March 4, 2012

... Salted Caramel Pudding Parfaits

Hello stranger!  It's been way too long since I've seen you... so sorry!  I have some good ones coming your way, though, so hopefully you'll forgive me.

Have you been introduced to Pinterest?  It's only the greatest way to waste time since the beginning of Facebook.  Only with Pinterest, you can actually be productive with recipes, crafts, and dreaming of a closet filled with fabulous clothes and shoes.  

Case in point : Salted Caramel Pudding Parfaits.  It didn't take long for me to find a reason to make these after I saw them pinned on a friend's board.  Happy Birthday to Dad! 

*Warning : this is one very long recipe with many steps.  Easy steps, but don't go thinking you're going to whip these babies up in an hour.  Absolutely worth it, though.  Most definitely.

Salted Caramel Pudding Parfaits
makes 8 servings (large) or 12-14 small

Cookie Crust
1 cup finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Salted Caramel Pudding
3 cups whole milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup water
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons dark rum (or brandy)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Salted Caramel Sauce (1/2 of the recipe)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whipped Cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

For the cookie crust :

  • Mix cookie crumbs, salt, and butter in a small bowl until well combined.  Set aside about 2 tablespoons of the cookie mixture for garnish.  Press 2 tablespoons (for large or half for a small cup) of the cookie crumbs into the bottom of mason jars or cups.  Set aside.

For the pudding :

  • In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch until combined.  Set aside.  
  • In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 2 1/2 cups of milk until simmering.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk egg yolks on medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  • To make the caramel, stir the brown sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Increase the heat and cook without stirring until an instant thermometer reads 210-220 degrees.  Remove from heat.
  • With stand mixer at low speed, gradually whisk in the hot milk, then the cornstarch mixture into the eggs.  Slowly whisk in the caramel.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and a thermometer registers 175 degrees, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat; whisk in the butter, rum, and salt.  Pour through a sieve if necessary.
  • Pour 1/2 cup pudding over crust in each cup.  Cover and chill for 4-5 hours.  

For the salted caramel :

  • Using a medium saucepan, spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom.
  • Measure the heavy cream and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod and put into the heavy cream.  Set aside.
  • Heat the sugar over medium-low heat.  When the sugar begins to bubble and liquify around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to push the sugar towards the center of the pot.  Continue to stir gently until all the sugar has melted.  Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove the pot from the heat.
  • Carefully pour in half of the heavy cream while whisking (the mixture will bubble vigorously).  Stir until incorporated, and then stir in the remaining cream.  Whisk in the vanilla extract and the salt.  
  • If any hard sugar has formed, stir the caramel over very low heat until the hardened pieces have melted and you have a smooth sauce.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Sauce can be reheated if necessary in the microwave or on the stovetop.
For the whipped cream:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk heavy whipping cream and sugar on high until soft peaks form.
  • Spoon 2 tablespoons slightly cooled salted caramel sauce over pudding and top with lightly whipped cream.  Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.
Taylor's Notes:
Ok, don't say I didn't warn you.  It's really a lot easier than it seems.  Promise.  And it's soooo worth it.  If nothing else, please make the caramel sauce.  You'll never understand why you ever purchased store-bought before and you'll never do it again.  Yes, it's that good.  

I honestly made this so long ago that I can't actually remember if I made a full or a half recipe.  I'm thinking half because I only got five parfaits out of what I made.  The servings weren't huge, but they were definitely enough... until I didn't have an extra the next night for dessert.  Sad face.  You know what I did have, though?  I had extra caramel sauce and that, my friends, is a most excellent thing.


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