Salted Caramel Pudding

I was remembering the good ol’ days this past week, when I would open the fridge and find a chocolate pudding waiting there for me, complete with a maraschino cherry in the bottom. That was how my mom made pudding special. I couldn’t wait to get through all the chocolate to find the cherry. Since I’ve been having this love affair with salted caramel for the past year, I thought it was time to make a salted caramel pudding, something Jello-O can’t do better than me.

Let me give you a tip – don’t use skim, 1%, 2% or anything other than WHOLE MILK. You need the real deal, or your pudding will not be pudding. It will be milk. It will not thicken. Also, if you buy one ridiculous pantry item, let it be fleur de sel. I’ve found more uses for this salt than any other ingredient I have ever used.

This concoction is lick-the-bowl delicious and something you should definitely savor, but I would be lying if I said I worked through it any slower than in my childhood, trying to get to that cherry on the bottom [still]. Make this now and thank me later.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel (or kosher salt), plus more for garnish
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • maraschino cherries for bottom of pudding dishes

How To:

To make the caramel sauce, stir sugar and water just until combined in a heavy bottomed small saucepan over medium heat. Stop stirring, and heat to a boil. Watch carefully until the mixture turns to a golden/amber color, remove from heat and stir in whipping cream. Once combined, place over low heat to make sure everything is liquid and there are no sugar chunks. Remove from heat and stir in butter and salt until combined. Transfer to a bowl to cool.  One cup will go into the pudding, reserve the rest for garnish (or ice cream).

Place one maraschino cherry into each of 4 individual serving dishes (you may need more or less serving dishes, depending on the size). To make the pudding, combine cornstarch and milk in a double boiler or heavy bottomed medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir using a heat proof rubber spatula (or whisk) to break up any globs. Mixture will thicken after 15 to 20 minutes. Once milk coats the back of a spoon,  add 1 cup of the caramel sauce and stir. Once mixture is thickened, just another few minutes, transfer to a bowl. At this point, you can process through a sieve to get rid of any lumps. Pour into individual serving dishes and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. Garnish with whipped cream (I’m partial to ready whip with pudding…it’s a childhood memory thing), a drizzle of the reserved caramel sauce, and a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

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