January 09, 2014

Caramel Sea Salt Pudding

Just in case you’re sick of all the salads, and soups, and overall greenery that’s invaded Pinterest and the internet since January, here’s some pudding.

I didn’t think I liked pudding.  I was wrong.

This pudding... there are no words.  But I’m a food blogger and that’s what I do, so I’ll give it a shot.  The creaminess, the flavour, the silky texture, that hint of salt come together in a heavenly experience.  The softly whipped cream combines with the caramel in your mouth and makes a perfect, light and dreamy bite. 

It’s actually remarkable how little goes into this pudding.  Simple ingredients, perfect proportions, and time come together to in harmony. 

What’s good about pudding is that it’s easy to control portion sizes depending on the bowl/cup/ramekin you use.  Everything in moderation includes caramel, right?  And really, we all need a little dessert with the salad every once in a while to avoid insanity.  Or is that just me? 

Either way, you should make this.

Caramel Sea Salt Pudding
Adapted from Joy the Baker/Smitten Kitchen

*I got this recipe from Joy the Baker, but it turns out Deb from Smitten Kitchen posted it also at the beginning of January 4 years ago!  It seems I am not alone in my salad insanity. 

4 cups whole milk
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
Sea salt and whipped cream for topping

In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup of the milk with the cornstarch, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Set aside. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar with 6 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium high heat, without stirring, until a deep amber caramel forms. Be patient, and if you’re feeling antsy about not stirring, you can swirl the pan slightly (especially if you’re like me and your stove cooks unevenly).  Just make sure not to stray away because caramel changes color quickly and nobody likes burnt sugar. In the meantime, keep the remaining 3 1/2 cups of milk warm, either in a small pot on the stove or in the microwave.  Do not boil.

Once your caramel is deep amber, remove from the stove and whisk in the 3 1/2 cups of warm milk.  Warming the milk keeps the caramel from seizing too much, but if it does seize don’t worry it will dissolve again. 

Return the pot to the stove and whisk over moderate heat until the caramel has dissolved again. Once again, watch this closely as the milk will foam up quickly as it comes to a simmer. Simmer over moderately low heat until the mixture thickens slightly and deepens in color, about 10 minutes.

Gradually whisk the cornstarch mixture into the caramel. Cook again over medium heat, stirring, until the pudding thickens, about one minute. The caramel won’t be very thick at this point.  Don’t worry; it will set fine in the fridge.  If you’re feeling fancy, strain the pudding into a large measuring cup (this will make it extra smooth) otherwise just pour it directly in.  This is to make it easier to pour into individual containers.  Pour/scrape the pudding into eight 1/2-cup ramekins (or any containers you want to eat pudding out of).

Cover each pudding with plastic wrap, pressing it right against the surface to avoid a skin.  Refrigerate until chilled and set, about 2 hours.

To serve, dollop some softly whipped cream on top and sprinkle with sea salt! 

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