Coconut Pudding with Caramel Sauce
My friend Susan Gutfreund is an excellent hostess. She decorates beautifully, too. And she can cook. In theatrical circles, one might call her a “triple threat”! One Christmas Eve, she served me this incredible pudding, and I asked her about the recipe so I could include it in this book. So delicious and so versatile, as it can be paired with a red fruit coulis, a chocolate sauce, or, my favorite, this caramel sauce. She told me its origin was another friend, Betsy Bloomingdale, from her own cookbook, and here’s what Susan had done to make small changes in it, et cetera . . . I adapted it for this book, have served it again and again, and the combination of the caramel and the coconut is unexpected and extraordinary.
NOTE: There is no question that this recipe would be better with fresh coconut, but I am neither diligent nor quite patient enough. I use both dried unsweetened coconut, softened in water, and sweetened coconut for the pudding and for garnish.
YIELD: About 6 cups, or 8 servings
1 cup sweetened coconut
2 cups half-and-half
1½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water
1 teaspoon almond extract
2½ cups grated coconut (unsweetened, dried, softened in warm water, and measured after draining)
3 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Caramel sauce (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spread ½ cup of the sweetened coconut on a metal baking sheet and toast it for about 5 minutes, until it is brown. Remove from the oven and reserve.
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the half-and-half to a boil. Whisk in the sugar and salt, and then transfer it to a large mixing bowl to let it cool slightly.
In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the gelatin in cold water. Whisk it into the half-and-half, and when the mixture is smooth add the almond extract and the unsweetened coconut.
Whip the cream and the powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form.
Add about a quarter of the whipped cream to the coconut mixture to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the mixture into a mold or a serving bowl, cover it, and refrigerate it overnight until it’s firm. Before serving, top it with the toasted coconut, and serve it with warm caramel sauce.
YIELD: 1½ cups
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 pound light brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a heavy saucepan or a double boiler over low heat, melt all the ingredients together except the vanilla until the sugar has dissolved. Be careful not to burn the sugar.
Remove it from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and serve the sauce warm.