Tag Archives: caramel sauce

Soft Food for the Toothless

3 Feb
Butterscotch pudding.  For the toothless, omit nuts.

Butterscotch pudding. For the toothless, omit nuts.

The Beloved must have a tooth extracted. Ripped from his head.  While he’s awake.  He is very brave.  And, thanks to some interesting genetics, he’s also a mutant.   His molars have three roots instead of two.  And they’re very long.  The regular dentist took one look, shuddered and sent him to a specialist, muttering about proximity to sinuses and what not.

Anyway, these mutations make for Very Strong Teeth, which is a very good thing if you are a chewing gum tester or you don’t own a nut cracker or if you eat rocks.  It is not a very good thing when a dentist decides he needs to Pull Them Out of Your Head. (Update:  He’s prehistoric.  I just found this article on Yahoo!) So, I will take The Beloved to the endodontist on Thursday morning.  I will wait in the waiting room with sweaty palms.  I will read the same sentence over and over again.  And then, after an as yet unspecified amount of time, he will emerge.  I am very excited about this part.

You see, The Beloved has opted for Novocaine and nitrous oxide as opposed to general anesthesia.  Me, I’d want to be dead to the world, but no, not him!  He is manly and tough and wants to Be Awake.  The point is, dear readers, he has never had nitrous oxide before.  Friends, he has never even had a youthful Michael Phelps moment.  Ever.  So, I’m pretty sure he will be at least a little bit high when all is said and done.  So, I will wait and worry, and I will have my camera at the ready.  I need photographic evidence.  Just in case.  Plus, there’s facebook to consider.

So, on to the point of the whole post.  The endodontist has given us Strict Orders that all The Beloved will be able to eat for at least a couple of days is gruel.  Or at least soft, smooth foods.  I’ve got plans for homemade tomato soup.  I’ll put some quinoa in it so he’ll get wee little protein pills without really having to chew.  I figure foie gras is pretty smooth, but it’s a little pricey, so that’s right out.   I can probably feed him a soft-ish version of shepherd’s pie.  Maybe some finely minced lamb and some wee soft veggies in rich, brown gravy all topped with smooth mashed taters.  That could work.

But, my favoritest smooth food of all–What? Yes, I know it’s supposed to be all about him, and I promise to take good care of him, but he’s gonna be all high and stuff, so give me a break!–is pudding.  I know, it’s not very glamorous, but it is silkily smooth and comforting and homey.  And I’m gonna make some for myself him, ’cause I’m such a good nurse and all.  Now, when it comes to pudding, my favorite is probably butterscotch.  I even liked the boxed kind as a kid, you know–the kind that tastes like tan chemicals?  (It actually says, right on the box, that it contains less than 2% natural flavor). But, as with the pineapple upside down cake, I seem to have moved on from the kid version.  I now require a deeply, darkly, delicious buttery, caramelly pudding.  This means that I want real caramel in my butterscotch pudding.  That’s right–no faking it with a ton of brown sugar.  Only real caramel will do.  Nothing but the best for me my Beloved.

Here’s what I’m going to do:

Butterscotch Pudding (based on recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine, Dec 2002)
Serves one eight

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • a little water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn starch
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 TBSP Scotch (I might leave this out.  Because of the hydrocodone)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

This recipe is in three parts to make it easier for you.  For real.  The first part is some caramel sauce.  The second part gets cooked on the stove.  It’s your standard starch-thickened pudding base.  The third part is the yolks that you temper into your pudding base and the stuff you stir in off the heat.

Part 1

  1. Heat the sugar w/a little water to a boil.  Cover and let boil a couple of minutes to wash down any errant sugar crystals that might be lurking on the sides of the pan.
  2. Uncover and let boil over medium heat until it starts to caramelize.  Once the sugar is turning color, you can stir it with a white silicone spatula.  Okay, it doesn’t have to be white, but the white helps when you’re trying to judge the color.
  3. Once the caramel is a beautiful deep amber color, kill the heat and add the cream.  It will splutter and boil up and be all “WTH?” Just stir until it settles down.  Add the pinch of salt.

Part 2

  1. Put the dark brown sugar, (edited to read all of the) the corn starch, the salt and the dairy together in a sauce pan.  Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until well thickened.  It should boil for a few seconds.
  2. Stir your lovely caramel sauce into this mixture.

Part 3

  1. Whisk the yolks and the sugar together in a metal bowl.
  2. Pour about 1 cup of Parts 1 and 2 into the yolk/sugar mixture, whisking constantly.   Add enough custard so that the egg mixture is hot.
  3. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan.
  4. Stir over medium heat until the mixture reaches a simmer.  Don’t let it boil at this point.
  5. Off the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla and Scotch (if using).
  6. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, and portion into small bowls, wine glasses, or some type of vat.
  7. Chill until cold (but it’s pretty good warm, too)

So, think of The Beloved on Thursday as he is having his Tooth Chipped Out of His Head.  And check my facebook page on Friday.  I may have uploaded new pix.

Caramel for Grown-Ups, Dessert Version

12 Nov

Dark, grown-up caramel sauce

Dark, grown-up caramel sauce

Sorry if you weren’t ready for medium rare venison staring you in the face yesterday.  I am a champion of caramel, though, making the point that caramel is versatile.  Now, back to more traditional caramel–in desserts.  Very basic caramel sauce is made with about 2 parts caramelized sugar to 1 part cream.  Grow it up a little by adding salt, a little at a time, until it is perfect.

The color at which you decide the caramel is “done” has a direct effect on the resulting sauce.  I find that caramelized sugar that is lighter in color than, say, maple syrup, is too light and will result in a fairly bland and overly sweet caramel sauce.  The lighter the caramel, the more sweet and less complex the flavor.  I stop the caramelization process after the sugar has begun to smoke a little bit.  I know it’s ready when it starts to burn my eyes.  Of course, this takes some practice, so caramelize a little sugar at a time and experiment with arresting the cooking process when the sugar is anywhere from light honey to mahogany in color.  And how to arrest the cooking process?  Pour in your cream.  Make sure that your pot is much larger than you think you need, that it has a heavy bottom and that you stir with a long-handled heat resistant spoon, because the sugar will hiss and spatter and boil up in an alarming manner when you add the cream.

And by the way, you don’t have to add cream.  I’ve made caramel sauces with red wine and even stout.  I talked about using stock yesterday, but I’m trying to stick with desserts today.  Red wine caramel is a grown-up delight.  Make it in the same proportions–2 parts caramelized sugar to 1 part wine.  Flavor it with some salt, a splash of vanilla and maybe a little pat of butter.  Red wine caramel on poached pears, anyone?

And what about you–any experience with grown-up caramel?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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