Salted Caramel Budino

I've decided to start a little project to make my kitchen less crowded and messy. My kitchen is very small to begin with. I have a cupboard dedicated to my baking ingredients, but that is also getting too small. I've sneaked a few things into my cooking cupboard, but now it's a big mess in all the cupboards. I've even had to store things like flour and sugar on top of my fridge.

It's time for a change! I have a plan.

There is a closet near my kitchen that is currently home to a box of Christmas decorations and some sentimental stuff that I can't bring myself to throw away. The plan is simple, really. Move the boxes and stuff down to the storage locker. Put up shelves in the now empty closet. Store baking things, pots, and pans in the closet. 

It sounds simple enough, but knowing me, I'll find a way to make it difficult. I'm not much of a handyperson. The most I've done with a hammer is nail in some hooks for paintings. Even that took a couple tries. 

But, come on, shelves can't be that hard! You just screw a couple things in the wall and you're done, right? Or ones that you assemble from an instruction book? I can do that!

This has spurred daydreams about mason jars with chalkboard labels, pots hanging according to size, and perpetual neatness. I'm guessing that most of it will not actually happen. Chalkboard labels would get smudged, I only have two pots, and I am not neat. I might have a couple mason jars in there, maybe some cute bins for storing flour, but it's not like it'll be Pinterest-worthy. 

I will update you all on the success/failure of my closet makeover when the time comes.

Salted Caramel Budino
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

3 cups whole milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
5 large free range, organic egg yolks
3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons dark rum (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Salted Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 56 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

To make the budino, whisk 1/2 cup of milk and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining 2 1/2 cups milk in a small saucepan to just a simmer and set aside.

Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl until pale. Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking vigorously. Add the cornstarch mixture and whisk until combined. Set aside.

Combine the brown sugar and 3/4 cup of water in another saucepan. Dissolve the sugar over medium heat while stirring with a heat-proof spatula. Increase the heat to high and cook without stirring until an instant-read thermometer registers 210-220 degrees Fahrenheit or 98-105 degrees Celsius. Take off the heat.

Gradually whisk the caramel into the milk and egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Over medium heat and whisking constantly, cook the mixture until it thickens, about 3 to 4 minutes. 

Remove from heat and whisk in butter, salt, and rum, if using. Pour into small jars or glasses and refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours.

For the sauce, scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean. Pour the cream into a measuring cup and add the vanilla seeds and bean.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Dissolve the sugar over medium heat. Increase the heat to high and cook without stirring until it turns a deep amber colour. Remove from heat and slowly add the cream, whisking constantly. The caramel will bubble up considerably when you do this, so be careful. 

Return to heat and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until it is thick and smooth. It will continue to bubble up while it is cooking. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and salt. Strain the mixture and let it cool slightly.

Let the puddings come to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the caramel sauce over each pudding and serve!