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Well it’s official, the holiday season has descended upon us! From this weekend on it will be a fast slide into Christmas with family, friends and festivities abounding. And, as dessert is sure to star right alongside the turkey this Thanksgiving, I thought I would offer a twist on traditional fare. This crème brûlée is a sophisticated alternative to last year’s pumpkin pie but just as easy to whip together. The recipe is small enough for more intimate dining and doubles well if you’re feeding a crowd. Give it a try this holiday weekend – I promise you’ll love it! Happy Thanksgiving to all our fellow Canadians, and to all those in the USA and across the world, enjoy whatever you’re celebrating this weekend and stay tuned here for more holiday goodness over the next few months.
Makes 4 individual crème brûlées
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 Tbs. pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup plus 4 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. firmly packed brown sugar

Preheat an oven to 300°F. Have a pot of boiling water ready.

Pour the cream into a small saucepan and whisk in the spices. Set over medium-low heat and warm the cream mixture until bubbles form around the edges of the pan and steam begins to rise from the surface, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes.

Whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla, salt, pumpkin puree, the 1/3 cup sugar and the brown sugar until smooth and blended. Slowly pour in the cream mixture, stirring until blended.

Divide the mixture among four 8-fl.-oz. ramekins and place in a large baking pan. Add boiling water to fill the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake until the custards are just set around the edges, about 30 minutes.

Remove custards from oven and let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Just before serving, sprinkle 1 tsp. sugar over the surface of each custard. Using a kitchen torch according to the manufacturer’s instructions, move the flame continuously in small circles over the surface until the sugar melts and lightly browns. Serve immediately.

It feels like Fall has just started and suddenly Thanksgiving is upon us – at least here in Canada. In one week we’ll be indulging in all things turkey and cranberry, and of course, pumpkin! And while the traditional pie is always on our holiday table, I like to mix it up a bit as well and serve up the unexpected. This cake is a lovely twist on traditional flavours – the creaminess of the pumpkin is the perfect accompaniment to the richness of a traditional New York styled cheesecake while the spices make it the perfect addition to any harvest celebration.

The trick to a great cheesecake is in taking your time and letting the cake ‘set’ before serving. We’ve given the ‘open’ door method which allows the cake to cool slowly, thus letting it settle without cracking – if you’re a bit more experienced in the kitchen you can also wrap your springform in 2-3 layers of tinfoil and bake in a bain-marie (water bath). I also find that letting the fully cooled cake rest in the refrigerator over-night settles it even more giving that dense, creamy texture that makes cheesecake so heavenly.

Pumpkin cheesecake in autumn setting

  • 1 3/4 cups of Pumpkin Spice Raincoast Crisp crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 15 0z can of pumpkin puree

Mix together the Pumpkin Spice Raincoast Crisp crumbs, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and melted butter. Press the mixture into 9″ springform and bake for 10 minutes at 350 F. Remove from oven and let cool while mixing batter.

Raise oven heat to 450 F.

Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, pumpkin and remaining spices until just combined – do not over beat as you don’t want too much air in the mixture. Pour the batter over the crust and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 F and bake for another 1 hour; turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, or until completely cooled. Cake can be wrapped and stored in the fridge overnight.

Serve with whipped cream and for real decadence, some home-made caramel sauce.


Beverly Jean Bond - October 9, 2013 - 9:32 pm

awesome cake

Terri Clark - April 16, 2014 - 12:30 am

Can you share the Mary Wessex cake recipe or better yet be able to make one for a special birthday???

Terri Clark - October 17, 2014 - 9:24 pm

Will definitely get the book. When I’m at our house in Litchfield County, Connecticut I see Raincoast Crisps at all the shops.

While pumpkin pies and apple crisps may be traditional fare for the Thanksgiving holidays, when it comes to the sweets course I sometimes love to serve something a little more elegant. This is a fabulous dessert for entertaining as it can be made well in advance, is delicious, reasonable on the budget, and really feels seasonal.

 Makes 4 servings

  • 2 cups (500 mL) Chianti or other dry red wine
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 4 anjou or bosc pears peeled, leave stems on


  • 4 oz. (125grams) good quality chocolate,finely chopped
  • 1/2cp (125ml) heavy cream

In a small deep saucepan, heat the wine, water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add the pears. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and a lid. Simmer gently for 20 -30 minutes or until the pears are fork tender. Remove from heat. Let the pears cool in the liquid. Remove the pears take a little slice off the bottom of the pear if it doesn’t stand straight up.Refridgerate the cooking liquid for the next time.

In a small sauce pan combine the cholcolate and cream heat the cream to almost boiling then remove from heat let sit for 3 -4 mins until the chocolate is melted. Whisk until smooth.

To serve place a pear on each plate, drizzle with chocolate ganache and serve immediately.

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