Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Burnt Caramel Custard Puddings with Bittersweet Ganache + Fleur de Sel

Burnt Caramel Custard Puddings with Bittersweet Ganache + Fleur de Sel
It's been about a month since I made these burnt caramel custard puddings, but it doesn't make them any less delicious! This was an automatic hit and the perfect ending to any dinner party. Overall, they weren't all that hard to make AND you can whip them up ahead of time, and avoid all that dirty work when you should be having fun, entertaining your guests. The ingredients are simple ones, but don't worry, it all turns out luxurious... I mean, when you have heavy cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla beans, bourbon, chocolate, & fleur de sel, nothing can go wrong! You start off by making a caramel-- deep in rich sugary goodness, meanwhile you steep vanilla beans in heavy cream. Once the golden color  of the caramel has been reached, you add it to the cream mixture and listen to it scorch while you quickly whisk it in. It's so soothing to hear that noise. It's like the sound of sizzling bacon, nothing can beat it. I wish I could wake up to it in the morning as opposed to my over-played ringtone that I hate so much that I end up throwing my cellphone out the window. Temper in the egg yolks into the caramel-cream mixture, almost like you're making an ice cream, and throw in a dash of bourbon and salt for taste. Extra taste :) After everything is seasoned and creamy, strain the custard mixture through a fine mesh sieve (just in case there is anything that you don't want in there... it'll be super smooth that way too)! Ladle the liquid into prepared ramekins and bake them in a water bath until they have just set, but still have a wiggle-jiggle to them. After they cook and chill for a little while, it's time to stir up the ever-so-luscious bittersweet ganache that will completely cover + top the burnt caramel custards. I like this "shell" that hides the pudding beneath, it's like the extra oh-la-la surprise factor for your guests as they go at their little dishes with gusto. With a finish of fancy fleur de sel or finishing salt, the dish is taken to a'whole'notha level and every flavor profile has been topped. I especially love when you dig into them and get layers of caramel custard, ganache, and whipped cream all in one bite. And hey, the little flecks of vanilla bean doesn't look too shabby either :) Trust me, this dessert has earned its' spot in my recipe repertoire, and I'm sure it will do the same for you. It does NOT disappoint!! Enjoy :)

For the Burnt Caramel Custard Pudding:
1Q Heavy Cream
2 Vanilla Beans, Split & Scraped for Seeds
¾C + 4T Sugar
6 Large Egg Yolks, Room Temperature
¼t Fleur de Sel
1t Vanilla
1T Bourbon
Homemade Whipped Cream, For Topping
Maldon Flake Salt, For Garnishing

For the Bittersweet Ganache Topping:
1C Dark Chocolate Chunks
½C Heavy Cream

1. Prepping the Custards: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place 8 small ramekins into a baking dish and set aside. Pour the cream into a medium saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla beans and add pods. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. For the Caramel: Bring ¾C + 2T sugar and 2T water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally and brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush, until mixture turns a deep amber color, about 4-5 minutes and remove caramel from heat.
3. Remove vanilla pod from cream and slowly add cream to caramel (mixture will bubble vigorously), stirring constantly, until smooth.
4. Whisk egg yolks, salt, vanilla, bourbon, and remaining 2T sugar in a large bowl. Slowly stream in caramel, whisking constantly. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve to make sure that the custard is extremely smooth.
5. Divide custard among ramekins and fill the pan with water to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake until custard is just set but still jiggly in the center, about 60–70 minutes. Remove ramekins from baking dish and place on a wire rack and to let cool. Chill puddings, uncovered, at least 3 hours.
6. For the Bittersweet Ganache: In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth. Spoon the ganache over the top of the cooled custard, smoothing with a spoon and finishing the top with some flakes of salt. Return to the fridge to chill until the ganache is shiny and set.
7. Garnish with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and enjoy!

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