I have a new favorite flavor of pudding – butterscotch. I will admit that I never liked butterscotch anything for most of my life because most things labeled “butterscotch” just tasted like caramel colored super sweet sugar. Enough to make my teeth hurt just thinking about it. I changed my mind many months ago when I was at a whole foods store (not Whole Foods TM, but a similar kind of store). I saw some store made butterscotch pudding in the cooler and something came over me to try it. It was topped with whipped cream and it was like heaven on a spoon. I paced myself and ended up eating it on three different occasions just to stretch it. It was that good. I started to think about the name and realized that it contains two of my favorite words – butter & scotch. What a revelation!
I also must admit while I am admitting things that this recipe has been waiting to get posted since Thanksgiving, as this was the dessert du jour on that favorite of all days (mine at least).
So once I decided this was going to be dessert, I went on the hunt for a good recipe and found this one by David Lebovitz. According to David: “… You’ll also notice I add a splash of whiskey. One theory is that the name ‘butterscotch’ is a derivation of ‘butter-scorched’. Others say it that it meant ‘scotching’ or cutting, which they did to slabs of buttery, creamy caramels when making candy. Although the name implies it, it doesn’t have to have scotch or whiskey in it, but I find the flavors marry so well that I can’t resist adding a little shot.” Interesting, but I totally don’t care, I want scotch in my butterscotch and so be it! I am glad David agrees. He also says something else I absolutely agree with: “But one decision I refuse to let you make is to be one of those people that wants to press plastic wrap on top of the puddings to avoid that delicious, chewy skin that forms on top. If you don’t like pudding skin, why are you eating pudding in the first place?” Thank you, spoken like a true pudding lover!
Of course there is also butter in the recipe which completes the prerequisites for my butterscotch pudding. The only way I deferred from the recipe is in the sweetener; I used coconut palm sugar instead of the brown sugar and found it to be absolutely lovely. I also topped it with fresh whipped cream and cocoa nibs. Since this recipe contains scotch, it is not technically gluten free. I was happy to find that it didn’t bother me in any way. Must be one of the perks of Scottish genes! But if you are GF, you could skip it and maybe allow the butter to brown before adding the sugar to it, to give it more of a deep flavor.
David Lebovitz’s Butterscotch Pudding (adapted from Ripe For Dessert)
4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
1 cup packed dark brown or cassonade sugar (I used coconut palm)
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2½ cups whole milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the dark brown sugar and salt, then stir until the sugar is well-moistened. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup (60ml) of the milk until smooth (there should be no visible pills of cornstarch), then whisk in the eggs.
Gradually pour the remaining milk into the melted brown sugar, whisking constantly, then whisk in the cornstarch mixture as well.
Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for one minute, whisking non-stop, until the pudding thickens to the consistency of hot fudge sauce.
Remove from heat and stir in the whiskey and vanilla. If slightly-curdled looking, blend as indicated above.
Pour into 4-6 serving glasses or custard cups and chill thoroughly, at least four hours, before serving.