Desserts at famed New York City restaurant Gramercy Tavern evoke nostalgia and deliver a complex experience. With this recipe from The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2013), you can make this creamy chocolate pudding more intriguing by serving it with the slightly bitter salted caramel sauce, deeply caramelized croutons, and a pinch of sea salt.
Recipe from The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook
Serves 6 to 8
4 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
3⁄4 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped
Brioche Croutons (recipe follows)
In a medium saucepan, bring 3½ cups of the milk and ¾ cup of the sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ cup sugar, the cornstarch, cocoa, and salt. Whisk in the remaining ½ cup milk, then whisk in the yolks.
When the milk mixture comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and slowly pour about a cup of the hot liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper it.
Pour the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly; be sure to get into the edges of the pan to keep the mixture from sticking or burning. Boil for a full minute, whisking constantly, then pass the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl.
Whisk in the chocolate, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Transfer the pudding to a large bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap placed in direct contact with the pudding, and refrigerate until cold. Serve the pudding topped with the salted caramel sauce, the whipped cream, brioche croutons, and a pinch of sea salt.
Salted Caramel Sauce
Makes 2 ½ cups
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and ¼ cup water (being careful not to get sugar on the sides of the saucepan, where it can crystallize), and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil the syrup, without stirring, until it becomes an amber color (about 340°F on a candy thermometer), about 8 minutes.
When the caramel is ready, immediately remove it from the heat. Very slowly and carefully pour the hot cream down the side of the saucepan into the caramel, making sure your hand and arm are not over the saucepan. Stir to combine, getting into the edges of the saucepan to keep the mixture from burning or sticking. Then stir in the butter and salt. (Resist the urge to taste the caramel immediately, because it is seriously hot.) If the sauce is lumpy, stir it over medium heat until the lumps dissolve.
If you’re not using the sauce immediately, transfer to a container and let cool, then cover. Salted caramel sauce will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for 2 weeks; reheat before serving.
Makes about 2 cups
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄4 pound Brioche or other bread, crusts removed and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the bread, stir to coat, and sprinkle with the sugar. Stir gently and constantly with a spatula until the sugar melts and the croutons are caramelized on all sides. Transfer to a baking sheet and let cool completely. The croutons are best the day they are made.
Check out more recipes from The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook: