Friday, March 13, 2015

Toffee Coffee Pudding

In the realm of creams and custards, there are a few distinctions.  Custard is a cream and egg based mixture baked in a water bath to ensure slow and careful cooking.  Pot de crème is traditionally baked in porcelain cups and is usually a little looser in texture.  Pudding is cooked on the stovetop and contains fewer eggs and a measure of cornstarch and/or flour as a thickening agent.

Toffee sauce is brown sugar and butter heated just to the point where the sugar is fully dissolved.  And since brown sugar contains a hint of molasses, it has a distinct flavor.  Toffee differs from caramel in that caramel is made with white sugar and is cooked until it reaches a rich dark amber stage.  Cream is usually added to turn it into a sauce.  They each have a different viscosity, sweetness and richness.

This is an easy pudding that combines the deliciousness of toffee with the creamy makings of a coffee flavored pudding.  It’s super simple and a wonderful union of ingredients for anyone who enjoys any one of these elements.  You can make it ahead and chill until ready to serve. Then when you’re ready for a treat, just add a dollop of freshly whipped cream and sit back and savor, spoonful by spoonful.

Bench notes:
- Use your favorite dark roast coffee beans for the very best flavor. 
- Leave the coffee beans whole.  If ground or crushed, they tend to absorb too much of the milk. 
- These custards will keep in your refrigerator for a day or two.  
- The cookie used as a garnish in the photos is Brown Butter Walnut Shortbread.
- For the simple and sublime, try the purely luscious Vanilla Pudding.

Toffee Coffee Pudding
4 half-cup servings

1 1/2 oz (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter                                                                       
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (2 3/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed                                 
1/4 cup (2 oz) heavy cream                                                                                   
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice                                                 
pinch salt, to taste              

2 cups (16 oz) whole milk                                                                         
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) whole coffee beans                           
2 large egg yolks                                                    
2 tablespoons (18 grams) cornstarch               
1/4 cup (2 oz) Kahlua                                                                     
1 teaspoon vanilla                          
pinch salt, to taste

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 oz) heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

For the toffee, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat.  Add the brown sugar and whisk until fully combined with the butter.  Bring it to a slow boil, whisking constantly.  Whisk in 1/4 cup heavy cream.  Continue to whisk over low heat until there are no lumps of sugar and the mixture is a smooth sauce.  Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and salt, to taste.  Set aside.

For the pudding, place the milk and coffee beans in a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer.  Turn off the heat and steep for 1/2 hour, then strain and discard the coffee beans.  Return the milk to the heat and bring to a slow simmer.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together.  Add cornstarch and whisk until thickened and smooth.  Slowly pour about a third of the warm milk mixture into the eggs, whisking thoroughly to combine.  Add remaining milk and continue whisking.  Add the toffee mixture and combine thoroughly. 

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium low heat.  Bring to a very slow boil, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula or flat-bottom wooden spoon.  Once it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the pudding thickens.  The pudding is ready when it coats the spatula and a finger traced through it leaves a clean track.  It will thicken more as it cools.

Remove from heat and add the Kahlua and vanilla.  Taste and adjust for salt.  Pour into ramekins and set aside to cool.  Place in the refrigerator to chill and set up.

To serve, whisk heavy cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.   Dollop each custard with whipped cream.


Luv'n Spoonfuls said...

Sounds absolutely delish! You've combined two of my favorites...and the shortbread sounds like a marvelous foil. As always, a wonderful recipe with great photos.

pastry studio said...

Thank you very much, Luv'n!