Creamy and rich salted caramel pudding is layered with homemade cookie crumbs and topped with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce. This dessert will impress anyone you serve it to!
**This recipe was shared before I went gluten-free. I’m working to update these non gluten-free recipes, but in the meantime you can easily make this by using store-bought gluten-free chocolate wafer cookies!
A few weeks ago when my family came to visit, we had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. After we sat down we had to wait a while until our server came over (they had a big group in before us and were still recovering). When she came to take our drink order, she noted that they would be on the house as well as our appetizer and dessert! Great service is hard to come by these days – we never complained, but it was nice that they wanted to take care of us on their own accord.
Anyway, the point I’m getting at is the dessert we had. We hadn’t planned on having dessert because we had birthday cake and caramel apple bars waiting for us. But, we saw the menu and the salted caramel pudding was just screaming my name! I suggested we get that (it was my birthday, after all) and each take a taste. Well, I had more than a taste and immediately said “I need to recreate this”!
So, here we are with my version! I made each element and layered them together parfait style. Not only is the dessert delicious, but it will also impress anyone you serve it to. It just looks so pretty in these stem-less wine glasses!
This isn’t the quickest dessert out there, but each component is really easy to make. I made the cookies the day before I planned on making the pudding, so it makes the process less time consuming. The cookie dough is basically a chocolate version of cutout sugar cookies. I over-baked the cookies slightly to make sure they were crispy – we want the crumbs to be crispy since they will soak up some moisture from the pudding.
Once you have them baked and cooled, just pop them into a plastic bag and go over it a few times with a rolling pin. Now, you have cookie crumbs!
I made my homemade caramel sauce right before I started the pudding, but you can make that ahead of time, too. To make things really easy, you could simply buy caramel sauce and chocolate wafers!
Once you have your caramel sauce made, you can start on the pudding. If you’ve never made homemade pudding you’ll be surprised at how easy it is. The process is quick, but then you have to have some patience while it cools. You want the pudding to be thick, but not too thick! It should coat a spoon and if you run your finger through, it will hold the line (be careful, it’s hot!). You’ll stir in the caramel sauce at the end; along with salt to make it “salted caramel pudding”. However, you can leave the salt out if you’re not into salted caramel.
While the pudding is cooling, I make the whipped cream. I’ve said before how easy it is and once you do it, you’ll never buy it in a store again. Basically, just whip cold cream until it’s at soft peaks. At this point, add the sugar and vanilla and then finish whipping until you have stiff peaks. It’s so easy and way better than anything you can buy.
Now, we are ready to assemble! This recipe will make 4 generous parfaits – I used stem-less wine glasses, but you can use any decorative glass or dish you have. Start by putting a layer of cookie crumbs in the bottom of each glass, and then top with a layer of pudding. Repeat with another layer of cookie crumbs and then a final layer of pudding. Top each serving with whipped cream, drizzle with caramel sauce and sprinkle some more cookie crumbs over top.
You can dig in right then, or you can cover and refrigerate the parfaits for up to 1 day. I found that they taste even better after they sit for a few hours, so if you can wait that long I’d recommend it!
I should note that my version tastes pretty similar to CPK’s version – so if you don’t want to make your own, head on over there and order this pudding! And some pizza, of course!
I think this dessert would be an impressive one to serve to company – plus it can be made completely ahead! I know if I were served this pudding I’d be one happy dinner guest.
- 2 Cups Milk*
- 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1 Tablespoon Butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 Teaspoon Flaked Sea Salt
- ¾ Cup Homemade Caramel Sauce
- ¾ Cup All Purpose Flour
- ½ Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Instant Espresso
- ¼ Teaspoon Baking Powder
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Stick (4 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, softened
- ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- ½ Cup Heavy Cream, very cold
- 2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
- ½ Teaspoon Vanilla
- Whisk together the milk and cornstarch and heat over medium heat until the mixture is hot and bubbles form around the edge of the pot. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks vigorously while adding a ladle-full of the hot milk mixture (this is tempering the eggs so they don’t scramble). Return the egg mixture back to the pot with the rest of the milk and whisk over medium/low heat until the pudding is thick, about 5-8 minutes. Slowly whisk in the butter cubes, one at a time until each is incorporated in. Stir in the vanilla extract, salt, and caramel sauce. Let cool and refrigerate until the pudding is well chilled.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugars on low spend until just combined. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until just combined. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture until just combined. Pour the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400º.
- On a floured board roll out the dough to about ¼-inch thick and cut the dough into circles using a biscuit cutter (or the rim of glass). Place the cookies on a baking sheet coated with parchment paper. You’ll get 6-8 cookies.
- Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes or until firm to the touch. Let the cookies cool completely and then crush by placing in a plastic bag and going over with a rolling pin.
- Pour the cold cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. (Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer to do this.) Whip until soft peaks form and the cream has tripled in volume. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and finish whipping until stiff peaks form – you’ll know this when you dip the whisk in and the cream holds a firm peak.
- Sprinkle some cookie crumbs in the bottom of 4 decorative serving glasses/dishes. Add a layer of the salted caramel pudding and then repeat each layer one more time. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, drizzle with caramel sauce, and a sprinkle of cookie crumbs. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day.
- I used 1% for my pudding. Whole milk will result in the best texture and thickness, but I don’t mind the thinner texture from the 1%. You can use whatever milk you have on hand.