Salted Caramel and Vanilla Bean Custard Tartlets

Salted Caramel and Vanilla Bean Custard Tartlets


·         1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

·         ½ tablespoon granulated sugar

·         ½ teaspoon salt

·         ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

·         2-3 tablespoons ice water

Salted Caramel:

·         ¼ cup water

·         1 cup granulated sugar

·         2 tablespoons light corn syrup

·         ¾ cup heavy cream

·         ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

·         1 teaspoon sea salt

·         1 teaspoon vanilla

Vanilla Bean Custard:

·         1 cup whole milk

·         ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped (or ½ tablespoon vanilla bean paste)

·         2 tablespoons granulated sugar

·         1 tablespoon cornstarch

·         2 egg yolks

·         2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

Bake and Cool the Tartlets:

In a bowl (or your food processor), combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter until pea-sized pieces of butter remain.  Add the ice water and work the dough with your hands until it comes together.

Roll the dough out to ¼ inch thick.  Cut into rounds and fit into your tartlet pan or molds; gather up any scraps and roll out again.

Freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Bake the frozen tartlets for 15-17 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool for a few minutes, then gently remove from the pan and cool, uncovered, on a wire rack.

Make the Salted Caramel:

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the water, sugar and corn syrup.  Warm the mixture gently over low heat until the sugar is dissolved (I kept mine on low heat for as long as I could before the sugar started to bubble, about 15 minutes).  Wash down the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush to get rid of any sugar crystals, then turn the heat up to medium to medium/high.  Cook, without stirring, until the sugar becomes a deep amber color (may take from 5-10 minutes).

Remove from the heat and pour in the cream - the mixture will bubble up quite a bit.  Stir briskly to incorporate the cream; if the mixture seizes up at this point, return it to the stove over low heat, and cook, stirring constantly and vigorously, to dissolve any lumps and/or sugar crystals.  Stir in the butter, one piece at a time until incorporated, then stir in the salt and vanilla.  If any lumps remain, pour caramel through a fine mesh strainer into a glass jar.

Make the Custard:

In a saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla bean seeds or paste, sugar and cornstarch.  Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks to break them up.  When the milk mixture begins to bubble around the edges, slowly stream about a cup of the hot milk into the eggs, whisking them constantly to temper them.  Scrape the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan.

Whisking constantly, bring the custard to a boil over medium heat, then cook for 2 minutes until thickened.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth.  Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, right against the surface of the custard.  Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Note, to speed up the chilling process, you can place the bowl of custard in a larger bowl filled with ice water, and whisk the custard to bring the temperature down more quickly.

To Assemble:

Spoon two teaspoons custard into each of the tartlets, then spoon a half teaspoon caramel into the center of each.  Garnish with a piece of toffee, if you like.

Yields enough pastry and custard for approximately 18 tartlets, and plenty of caramel leftover.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen