Burnt Caramel Pudding

By • February 20, 2011 • 132 Comments



Author Notes: So far, one of the best parts about living in Boston is my proximity to Toscanini’s burnt caramel ice cream. I’m not even that into ice cream but this flavor, with its slight bitter edge to cut the richness, is crack-like. I attempted to capture it in a pudding, and after incinerating a lot of sugar, I think I finally got it. - MidgeMidge

Food52 Review: Puddings thickened with cornstarch make great comfort food, but Midge's luxurious caramel custard, which uses egg yolks as its only setting agent, elevates pudding to dinner party fare. As with any egg-enriched custard, the key is careful tempering, and do take the caramel as far as your nerves will allow -- you'll be rewarded with a rich pudding that has just the right balance of bitter and sweet. Our favorite technique of all? Midge has you start the water bath with cool water, rather than hot; this cooks the pudding slowly but very gently, giving it the most incredibly silken, glossy structure. -A&MA&M

Serves 4

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • Fine sea salt
  1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Split vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream; toss the scraped pod in there too. Turn the heat to low to gently warm the cream.
  3. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the sugar; pour remaining sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons water into heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Then crank the heat to high and let the liquid bubble away -- don’t stir; just swirl the pan occasionally -- until it turns dark amber. This takes about 4 minutes, but watch closely because it happens fast.
  4. Moving quickly, fish the vanilla pod out of the cream and save for another use. Slowly stir the warm cream into the caramel over medium heat. Once it comes to a boil (it will fast), turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Whisk a little of the cream/caramel mixture into the egg yolks. Gradually add the rest, until it's all incorporated.
  6. Strain the mixture into a pitcher or large measuring cup and pour into four ramekins. Place the ramekins in a shallow pan half filled with cold water. If you like your caramel a bit salty like me, sprinkle a few extra grains of sea salt on top of each one. Cook at 300 degrees for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Chill for at least 3 hours, but it's best if you can chill it overnight. Serve with whipped heavy cream.
Jump to Comments (132)

Tags: caramel, pudding

Comments (132) Questions (3)

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5 months ago Kathy R

Susan, this should work fine as ice cream, but use pasteurized eggs to avoid the possibility of salmonella. It might be a little rich. Consider subbing a cup of milk for a cup of heavy cream. On another note, I think it's much easier to caramelize sugar without the water. Just keep a close eye on it. Don't stir until it starts to melt, then stir with a fork until you get the color you want.

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6 months ago Susan

Couldn't you put this custard before it goes in the oven in a ice cream machine once it's properly cooled?

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6 months ago Cindy

My friend made this it was amazing. I'm considering doing in mini ramekins for a tasting maybe 1 or 2 ounce size. If I gently jiggle the ramekin how can I tell if it's done. I know it will thicken as it gets cold. Any input would be welcome. Thanks Midge

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9 months ago Sara Tonnesen

I don't have ramekins, but I'd love to make this for a party tomorrow. Can I cook it in a dish or pan?

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9 months ago Midge

Sorry I didn't get back to you in time. Have never cooked this in a big dish but I'd love to know how it turned out if you ended up doing it?

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9 months ago chefty

Is there an optimal size for ramekins given the cooking time and measurements here? The ones I have are fairly large (7 fl oz).

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9 months ago Midge

I use some old custard cups which are about 5 oz, but others have used 6 oz ramekins with success. Seven-ounce ramekins should be fine, maybe fill them a little less?

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9 months ago jamcook

Can this beautiful stuff be easily doubled, or would one have to make 2 separate batches ? Would the caramel timing be affected by the doubling? Thanks

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9 months ago Midge

Hi jamcook, You can definitely double it without a problem. Same timing for caramel.

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10 months ago Paula Ruckelshaus

Great flavor, but cold water bath + over an hour and 30 minutes in the oven @ 300 degrees did not set the custard - runny results. Also, stirring cream into caramel was tough - ended up with a glob of congealed caramel on the stirrer.

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10 months ago paula

Hi Midge. Would this work with coconut milk?

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over 1 year ago Ali Bobz

have officially made this 5 times at college. normally I wouldnt think this was something that I would make out here but its my favorite and everyone seems to love it. Thanks for the great recipe

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over 2 years ago ubs2007

Wow! Rich, creamy and silky. Perfect recipe! Also, first time a recipe was so well written that i didn't burn the caramel. Thank you so much for sharing!

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over 2 years ago Midge

Thank you! I'm so glad it worked the first go round!

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over 2 years ago dnkil

I made this for Valentine's Day and it was a hit. Creamy, delicious and ver very rich. This one is a keeper!

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over 2 years ago dnkil

I made this for Valentine's Day and it was a hit. Creamy, delicious and ver very rich. This one is a keeper!

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over 2 years ago Midge

I'm honored you tried it! Thanks so much for reporting back.

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almost 3 years ago Woodside

Just the right amount of rich, and ultra-smooth and creamy. Simple, and definitely guest-worthy.

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almost 3 years ago Midge

Thanks Woodside!

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almost 3 years ago igor

I am living in italy and was delighted to run across this recipe. Cant wait to try it - It has made me a touch home sick for Cambridge - and Toscanini's Ice Cream. But, in the meantime I am going to forward this to Gus at Toscanini's and let him know how much he impacts and inspires people. Thanks Midge, for such a great recipe.
And thanks Amanda and Merrill for this web site. Every time i use it, it teaches me something and makes me a better cook, and so aware of how food and all it's joys crosses any culture, or man made border. One of the few untouchable freedoms for all in this world!!

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almost 3 years ago Midge

Thanks so much for your comments. I no longer live in Boston and I too am homesick for Toscanini's. Couldn't agree with you more about Food52!

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almost 3 years ago perfectchaos

Thank you Midge for this fun offering; I white knuckled during the sugar browning, only swirling the pan now and then, but you are absolutely correct with the four minutes time frame. All was so easy, and the custard has an amazing depth of flavor finish!
Thanks again!

perfectchaos

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almost 3 years ago Midge

The sugar-browning part is a little nerve-wracking, but worth it. I'm so glad it worked for you.

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almost 3 years ago Lindseytriestocook

This was delicious. Really, really delicious. Thank you for posting.

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almost 3 years ago Midge

Thanks, Lindsey. So happy you thought so.

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about 3 years ago bejugo

Hi Midge, it was a nice coincidence meeting a fellow MU grad a few months ago when you visited Portland. When I visited my family in Wisconsin last week I made your Burnt Caramel Pudding. Everybody, from 4 years old up to 75, was delighted with how delicious this pudding was. Thanks for the great recipe.

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about 3 years ago Midge

Thanks so much bejugo! I'm so happy you gave it a try and that it was a hit. Great meeting you too and say hi to Wisconsin for me. Don't think I'll make it there this summer, sadly.

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about 3 years ago nogaga

I just discvered this recipe, and it looks just wonderful! I live pretty far from Toscanini's these days, but their burnt caramel ice cream still temps me.

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about 3 years ago Midge

Thanks nogaga! Wish I could send you some Toscanini's.

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over 3 years ago Pamela's Kitchen

I just pulled this out of the oven and it smells amazing :)

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about 3 years ago Midge

I'm so happy you tried them.

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over 3 years ago yella

Wow! made these for a dinner party last week and they were absolutely scrumptious! mmmmmmm. they definitely reminded me of toscaninis ice cream. bitter/sweet when i think about the good ol' days in cambridge....

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks so much. I'm thrilled you liked the recipe!

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over 3 years ago goldenblind221

Just popped these little beauties in the oven. The entire cooking process smelled amazing. I am impressed!

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over 3 years ago Midge

So glad you tried it!

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over 3 years ago Arathi

Congrats Midge! I am definitely going to try this soon.

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks so much Arathi. Look forward to seeing more of your recipes.

Henrykiss

over 3 years ago arielleclementine

congratulations on your win! this is a beautiful recipe!

My_love-1

over 3 years ago Table9

Congrats!!!! You deserve it!

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over 3 years ago TasteFood

Congratulations Midge!

Steve_dunn02

over 3 years ago Oui, Chef

Ha....I knew it, you ROCK Midge! Congrats! - S

Sausage2

over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yay Midge!!!!! So excited for you!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Wow! I'm super thrilled. Thank you all so very much!

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over 3 years ago lapadia

Like I wrote 5 days ago - WTG!!! Congratulations to you!

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over 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations!

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over 3 years ago Panfusine

Congratulations Midge... Such an elegant recipe, with exactly 4 ingredients!! awesome!

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over 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

Yay! Congrats, Midge!

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over 3 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats, Midge!!

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over 3 years ago gingerroot

Congrats Midge!! I'm so thrilled for you.

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Hooray! Congrats, Midge!

Mrs._larkin_370

over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Woo hoo midge! Way to go!!! Congrats on the win! :)

Barbara_davilman

over 3 years ago DAVILCHICK

I have good news and bad news. The good news is I made this yesterday for last night's dessert and it was so delish that now I have to go make ALL your recipes. ;)

I have to 'splain that my hubby's the cook in this family but I've gotten very brave (thanks to food52) and have made apps, side dishes, salads and now: dessert!!!

Thank you for this wonderful, EASY AS CAN BE, scrumptious, sinful recipe.

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over 3 years ago Midge

Wow, thanks. I'm so happy you liked it!!

Monkeys

over 3 years ago monkeymom

Amazing looking! Congrats Midge!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks so much monkeymom!

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over 3 years ago Daphne

Love your style! and the egg yolks for thickening!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thank you Daphne!

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over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I became allergic to chocolate about 5 years ago, so good desserts that don't include it are such a treasure. This looks wonderful, and I am going to try it this weekend. Congratulations!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks boulangere and I'd love to hear how you like it.

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over 3 years ago TiggyBee

Midge, Midge, Midge!! Knew it from the start. I can now do the "I told me so dance".

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over 3 years ago Midge

You crack me up, TiggyBee. Thank you!

My_love-1

over 3 years ago Table9

Congrats Midge!!! This looks beautiful.

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks Table9!!

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over 3 years ago lapadia

Way-To-Go, Midge! Luck and Congratulations to you...

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks lapadia! Hope you're feeling better.

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over 3 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats, Midge. I thought one of your recipes would be a finalist!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks Sagegreen!! I'm thrilled.

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over 3 years ago Cupcake921

This sounds fabulous and I can't wait to make it!! Congrats!!!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks! Hope you like it.

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over 3 years ago aplatefulofhappiness

Toscanini's is the best ice cream in the world, and Burnt Caramel is my favorite flavor there. (And, like you, I'm not even that into ice cream.) I was just there last weekend and enjoyed a scoop. I'm going to have to try this. I like pudding much better than ice cream.

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over 3 years ago Midge

I'm with you on pudding, especially in winter, but when you are craving ice cream, Toscanini's is the place.

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over 3 years ago Jestei

if you doubled this would you just do a straight double of everything?

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over 3 years ago Midge

Yep, I'd just double everything.

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over 3 years ago Bevi

You had me at Toscanini. I'm in!!

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over 3 years ago Midge

It's the best!

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over 3 years ago Arathi

Congrats Midge! Very honored to be a co-finalist with someone so talented!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks so much Arathi. Likewise!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Wow, my week just got a whole lot better! I couldn't be more thrilled! Thank you A&M and thanks so much everyone for your kind words.

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over 3 years ago AliEats

This looks fan-freakin'-tastic!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks AliEats! My husband called it freakishly delicious.

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over 3 years ago wanderash

I knew this would be a finalist! Congrats!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thank you wanderash!

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over 3 years ago Oui, Chef

Dang....I've been gone for a bit and didn't even see this challenge until the finalists were announced. As much as I love Nutella, nothing tops caramel, and with the purity of ingredients you have here Midge, I know this is a winner of a recipe! - S

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks Oui, Chef! Just made your pasta with rabe again last night. Delish!

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over 3 years ago ChowMom

OMG! My mouth is watering!!!!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks cbudris!

Sausage2

over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

YAY Midge!!!!! I just knew this would be in the finals! We were at Toscanini's last week - refueling after a back country ski trip :) - and I got burnt caramel and thought of you!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks fiveandspice!! I have to get there myself and try the B3!

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over 3 years ago healthierkitchen

Congratulations, Midge! I used to go to Toscanini's back when I lived in Boston in the '80s.

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over 3 years ago Midge

thank you healthierkitchen!

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over 3 years ago gingerroot

Hooray! So happy this is a finalist. Congrats!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks gingerroot!

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over 3 years ago cheese1227

Burnt caramel is my favorite, favorite, favorite flavor!!! Thank you and congrats.

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thanks cheese1227! It's a pretty great flavor. As I told fiveandspice, I can't bring myself to order another kind of ice cream.

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over 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations on being a finalist!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thank you drbabs!

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over 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Congrats on making the finalist round, Midge!!!! I thought this one might make it in! I can't wait to try it!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks ChezSuzanne. I'm really excited. Hope you try it.

Mrs._larkin_370

over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Yay Midge!! Congrats on the EP and being in the finals!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks mrsl!

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over 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks killer, Midge!! Next time I get to Boston, I'm going to have to find some of that ice cream too!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks ChezSuzanne. Yes, Toscanini's is a must on any visit here!

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over 3 years ago TiggyBee

Triple love this..neck and neck with Créme Vermont!!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thank you TiggyBee! I was pleasantly surprised out how well it turned out.

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over 3 years ago lapadia

Sounds great...."like"!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thank you lapadia!

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over 3 years ago MIGirl

Midge, Looks delish and your pudding cup is cute too!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks MIG;)

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over 3 years ago VanessaS

Sounds delicious! I love burnt caramel!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks Vanessa!

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over 3 years ago Lizthechef

This looks terrific! I prefer caramel to just about any other dessert flavor...

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over 3 years ago Midge

me too, it's overtaken chocolate in my book. Thanks Liz!

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

This sounds yummy! I am hoping someone is going to post a great butterscotch pudding recipe-- this could be a good substitute! Oh, and I hear you on the sugar burning :)

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over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

In case nobody here does post a butterscotch recipe, David Lebovitz's is good: http://www.davidlebovitz...

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

thanks fiveandspice! now... which of these to make first....

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks wanderash! The sugar part is tricky but after that its a cinch.

Mrs._larkin_370

over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Midge, this sounds so great!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks mrslarkin!

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over 3 years ago Jennifer Ann

Midge, this looks wonderful. I love that a short list of ingredients can amount to this!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks Jennifer Ann!

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over 3 years ago gingerroot

YUM! This looks and sounds amazing. I never had much of a sweet tooth before food52 and now find myself drooling over everyone's divine looking treats!

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks gingerroot! I know, there are so many puddings I want to make now.

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over 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I've never been to Toscanini, but I made David Lebovitz's salted caramel ice cream this summer and it was beyond divine. I bet this pudding is delicious.

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks drbabs. I love anything salted caramel!

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

This sounds divine! Love caramelized sugar.

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over 3 years ago Midge

thanks hla, me too!

Sausage2

over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yay Toscanini's!!!! Their ice cream is my obsession - and definitely a major reason I seem to be putting on weight during my PhD work, in spite of the fact that I'm technically studying nutrition! Whipped cream is a must with this flavor. :)

Sausage2

over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

I make something very similar to this - as well as a burnt caramel sauce - and man, it is so hard to get the flavor right! It's right in between plain old caramel and acrid burnt bitter flavor. I'm definitely giving it a go with your instructions!...Though if I find I'm too busy this week, I'll probably just head to Toscanini's instead, hehe.

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over 3 years ago Midge

I'm sure Toscanini's has fueled many PhDs in this town! I'm embarrassed to admit that I've lived here almost two years and haven't ventured beyond burnt caramel.

Sausage2

over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

All of their flavors are pretty great, if you do venture out from burnt caramel (I have a terrible habit of getting 5-6 spoons of tastes before I settle on a flavor, so I've tasted a lot of them!). Lately they've had a brown butter brown sugar ice cream (called B3) that's seriously wonderful, but sooooo rich you really have to just have the mini size.

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over 3 years ago Sagegreen

I am so glad I do not live closer to Toscanini. Your recipe does sound divine though! No matter what the theme next week my diet starts Monday!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Thank you Sagegreen! I'd be in big trouble if I lived closer to the store in Cambridge.