One of my new favorite foodie show is definitely Unique Sweets/ Unique Eats on the Cooking channel. The way they film the food is utterly gorgeous, and seriously makes me salivate every single time I watch... it's painful and delightful all at the same time. I guess I'm a masochist of sorts...
Anyways, I was watching the episode that featured breakfast pastries, and while drooling extensively, I came across a breakfast pastry that I knew I had to try to recreate at home. I forget the name of the bakery now, but basically they make their own puff pastry, pre-bake it, then fill it with salted caramel, custard then brulee the whole thing. Sounds pretty decadent for a breakfast pastry doesn't it? Well, it sure sounds like heaven to me.
Of course, re-creating it at home, I simplified the process because I was no way in hell gonna make my own puff pastry! I happened to also have some leftover salted caramel sauce from a cake I made the weekend before... so it was all a snap for me. Just as it is, this pastry is amazing, but to add my own little twist to it, I added some sliced strawberries in the center to cut the sweetness a little and add a some freshness. But honestly, this is one of the simplest, most delicious, ingenious things I've ever eaten - I urge you to make it immediately!!
Salted Caramel Crème Pastries
Yields: 18 pastries
For the custard:
1 small package instant vanilla bean pudding
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla
For the salted caramel:
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup corn syrup
4 tbsn. butter, softened, cut into cubes
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. fleur de sel or any other sea salt
1 package puff pastry, defrosted, each sheet cut into 9 squares
1 cup strawberries, sliced thinly
coarse sugar, such as turbinado
To make the caramel, stir together the sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high, stop stirring and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Continue boiling until the mixture turns a deep caramel color. If you are unsure of when to turn off the heat, the mixture should register 300 F on a candy thermometer. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and add the heavy cream and butter, being careful as it should bubble up vigorously. Add the salt, then allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spread the squares of puff pastry on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, leaving about 1" in between each. Use a 3" round cookie cutter to impress a circle into each square (this will help to form a indentation later after baking so that it can be filled with cream). Bake until golden brown, about 12 - 15 minutes. Once golden brown, remove to a wire rack to cool. While baking, you can make the custard. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pudding mix, heavy cream, milk and vanilla until smooth and the mixture starts to thicken. Set aside in the refrigerator for about 10 more minutes so that it can firm up some more.
To assemble, use a spoon to press in the circle indentations to make room for the custard. In each indentation, add about 1 tbsn. of the salted caramel. Add a few sliced strawberries, then top with custard, filling to the top. Sprinkle the tops with sugar, then use a torch to brulee until the sugar has melted and caramelized. Repeat with remaining pastries. Enjoy!