Sea Salt Caramel Croissant Pudding
Sacrilegious me had some croissants from Tiong Bahru Bakery lying in the fridge for more than a week now and had totally forgotten about them! They were suppose to be used in sandwiches for a simple lunch the next day after I’d bought them but I ran out of cheese and ham in the fridge and ended up cooking some other stuff instead thus neglecting the croissants quite conveniently. A few days ago, I did recall buying them but just couldn’t find them around. Thought Dad ate them across the weekend or something. As I was clearing out the fridge this morning, I chanced upon a suspicious looking paper bag and blimey, my two croissants once lost are now found!
It would be such a waste chucking them into the bin. They are Tiong Bahru Bakery croissants after all. Probably the best we have in Singapore at this moment. Stale, albeit delicious I’m sure. A quick search over the internet and came a simple recipe by the Kitchen Goddess. Nigella Lawson’s “Caramel Croissant Pudding” these two fellas seemed destined to become!
I am quite a Nigella junkie, having watched all her shows over youtube and collected most of her cookbooks. She’s such a “real” cook, dropping eggshell into the bowl, confessing not to know how to will a cleaver, literally being a “klutz” most of the time. While being very up close and personal, making all the mistakes all of us would necessarily make at home, she exudes an aura of aristocratic charm amidst her clever use of Brit wit which makes watching her shows all the more enjoyable and entertaining. Despite watching her over youtube all the time, I’d not really used her cookbooks as fervently as I really ought to. Quite odd really…
The poor girl has been under quite a bit of flame and fire of late, first being battered by her husband and now having to go through a divorce. Now in retrospect, I must say that the writings are already on the wall it seems when she was making “Nigellissima”. Her presentation and appeal looked noticeably “darker” with frequent locking of her brows and somewhat lacking in the humour department compared to her previous series. Hope she pulls through it all safe and sound. What will we do without our Kitchen Goddess…
Her recipe for Caramel Croissant Pudding is quite a no brainer actually. In fact it is hardly a recipe at all. It is precisely this that NIgella is most well-known for and why she is so well-loved by her fans. Simplicity at its best with no compromises to be made for indulgence or comfort whatsoever. The recipe actually calls for stale croissants! Now what can be more real than that?
While she tears and rips her croissants apart in an utterly unceremonious manner, I chose to cut them up instead, so that i could have them in exactly the same size I want. I’d wished for some bits of the croissant to be peeking through the custardy concoction so that they would crisp up during baking. A wonderful juxtaposition in texture I had imagined with bits of crisp croissant swimming in a lush velvety egg custard.
The second change I’d made is to include fleur de sel into the caramel. Sea salt caramel must surely be one of the most delicious things in the world and it rates quite highly in my own list of things to eat before I die! So to have salt in caramel is an absolute quintessential thing to do. I’m sure Nigella would so approve!
Unlike some of her other recipes which hardly require any cooking, this one “unfortunately” does. The sugar has to be first heated without being stirred for the sugar to melt and not crystallise. It has to be heated to a lovely amber hue driving the sugar almost to the brink of burning but not quite. A well-made caramel should actually carry a very faint hint of bitterness and definitely not being overtly sweet.
Care must be taken to make sure that the mixturee of cream and milk added does not spill and splutter too much when it is being incorporated into the superheated sugar. Use a reasonably deep sauce pot to factor the built up of gases that is to be anticipated. Once the milk and cream are added, the concoction is stirred quickly to homogenise. Fleur de sel is then added together with rum, yet another “modification” I’d made simply because I don’t have bourbon at home. I’d waited for the caramel to cool down slightly before adding a part of it into a bowl with beaten eggs. Tempering the eggs helps to prevent them from curdling so that a smooth custard will be formed subsequently. The results are indeed very good. And in the words of Nigella, “This is food fit for angels to eat on their clouds… though it would have to be quite weight bearing clouds obviously!” I couldn’t have said it better…
2 stale croissants
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
2 tablespoons rum or bourbon
1 tsp fleur de sel (subsitute with any sea salt)
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs, beaten slightly
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Tear the croissants into pieces and put in 2 small gratin dishes.
Put the sugar and water into a deep saucepan, and swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the hob over medium to high heat. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture by letting it bubble away until it all turns a deep amber (appro. 3 to 5 min) while keeping a watchful eye over it taking care not to allow the sugar to burn.
Take the pan off the heat and add the cream – ignoring all spluttering – followed by milk and finally bourbon. Whisk to mix and add a small portion of the caramel sauce into a bowl containing the beaten eggs. Pour the egg mixture back into the pot with the remaining caramel sauce and gie everything a final whisk before adding the final mixture quickly over the torn up croissants and leave to steep for 10 min for the croissant to soak up the custard mixture.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20 min.
Get ready your spoon and enjoy.