Pumpkin Spice Custard With Maple Brown Butter Mousse

Remember a few weeks ago when I said I'd only put up one pumpkin dessert on the blog this year because I feel like there's too much pumpkin already out there in the blogging world? 

Yeeeah, I went ahead and made another pumpkin dessert. 

I'm not sorry.

These flavours are what fall is all about. Warming spices, nutty brown butter, and sweet and caramelly maple syrup conjure up thoughts of rainy afternoons spent indoors with a mug of something warm and comforting. 

I think around this time of the year, everyone looks forward to those kinds of lazy days. Fall is a time to hunker down and settle in, I think. At least it should be. Not so much for me.

Things are changing in my life, both for the good and for the bad. 

I started a new job last week and I feel like it's a great fit. I feel like I could (and will) stay at this job for a few years and enjoy it every day. There's so much to learn and to do and to see. I've been wanting a stable job that I enjoy and am proud of for a long time now. I can really see myself staying at this patisserie for years and really growing as a pastry cook. I'm excited. It's a relief, to be honest. I feel secure.

And then there's the personal side of my life. That's a mess. I'm a mess. Every time I try to write a little bit about it, it comes out wrong. I'm not the kind of person to describe every detail of my personal life here, I like my privacy. But sometimes, I just can't put on that mask and make small talk. But I don't really want to talk about it. I can't even figure out my own thoughts and feelings. It's confusing.

My emotions are completely up and down. I'm hopeful, optimistic, and forgiving and then I turn around and I feel hateful, fed up, and frustrated. One moment, I want to work hard to fix the problems because I feel like it's worth it and the next moment, I just want to walk away from it because there's too many problems to fix.

How do you make a decision when your thoughts keep changing? 

How do you know what's best for yourself? 

How do you know when to keep fighting and when to let go? 

It's easy to forget that the people behind the blogs we love are people, too. We have things going on in our life and many of those things don't end up on our blogs. It's hard to write about those things. You don't want to broadcast your problems to the entire world. You're not looking for sympathy or affirmation, you just want to get it out. You want to let people know that you feel, you hurt, you cry just like everyone else. 

You create this picture of your life on your blog but you skip over the unpleasant things, the things that you don't want to think about, the things that hurt you, and you end up with this made up version of your life. It feels like a mask sometimes. 

But sometimes, the mask cracks a little bit and people can see a tiny piece of the real life you lead. It's not as pretty and organized and ideal as you made it seem. But that's life. It's not always picture perfect. 

Thanks for reading this mess of a post. I just want you guys to know that I appreciate you coming to my little space on the internet and bringing a bit of positivity with you. It makes a difference.

Pumpkin Spice Custard
Recipe adapted from Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

165 g whole milk
115 g heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
134 packed brown sugar
400 g pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Maple Brown Butter Mousse
Recipe adapted from The Modern Cafe

252 g whole milk
62 g maple sugar
1 g salt
83 g egg yolks
50 g brown butter, at room temperature

300 g heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

For the pumpkin spice custard, combine the milk and cream in a heavy saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and place the scrapings and pod in the milk. In a separate bowl, add the yolks, spices, salt, and 44 g of the brown sugar. Whisk until slightly paler in color. Put the saucepan over medium heat and bring just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove the lid from the saucepan and bring back to just a boil. Add a ladle of the hot milk mixture to the yolks, whisking vigorously. Add the warmed yolk mixture back to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately pour the creme anglaise through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl.

Put the pumpkin puree in a blender. Pour the creme anglaise into the blender. Add the remaining 44 g of brown sugar, the whole eggs, and the vanilla extract. Blend on high speed for 1 full minute. Turn off the blender and use a spatula to scrape down the sides and the bottom to make sure everything is mixed enough. Blend for a few more seconds if necessary.

Leave the pumpkin custard in the blender and allow the mixture to rest and allow any bubbles to rise to the top, about 15 minutes. Use a small ladle to skim off and discard any bubbles.

Place your ramekins or jars into a baking pan that has high sides. Pour the custard into ramekins or jars, about 1/3 of the way up. Fill the baking pan with enough hot water to come 1/4 of the way up the ramekins or jars.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the custard is set. Remove from the water bath and refrigerate completely.

For the maple brown butter mousse, combine the milk and 31 g of the maple sugar in a saucepan. Set over medium heat and bring just to a boil.

Combine the egg yolks, salt, and remaining 31 g of maple sugar in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Once the milk has come just to a boil, add a ladle of hot milk into the yolk mixture, whisking vigorously. Add the warmed yolk mixture back to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the brown butter and stir to emulsify. Immediately pour the creme anglaise through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl set over an ice bath. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until completely cold, about 2 hours.

Whip the cream to medium peaks. Measure out 300 g of the maple brown butter anglaise into a large clean bowl. Add half of the whipped cream and gently fold to combine. Repeat with the remaining half. Pour the maple brown butter mousse 1/3 of the way up in your ramekins or jars with the pumpkin spice custard. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.