Caramel Pudding with Sweet and Salty Pecans

My friend Kelley of Mountain Mama Cooks made a bucket list for 2013 filled with great foodie goals like making homemade pasta and breaking down a chicken. On her list also was mastering real caramel. I read that and immediately volunteered to be a part of making that goal happen. I’m not an expert or anything, though I do feel pretty comfortable making caramel. Mostly, I just love the stuff.

We set a date, but had to reschedule at least a dozen times. Sick kids and snow storms got in the way and it looked like our caramel day wasn’t meant to be. Until today! We finally were able to make it work and it was a smashing success.

Caramel Pudding with Sweet and Salty Pecans

Caramel Pudding with Sweet and Salty Pecans

We each brought a caramel based recipe, and stood over the stove watching sugar melt and caramelize while catching up and swapping stories. Kelly made the most amazing caramel sauce heavily spiked with High West Whiskey. It was so incredible that we practically licked the pan clean.

I had been wanting to try Smitten Kitchen’s caramel pudding for months now and this seemed like the perfect chance. It was every bit as rich and creamy as I’d imagined. What made it even better was a little whipped cream, some candied pecans, and a sprinkling of sea salt. And you want to know what sent it all completely over the top? A little drizzle of Kelley’s caramel sauce. Oh yeah. Maybe that’s a little much, sure, but over the top never tasted so good.

Caramel Pudding with Sweet and Salty Pecans

Don’t let caramel intimidate you

The first time you make caramel it may seem like you’ve ruined it at more than one stage in the process, but don’t give up. First, be strong and let the sugar melt and brown without stirring it, it’ll all caramelize just fine. Swirl the pan if looks like it’s caramelizing unevenly, that will help incorporate any unmelted sugar.

Then, when you add your milk or cream, don’t freak out when it bubbles and steams violently. That’s supposed to happen. And don’t worry if some of it seizes up either. Keep whisking while you add all of the liquid and then return it to the heat. Any hardened caramel will melt again and with the help of a little whisking, you’ll end up with a smooth caramel sauce.

Caramel Pudding with Sweet and Salty Pecans

Caramel Pudding
A rich and creamy salted caramel pudding. Serve with whipped cream and candied pecans.
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 4 cups (1 quart, 1 liter) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons (50 grams) cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoons salt
  1. Whisk together ½ cup of the milk with the cornstarch. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, place the sugar over medium heat. Let the sugar melt and caramelize, swirling the pan if necessary to make sure it caramelizes evenly. Keep a close watch to make sure it doesn't burn.
  3. When the sugar has completely caramelized, remove from heat and slowly pour in the 3½ cups of milk whisk whisking constantly. The caramel will bubble and steam violently at the beginning. Once all the milk has been added, return the pan to the medium heat and whisk to dissolve any caramel that may have hardened. Boil for a few minutes until slightly thickened.
  4. Slowly whisk in the milk and cornstarch mixture, vanilla, and salt and stir until pudding is thickened. Salt according to your preferences. Pour mixture through a mesh strainer (optional) and chill for at least one hour. Serve with sweetened whipped cream and sweet and salty pecans.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen .

Sweet and Salty Pecans
Candied pecans with a hint of salt.
Yield: About 1 cup
  • 3 tablespoons (40 grams) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) butter
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (80 grams) pecan halves
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, salt, and butter over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pecans and continue to cook while stirring until sugar turns golden brown, about 3 minutes.
  2. Immediately spoon the pecans onto a parchment paper lined sheet pan, using a fork the separate them. Sprinkle with additional coarse salt.

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16 Responses to Caramel Pudding with Sweet and Salty Pecans

  1. Oh Annalise- I finished off the caramel sauce last night with nothing but a spoon! Your pudding is waiting in the fridge for me (I’m thinking a late breakfast). Thank you SO much for the help. It’s always great to catch up and hang out! Have a fantastic weekend and look forward to doing it again soon!!

    • Annalise says:

      I finished the sauce off almost immediately as well, and I’m thinking I need to make it again ASAP. Thanks for a fun afternoon!

  2. Tasha Zee says:

    This looks amazing… deliciously amazing.. yummy!

  3. Swooning! Thanks you for reminding me I need more caramel pudding in my life asap 🙂

  4. You had me at caramel. I LOVE all things homemade pudding!

  5. Caramel is one of those freaky things that is super intimidating until you actually try it! This looks incredible.

    • Annalise says:

      Exactly! Anyone can do it, we just need to get over that initial fear. Definitely been there. Thanks for so many nice comments! 🙂

  6. Maria says:

    I am thinking I should add caramel to my to do list…even though I’ve made it before! This pudding needs to happen!

  7. Cardamom fig says:

    Yum! I love all things caramel but am always scared its gonna seize – still, I’m gonna give it a go

    • Annalise says:

      My caramel almost always seizes a little bit (or a lot), but when you return it to the heat it all melts back into the sauce and turns out okay in the end. Don’t give up. Good luck!

  8. Kalyn says:

    OMG, I would love this. I love all things caramel.

  9. Dyskalkulie says:

    This pudding looks like the best caramel ever. Love the combination of creamy pudding and crunchy pecan!

  10. Jay Schweidler says:

    the pudding is really delicious and sweet but it takes hours to get thicker. In the end, I just used a bit agar agar and everything was perfect. ;D

    • Annalise says:

      Did you remember to add the cornstarch. That should get the pudding good and thick in no time at all.

      • Jay Schweidler says:

        yes I did add the cornstarch but after a few minutes of cooking it was still too liquid. However, are you sure that 1 liter isn’t a bit too much milk? I read that only 230ml fit into a cup….oh I’m confused. ^^

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