Make Ahead

Salted Caramel Custard

February 22, 2011
Author Notes

Well, somebody had to do it.
And, I figured, if I'm making a salted caramel pudding, I may as well go all out ridiculously rich and make it an all egg yolk thickened custard. So, here you go, this is not a pudding for the faint of heart. A salted caramel pudding, generally inspired by David Lebovitz's ice cream recipe of the same flavor. - fiveandspice —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

Fiveandspice has built a flavor explosion in pudding form. The caramel taste is immediate and long lasting. I counted: it took a full 30 seconds after I swallowed the cool, golden, silky custard for the flavor to dissipate. My only regret was that I did not double the recipe. —cheese1227

  • Serves 4
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch (generous) fleur de sel
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In This Recipe
  1. Spread the sugar in a heavy bottomed, fairly large (about 6 qt) sauce pan. Heat the sugar over medium until the edges start to melt, then (using something heat proof) start to stir the edges and bottom of the melting sugar in toward the middle to move unmelted sugar closer to the heat. Continue to do this until all the sugar is dissolved and then keep cooking it until it turns a dark amber and starts to smell strong and dark and almost like it’s going to burn (that burnt marshmallow smell). Remove it from the heat and stir in the butter and the salt until the butter is completely melted, then whisk in the cream.
  2. At this point the melted sugar will harden in response to the cream. Just return it to low heat and keep stirring it until it is all re-dissolved and blended into the cream. Then, stir in the cup of the milk.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they’re smooth. Then, whisk in a little (about 1/4 cup) of the warm caramel mixture. Repeat with a little more warm caramel. Then, pour this back into the pan with the rest of the caramel, stirring well, and cook this mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it has thickened enough that your stirring utensil leaves a trail and the custard can thickly coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, then press through a strainer if necessary to remove any lumps, and pour into 1 large bowl or 4 small bowls or custard cups. Press plastic wrap directly onto the custard if you wish to keep it from forming a skin. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or over night before serving. Accompany with lightly sweetened whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings.
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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.