Salted caramel pudding parfaits

At some point in the last decade, the marriage of caramel and salt became a perennial one on dessert menus. Serve this pudding in parfait glasses or a clear serving dish so the layers are visible
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Sweet by Valerie Gordon
The marriage of caramel and salt works wonderfully in these individual parfaits
Serves 6

* 1 1/2 cups (12oz) heavy cream
* 3 tbsp cornstarch
* 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
* 1 cup plus 1 tbsp (7.5oz) sugar
* 3 cups (24oz) whole milk, at room temperature
* 1 1/2 tsp fleur de sel or sea salt

1. Whisk together half a cup of the heavy cream, cornstarch and vanilla paste in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Put one cup of the sugar into a medium copper or heavy stainless steel saucepan and set over medium heat. As the sugar heats, you will see it start to melt around the edges and then turn golden in colour, in two to three minutes.

3. Using a wooden spoon or heatproof silicone spatula, nudge the sugar slightly on one side. You will see liquid caramel slowly move out from underneath the granular sugar.

4. Very slowly start to move the sugar into the liquid caramel. Do not rush this process - if the caramel starts to look grainy, you are incorporating the sugar too quickly. If the caramel starts to smoke or get very dark, remove the pan from the heat until the smoking subsides or lower the heat.

5. When the sugar has completely melted and is dark amber in colour, turn off the heat and pour in the milk — it will bubble up. When the bubbles settle down, turn the heat to low and whisk the milk and caramel together, then cook, whisking, to dissolve any hardened bits of caramel. Remember to keep half a cup of the caramel sauce aside for drizzling before serving.

6. Whisk the cornstarch mixture (from step one) into the caramel and continue cooking, stirring, until the pudding thickens and coats the back of the spoon, two to three minutes. Remove from the heat.

7. Pour the pudding through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Cover the surface of the pudding with cling film so the pudding doesn’t form a skin and refrigerate until cold, about two hours. The pudding can be refrigerated, covered, for up to two days.

Sweet by Valerie Gordon
To assemble the parfait
1. In a large bowl, whip the remaining one cup of cream with the remaining one tablespoon of sugar until firm peaks form.

2. Spoon one to two teaspoons of caramel sauce into the bottom of each parfait glass. Scoop about half a cup of pudding into the glass, drizzle with another one to two teaspoons of caramel sauce, and top with a large dollop of whipped cream.

3. Drizzle a little more caramel sauce over the whipped cream, finish with a sprinkling of fleur de sel, and serve immediately.

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Extracted from Sweet: Inspired Ingredients published by Artisan, £25. Copyright 2013. Photographs by Peden + Munk

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