I know I’ve been doing a lot of salted caramel things lately.
I’m addicted. #sorry #notsorry
You’re here for it though, so I guess you like it too! Yay!
I can’t remember what sparked me to make this… but here it is, existing and prospering like a puff pastry should. It starts with good store bought puff pastry (please feel free to make your own, I’m not that cool yet). I recommend trying to find “all-butter” puff pastry (Trader Joes has a good version), vs. the other stuff that’s mostly hydrogenated soybean oils and such. All-butter is always all-better.
Next, the pastry cream. It’s basically fancy homemade pudding that’s pretty easy to make from scratch, just read the technique in the directions to become familiar with the steps, there are a couple of steps where you have to work quickly. However…I would not be mad at you (okay, a little mad on some “c’mon just try ittttt, it’s easy!” but not like “ugh I hate bell peppers!” mad) if you wanted to take a shortcut and use Jell-O Instant Vanilla pudding out of the box. Read the package instructions for “pie filling” (not pudding – filling usually requires less milk), but before following the package instructions, steep the Earl Gray tea in warm milk for one hour, then continue with the rest of the package instructions for pie filling.
It’s better homemade though… just saying.
Finally, the salted caramel sauce. This recipe makes WAY MORE than the required amount for the pastries. And you are SO welcome. *curtsies* Keep it in a jar and spread it all over your life.
I knooooooow it looks like a lot of steps and super complicated but really, it’s just a bunch of small easy steps. The complication is minimal if you just take it one little step at a time. Just make sure you have everything in place before you start so you’re not scrambling around the kitchen looking for the heavy cream or a jar to pour the caramel in. Make the pastry cream first since that needs time to chill, then the salted caramel. The pastry cream can even be made a couple of days ahead of time, as well as the caramel, if you’d like to space out the recipe over a couple days.
Let’s start with the pastry cream.
Now, the salted caramel sauce. \o/
Let’s get into that puff pastry now.
Salted Caramel Earl Grey Creme Brûlée… Things.
makes 18 pastries in about 2.5 hours (including chill time for pastry cream)
for the earl gray pastry cream
2 cups whole milk
2 bags Earl Grey Tea (or ~2 tbsp of loose Earl Grey Tea)
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed into small pieces
for the salted caramel sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1 cup of sugar
2 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp water
1 tsp flaky sea salt
1 package puff pastry, preferably all-butter
coarse sugar (like turbinado, a.k.a. Sugar in the Raw)
for pastry cream
In a medium sauce pan, heat milk over medium heat until it begins to steam. Don’t let it boil. Add in tea bags and remove from heat. Let steep for one hour.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla paste and salt to the milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, corn starch and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. While whisking constantly, add in the warm milk mixture, 1/2 a cup at a time, until fully incorporated into the yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the sauce pan and place over medium high heat. Whisk constantly as the mixture thickens – about two minutes. At this point the mixture may look a little lumpy and ruined, it’s okay – we’re going to beat it into submission.
Transfer the mixture to medium bowl and add in cubed butter. Using a hand mixer (or a whisk and the best elbow grease ever), beat in the butter until full incorporated and the mixture cools down – about five minutes.
Cover with plastic wrap, being sure that the plastic wrap is directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for at least two hours. This will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days. Right before you’re ready to use the pastry cream, whip it with a hand mixer or a whisk.
for the salted caramel sauce
In a microwavable safe bowl, combine cream and butter and warm until butter is just melted – about 45 seconds. Stir in vanilla paste or extract and set aside.
In a large sauce pan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Heat over medium-high, swirling the pan around occasionally to prevent any hot spots from occurring. Don’t stir with a spoon – this can potentially create some crystallized sugar and mess your whole game up. Just swirl the pan around gently.
Boil the sugar mixture until it becomes an amber color – you’ll see the bubbles get smaller the closer it gets to amber. This happens quickly, so keep an eye on it. Once amber color has been reached, turn the heat to low and whisk in the warm cream and butter. Whisk constantly to prevent crystallization and lumps. Whisk in sea salt.
Place in a heat-proof jar (glass with a lid, preferably) and let cool completely before placing a lid on top.
Don’t eat it all. Yet.
for the puff pastry
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Cut puff pastry into 9 squares – my pastry was 10″x10″, which resulted in ~3″ squares. Spread the squares of puff pastry on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, leaving about 1″ in between each. Depending on the size of your squares, use a 2″ – 3″ round cookie cutter to indent a circle into each square (there should be a 1/4-1/2″ border around the circle, these will be the “edges” of the pastry. Bake until golden brown, about 12 – 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
put it all together, nah
Using a spoon, gently push in the center of the puff pastry, using the indentations made with the cookie cutter as your guide.
In each little pastry puff indentation, add about 1/2 tablespoon of the salted caramel and spread evenly across the bottom (use more caramel if your pastry squares were larger than 3″). Top with 1 tablespoon of the Earl Grey pastry cream. Sprinkle the top with the turbinado sugar, then (YEEE!! the fun part) brûlée the top of the sugar (taking care to keep the flame on low as to not burn the pastry) until browned. The sugar will get crunchy as it cools.
Now demolish them all.