Delight your tastebuds with this salted caramel custard pie, and be sure to read the review of its inspiration, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley!
For the crust:
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup very cold butter, sliced (I use salted because I’m lazy like that. You may prefer to use unsalted and add salt to taste, approx 1 teaspoon.)
6-8 T ice cold water
(optional) 1/4 cup toffee bits
For the salted caramel:
1/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 T butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
1 t vanilla
1 t salt (or to taste, less if using salted butter)
For the custard filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 T butter, melted
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 T vanilla extract
1/4 t ground nutmeg
Start with the crust:
The secret to a flaky crust is twofold: use very cold ingredients and work the dough as little as possible. For a non-baker like myself, the easiest way to do this is to use a food processor.
- Add 1-1/2 cups of flour and the cut butter (plus salt, if using) into the food processor and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the remaining cup of flour. Pulse until just combined and the mixture resembles the innards of a bean-bag chair (that is not a culinary term, but it’s what it reminds me of).
- Transfer mixture into a mixing bowl and sprinkle 6 T of ice cold water over top. Gently press water into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula, being careful not to overmix. If you press some of the dough between your fingers and it stays together, you’re done. If it falls apart, sprinkle 1-2 more T of ice water and gently press in.
- Quickly press the dough mixture together into a ball, being careful not to overwork it. Cut in two and wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour and up to three days.
- Once dough has chilled, roll out onto a lightly floured surface into a round large enough to fit your pie plate. Trim and crimp the edges. (This recipe only uses one crust. You can freeze the other for up to two months, if desired, or just half the recipe to begin with.)
- Return the prepared pie crust to the fridge for at least 30 minutes before filling.
Next, make the salted caramel:
- Add the water and sugar to a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. This mixture will bubble up drastically when mixed with other ingredients, so be sure to use a pan larger than you think you need.
- Over medium heat, stir the water and sugar until sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble a little.
- Turn the heat to high until it comes to a boil. Stop stirring and watch carefully until the boiling mixture turns an amber color. This can take anywhere from 4-12 minutes (mine took about 5).
- Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the heavy whipping cream. This is when the mixture will bubble up– be careful! Then whisk in the butter, vanilla, and salt one at a time.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool. Cover tightly and transfer to the fridge to finish cooling completely.
- Once the caramel has cooled completely, pour enough into the prepared pastry shell to coat the bottom of the pie. Return to the fridge while prepping the custard.
Now for the custard filling:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a mixing bowl, beat eggs for approximately 2 minutes, until light and frothy.
- Gradually add sugar, milk, evaporated milk, vanilla, and nutmeg and mix until well-combined. Pour into the prepared pie shell over the salted caramel.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes until the top is light brown. The center will still be quite jiggly and will firm up as it cools. Mine took the full 60 minutes and I lightly covered it with aluminum foil at 45 minutes so the crust wouldn’t burn.
- Cool on the counter (or the windowsill to be true to the book!) for at least 15 minutes, then transfer to the fridge to cool completely.
Plate it up:
Before serving, drizzle with additional salted caramel and (optional) toffee bits. Indulge in the sweetness at the bottom of the pie!
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