salted butterscotch pudding

I don’t often order dessert when I eat out at restaurants, but when I do it’s probably because one of the following tantalized me: something with chocolate and peanut butter, a molten chocolate cake, or a butterscotch pudding. My game plan for eating out usually means saving my calories for wine, cheese, or bread (can you blame me?), but should you set in front of me one of the aforementioned desserts, I could not refuse.

Two of my best friends and I traveled to Palm Springs this May, and one of our dinners out we ordered a butterscotch pudding for dessert. We made the mistake of ordering just one pudding to share (I didn’t want to be the glutton that proposed ordering more, but hindsight is 20/20). That’s when I decided enough was enough- I needed my own butterscotch pudding recipe. Commissioned by my friends, I set out to make a version of butterscotch pudding that was slightly salted, not overwhelmingly sweet, and with a hint of vanilla and bourbon. After several iterations I am happy to now have this recipe at my fingertips, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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SALTED BUTTERSCOTCH PUDDING
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

makes 6 petit or 4 medium servings

pudding:
1 cup heavy cream*
1 cup whole milk*
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1.5 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (155g total)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt**
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional but recommended)

garnishes:
Maldon salt
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon crème fraîche

FYI, this pudding comes together rather quickly so I’ve added a few steps at the beginning to prepare you for things to run smoothly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, whole milk, and vanilla bean. Set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg, and cornstarch and set aside. Brown the butter in a small saucepan and, guess what, set that aside as well.

In a medium saucepan, stir together the brown sugar, sea salt, and water. Set the saucepan on the stove and turn the burner to medium-high. Let the mixture caramelize to a rich, dark-ish brown color for roughly 8-10 minutes without stirring! Don’t even think of stirring it (mine started caramelizing after 3 minutes on the stove and I removed it at the 8 minute mark). See my photo above for how your caramel should look. After your sugar has caramelized, remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream/milk/vanilla bean mixture, constantly whisking until incorporated. Your butterscotch may firm up into a ball during this step, but do not worry, it’s not ruined and will liquefy again when heated.

Return the pudding to the burner and adjust the heat to medium. Bring the pudding back to a gentle boil, frequently stirring, and remove from heat again. Using a heatproof cup or spoon, scoop out approximately 1/3 of the pudding and drizzle it slowly into your egg and cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly until well incorporated. Slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the saucepan.

Return the saucepan to medium heat, whisking constantly. The pudding should thicken quickly, and once it starts to simmer, remove immediately from heat. Whisk in the browned butter, vanilla extract, and bourbon. Immediately pour into heatproof pudding bowls, like 6 of these, or any small bowl of your choosing.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for approximately three hours, or until set. When ready to serve, beat together the whipping cream and crème fraîche until stiff peaks form. Serve each pudding with a pinch or two of maldon salt and a dollop of whipped cream. The pudding keeps well for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

*or two cups of half and half

**if you don’t use Maldon salt as a garnish, then increase sea salt to 3/4 teaspoon

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