If you’ve been on my social media in the past few days, you know I’ve been busy lately. Aside from working and blogging and petting dogs and being a person in New York City, I’m making a wedding cake!One of my nearest and dearest friends is getting married on Sunday, and asked yours truly to make a big, beautiful cake for her and her dream man. I said yes—it was a proposal this baker couldn’t refuse. Of course, July 15, 2018, seemed very far away when I agreed to this last summer. In fact, it didn’t start feeling imminent until May, when she and future hubs planned a trip home to NYC to make some final arrangements, including a cake tasting.Cut to June 4th when I showed up to the bride’s mother’s apartment with three little layer cakes: all vanilla, two with traditional Swiss Meringue Buttercream, one with Seafoam (brown sugar) Swiss Meringue Buttercream, two with mocha filling (the bride’s request), and one with caramel (the groom’s favorite). I wasn’t too confident, not because I didn’t think the cakes would taste good, but because this isn’t just any ol’ cake, you know?The original plan was that they would choose one filling and one frosting and that would be that. About five minutes into the tasting we were all in agreement—vanilla, mocha, and bright-white Swiss Meringue Buttercream. But that was before the mother of the bride randomly stacked a bite of the caramel-filled cake on top of a bite of the mocha-filled cake and then insisted the rest of us do the same. Just like my friend and her betrothed, each filling was fine on its own, but they were better together—the combination of chocolate, espresso, and dark caramel is divine. And so, it stands that this cake will be vanilla layers with Swiss Meringue Buttercream and alternating mocha and caramel fillings.Since this cake has to be made, transported, and assembled in the middle of a hot, humid NYC July, I had to take melting into consideration when developing the recipe(s). Traditional American Buttercream (butter + confectioners sugar + vanilla + heavy cream, AKA most of the frostings on this site) was out as a filling/frosting option—too prone to melting. Instead, the fillings and frosting are all at least partially egg-based. Eggs are textural and structural powerhouses in cooking and baking, and most importantly, they don’t melt.The frosting, which I’ll write more about on Friday, is made from egg whites, while the fillings are made with the yolks. The mocha filling is simply my chocolate pudding with a tablespoon of espresso granules added to the dry ingredients—easy peasy. I’ve already gone on and on about its richness and depth, and used it as a cake filling.Today is all about the caramel filling—this rich, silky, insanely delicious pudding that is practically like eating a little bowl of pure caramel! So freaking good.Caramel Pudding is a streamlined spin on the Butterscotch Cream Pie filling I made last fall. It’s super quick and easy to make, coming together in just 15 minutes on the stovetop. You may absolutely enjoy it without any accoutrements, but I especially love it with whipped cream and a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce.And, of course, it also works well as a cake filling, if whispers of dark caramel between layers of buttery vanilla cake are a thing you’re into.They are definitely a thing I’m into.
makes 4 servings
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Combine sugar, light corn syrup, apple cider vinegar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy-bottomed 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Whisking constantly, cook until dark amber, about 7-8 minutes. Do not burn. Whisk in milk. Mixture will bubble violently and caramel may briefly seize, but keep whisking until it has smoothed out and boiled for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk 1/3 of the mixture into the egg yolks. Return egg yolk mixture to pot and place back over medium-high heat. Whisking constantly, bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla and butter.
Push through a sieve to remove lumps. Divide mixture among 4 4-ounce ramekins. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surfaces. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, or until cold.
When ready to serve, top with whipped cream and caramel sauce, if desired.
Caramel Pudding will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.