Caramel Pudding

Serves 2-4


2 cups whole or skim milk

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

Coarse sea salt and whipped cream for topping


In a small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch, vanilla and salt, until smooth. Set aside.


In a large saucepan, combine the sugar with 3 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat until a light amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Do not stir but feel free to swirl the pan around a bit. Watch closely. The caramel should not smoke, or it will burn.


Remove from heat. Very gradually whisk in the remaining 1 2/3 cups of milk, a few drops at a time.


Fire up the burner again and whisk over medium heat until the caramel has dissolved again. The milk will foam up quickly as it comes to a simmer. Simmer over moderately low heat until the mixture thickens just slightly and deepens in color, about 10 minutes.


Gradually whisk the cornstarch mixture into the caramel. Cook again over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the pudding thickens, about one minute. The pudding may look and feel pretty loose, but it will thicken nicely when chilled in the fridge.


Strain the pudding in a fine strainer over a medium-sized bowl. Scrape the pudding into 2-4 ramekins or serving dishes and refrigerate until chilled and set, about 2 hours.


To avoid a pudding “skin”, press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of each pudding dish as it chills.


Serve with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and a dollop of whipped cream (optional).


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