Of sweet caramel and syrupy puddings!
I love food!! And this love for food came largely thanks to my mom ….she’s an amazing cook and used to cook up a lot of great stuff for us. I think she loved seeing our faces light up each time she opened the lid to some new delectable gastronomical delight at the dinner table and that still continues to be her sole goal in life…..to cook for us and see our happy faces on an even happier tummy!! She has this recipe book which holds a massive and impressive collection of recipes that she has tried and tested over the years. Very diligent and extremely organized in the kitchen, she’s also a very tidy person – while I, as you all know by now, am just the opposite….impulsive and disorganized!! She’d be cooking breakfast, lunch and part of dinner simultaneously, and apart from the pots on the stove, all you’d see on her kitchen counter-top is a ladle holder with a teeny bit of curry staining it and her cutting board with some veggies or some garnishing!! I have never figured how she manages that – each time, every day! My kitchen looks nothing short of a war zone when I’m cooking!! What amazes me is how despite having had my mom as my mom…..i never inherited her love for cooking or her organization skills!! But all is not lost mommy dearest……I’d like to believe I have inherited a bit of your fastidiousness. I like to have everything from pots and pans to bottles and boxes absolutely clean and spotless. Though my kitchen may remind you of a tornado hit area whilst I’m cooking, I do like to see my kitchen squeaky clean afterwards. I am trying and God knows I’m trying real hard!! 🙂
Coming back, there’s never been a dull moment in mom’s kitchen and desserts have been a constant there. She would bake amazing cakes, muffins, buns, breads, puddings and pies. She still bakes, and just a few days back she told me of this amazing date cake that she tried her hand at….yum yum yum!! I will definitely be sharing the recipe here soon. If there’s one thing I miss terribly about being a child – it is eating the amazing stuff she makes. Now I need to wait for her to visit me or for me to visit her. Such are the tragedies of life!!
This post is dedicated to my mommy and the one dessert that came most from her kitchen……the all time classic – caramel pudding! The saccharine layer of brown caramel with the mushy, wobbly pudding on top is a favourite among desserts. In addition to my mom’s recipe, I also came across another recipe for caramel pudding. What I’ve done is tried a combination of the two and tried to modify a step or two here and there! So here goes the recipe for caramel pudding.
For the custard
1 litre milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
For the caramel
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
Boil the milk with the sugar in it. Dissolve the sugar completely in the milk.
To prepare the caramel, add the sugar and water to a wide bottomed pan on medium heat. Wait for the sugar to start dissolving. With caramel the thumb rule is Never stir, always swirl. Keep swirling the pan to get the sugar moving. The water may not seem enough, but please resist the urge to add more water. The only reason you add water is to get the sugar to start melting easily. You’ll see that the water will soon evaporate as the sugar starts to caramelise. Once the sugar starts melting keep swirling the pan until the mixture turns an amber colour. (Statutory warning: The smell of caramel emanating from the pan will remind you of light and fluffy candy and you may be tempted to taste it, but desist from that urge – you will burn your tongue! :-)) Without delay, take a flat bottomed baking dish and pour the caramel into it. Swirl the baking dish immediately to coat the entire base. Let it cool completely. (See tips on how to handle caramel)
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks (See tips for how to). Beat the egg whites in a bowl until the mixture turns frothy. The more you beat the egg whites the better. What I found is that when I beat the egg whites separately, the final mixture ends up really frothy and when you bake it, the froth on the top browns and gives a nice sort of texture to the pudding. Now add the yolks, vanilla essence and hot milk with sugar to the egg white mixture and beat again until well blended. Heat this mixture for about 5 minutes on the stove.
Now pour this custard mixture into the baking dish with the caramel base. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes or until the pudding is set. To check if the pudding is set, simply stick a knife into the pudding and if the knife comes out clean then your pudding is ready.
1. Remember caramel starts to solidify as soon as you take it off the heat, so have your baking dish ready and resist the urge to dip any kind of spoon or spatula into the caramel. This will spoil the base and the caramel will stick like glue to the spoon/spatula. To get the entire caramel from the pan into the baking dish use a silicone spatula if you wish. If you do use a metal spoon/spatula, you may have a bit of a mess but nothing life threatening!! 😉 The leftover caramel on your pan and spatula will crystallize. You may painstakingly try getting it off the pan with something blunt (…….and eat it like toffee, which is what I did…. 😉 ) OR you may clean it with some really hot water first and then some soap.
2. Separating the white from the yolk is really simple. Use a yolk separator if you have one – or like me, if you do not, then simply break the egg in half and, while keeping your hands above a pan all the while, keep transferring the yolk from one half of the egg shell to the other. The egg white will keep dripping down into the pan and the yolk will remain in the egg shell half. Transfer the yolk into a bowl. Please do remember to always wash your eggs before trying this. You never know what misfortunes the poor egg had to endure before settling comfortably on the egg tray at home!!