(Another photo-less post.  Sorry, guys.  I know they’re boring and my writing doesn’t necessarily shine.)

Black-bottomed caramel pudding was basically caramel pudding.  The black part came from mixing the caramel pudding with chocolate. The bottom part comes from layering the chocolate’d part on the bottom of the glass.

I was really excited about making this, because, frankly, I love pudding.  LOVE it.  Whole Foods sells this TO-DIE-FOR chocolate pudding made with Scharffen Berger chocolate and my secret is that I will buy some and then hide it in the back of the fridge and not tell Martin.  Over the course of a week, I will eat it in tiny spoonful portions, all while still NOT SHARING WITH MARTIN.  I’m evil, but I also know I can get away with telling you this secret because Martin unsupportively does not read this blog.

So.  Back to pudding and not the state of my relationship with Martin.  I felt like pudding one night, saw this recipe in my cookbook and loved the idea, so I gathered together all the ingredients and started going to town.

The first step to making caramel pudding is, of course, making a caramel-y base.  I am pretty much terrified of boiling sugar, so I stuck a candy thermometer in my pot and did not move for the 15 minutes it took to turn a “deep amber caramel.”  That may or may not have involved not-blinking.  I also believe I kept the heat a bit on the low side since it took longer than stated, but I’d prefer standing there for a bit longer than freaking out as I watch my “deep amber caramel” turn into an “inedible black.”  Which I’ve done before.

Other than that, it was pretty easy.  I added the heavy cream in and I was a bit concerned that my caramel immediately chunked up, but returning it to heat and stirring dissolved it again.  It was basically a lot of putting it on heat / taking it off heat / stirring like no one’s business.  I think my result came out pretty well.  As a pudding-lover, I was pleased and ate a portion (they’re heavy so though I wanted more, I couldn’t).  Martin thought it was best when when the bottom mixed with the top, but I preferred keeping my layers separate.

Would I make this again?  Yes, but I want to try other pudding flavors first!

Black-Bottomed Caramel Pudding

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups whole milk, separated into 1/2 and 2-1/2 cup portions
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate (this is about 1/3 cup chocolate chips)

1-  Gently bring sugar and water to a boil.  Mix with whisk until combined.  When sugar-water is boiling (over medium heat), watch over it carefully as it changes from a light brown to a dark brown.  (Most cookbooks that discuss making caramel talk about swirling and washing the sides down with a pastry brush.  I do the pastry brush part but generally do not swirl once my sugar has dissolved into the water).

2-  When the sugar is a dark brown, immediately remove from heat and slowly add heavy cream in a steady stream.  Mixture will bubble and also sort of solidify.  Return to low heat and stir with whisk until blended again.

3-  In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1/2 cup milk.  In another small bowl, beat together eggs, vanilla and salt (you will be adding about 1 cup of custard to this later for tempering purposes, so make sure it can fit).  In another bowl, put the chopped chocolate (you will add about 1/2 cup of the caramel custard to this, so make sure it can fit).

4-  Stir remaining 2-1/2 cups milk into the caramel mixture and bring to a simmer.  When a simmer has been achieved, stir together cornstarch mixture (to make sure the cornstarch hasn’t settled out of the milk) and pour it into the caramel mixture.  Stir constantly for 2 minutes at a simmer.

5-  Remove mixture from heat (for the last time!) and slowly add about 1 cup of hot mixture into eggs to prevent the eggs from solidifying, stirring the whole time.  Add this mixture back into the hot mixture and stir to combine, about a minute, off heat.

6-  Take about 1/2 cup of hot mixture and pour over the chocolate chips.  Let sit for a minute to melt the chocolate, then stir to combine.

7-  The best tactic is to pour the mixtures into measuring cups with a pour spout of some sort to pour into glasses or bowls, for cleaner results.  Let chill for 3 hours, then serve garnished or ungarnished.

Servings:  6 four-ounce portions