Fire is fun. Pie is fun. Setting your pumpkin pie (lightly) on fire is just a great time all around. Actually, I think all custard pies beg to be brûléed, but pumpkin is great, so we’ll focus on that.
Imagine, if you will, the end of Christmas dinner. You are sleepy. You are full. But it’s time for dessert. You rally. Then, an angel gives you a choice: would you like your pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream, a caramelised sugar crust, or both? Just how loved would you feel in that moment? I think very.
You could brûlée your entire pumpkin pie beforehand, but there is something so special about a table-side torching. People like fire. Plus, the sugary crust is at its most crunchy within the first few minutes of torching. You could even make it interactive and have the guests sprinkle on their desired amount of sugar, maybe even let them hold the torch themselves (provided they aren’t completely sloshed).
It’s a simple upgrade that requires almost no effort on your part—you don’t even have to change your recipe. Just bake your pie as usual, coat it with a healthy dusting of table sugar, then torch until the sugar bubbles and darkens, creating a caramelised, almost burnt crust that shatters pleasantly beneath the tines of your fork. Once you’ve torched pumpkin pie, turn the flame to other custardy desserts. A brûléed cheesecake—pumpkin or not—sounds divine.