Rarely, remember, is not never, and once in a while I too am reduced to eyebrow-raising behavior by a dessert. Currently, a butterscotch pudding has me on my knees. It's not surprising to find me with a pot, coated with the remains of pudding cooked minutes before in one hand, a spatula in the other working every bit of the warm heaven into my mouth.
Because the pudding is on my menu, I find myself in this compromising position at least 3 times a week. Due to it's ease in preparation, I find myself preparing and falling prey to this pudding nearly every weekend. I have carried it to friends houses, picnic's, and dinners parties. Sometimes I bring banana's to caramelize and nest on top, sometimes just clouds of billowy whipping cream. Adorned or not, I find this pudding manages to break a few others who are caught searching for the serving bowl in hopes licking it clean.
Note that the use of dark brown sugar is important for achieving a truly rich flavor. Light brown sugar will make a butterscotch pudding, and if you are in a pinch, use it. But do seek out the dark brown sugar, the flavor will reward you.
4 tbsp butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup cream
2 cups milk
2 tbsp scotch, brandy, or whisky
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp corn starch
1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over the lowest heat. Do not let the butter sizzle and separate. If this happens, discard it and get new butter.
2. Add the brown sugar and salt, and stir into the butter. Turn the heat up to medium and cook the sugar until it begins to bubble, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching. When the bubbling begins, stir and let it bubble for about 30 seconds.
3. Add the cream in small additions, stirring between each. When all the cream is incorporated, add the milk, scotch, and vanilla all at once. Stir to combine and set aside.
4. Whisk the eggs and cornstarch until even. I find that the cornstarch will be lumpy at first, but if you whisk it a first time while the brown sugar is caramelizing, then come back and re-whisk it after the milk is incorporated, the liquid in the eggs will soften the lumps and they distribute evenly.
5. Whisk 1 cup of the warm butterscotch cream into the starchy eggs until evenly combined. Return this to the sauce pan of butterscotch cream, whisking to combine.
6. Begin cooking the pudding over medium to medium high heat, stirring all the while with a whisk. The mixture will begin to thicken after 3 to 5 minutes. Continue whisking constantly, watching for the first signs of bubbling. When the mixture just begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low and set a timer for 2 minutes. (if you are using an electric range, have a second burner preheated to a low setting) Stir the pudding over the low heat for 2 minutes.
7. Remove from heat, and immediately pour into a bowl to stop the hot pan from further cooking the pudding. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface to avoid a skin forming and let cool at room temp for an hour, then place in the fridge. Alternately, divide the hot pudding up between individual cups and let a skin form. I have to admit, I like a little skin, as it is a defining characteristic of home cooked pudding to me!