Butterscotch Pudding

by rivka on December 31, 2011 · 5 comments

in comfort food, dessert, gluten-free

2011, over already? Jeez.

It was a big year, 2011. Perhaps not as epic as 2010 (marriage!), but 2011 saw our first anniversary (with drinks at the W and dinner at Palena – lucky us!) and, in the same month, the purchase of our first home (an awesome condo with plenty of open space, a dream kitchen, and a deck…have I really not shown you pictures yet? Wristslap! We’ll solve that soon.)

D started a new job this year, and I’ve been busier than ever at mine. More direct reports, more travel, and generally more responsibiity have all thrown something of a wrench in my grand plan to post more in 2011. You see, I’ve got so much to share with you; all sorts of little tips and tricks, entertaining ideas, and tasty morsels I ate in restaurants and tried to recreate at home. I want to share them all with you. But time was scarce in 2011, so some of those tips, tricks, ideas, and recipes – well, they’re still lodged in a far corn of my brain, waiting patiently for 2012.

Some of our cooking, eating, drinking, and food-coma-ranting did actually make it to this space, though. There were bourbon pecan bars and ginger brownies that will make you swoon, I guarantee it; Easy green beans with pesto vinaigrette that I’ve made, oh, 20 times since first posting about them; and of course, my favorite fish dish ever, which took me only 5 years to finally share with you – Veracruz-style snapper. With a new year on the horizon, I’m ready as ever to find more memorable food – and to share it with all of you.

So let’s get the new year off to an auspicious start, shall we?

Friends, you will adore this butterscotch pudding. It’s deeply caramelized, rich and thick, perfumed with plenty of vanilla and whisky. I’m thinking 2012 may just be the year of the pudding – and someone with top-notch food-prediction pedigree seems to agree with me. So here you go: the first pudding of 2012. It’ll be the first of many, I hope.

In fact, I’m already making good on that last wish. Tonight, we’re eating not one, but two different puddings for dessert. I’m setting up a Pudding Bar – and if, after this holiday season ends, you still have a hankering to entertain friends, you can do the same. I’m stocking the kitchen counter with big bowls of this here butterscotch pudding, as well as a chocolate coconut pudding from 101 Cookbooks. Alongside, I’ll have little bowls filled with toasted coconut, sliced almonds, two kinds of cookie crumbles, grated chocolate, and whipped cream. Everyone gets a bowl to make their own customized pudding parfaits. Entertaining at its easiest and most delicious, yes?

I thought you’d agree.

So here’s to a sweet 2012, filled with happiness, laughter, warmth, adventure, fear that comes with trying new things, and of course, plenty of pudding.

Butterscotch Pudding
adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz
Serves 4-6

So why did I dare change a David L recipe? Well, I wanted my sugar caramelized; I wanted some cream with my milk; and yes, I wanted more whiskey. So here you have it – a deeply caramelized butterscotch pudding with a generous helping of booze. Call it scotchy butterscotch.

1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup cream
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whipped cream, for topping
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated

Put sugar in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. When sugar starts to melt, begin stirring gently with a fork. The sugar quickly will turn from caramelized to burnt, so watch it like a hawk. When sugar has melted and has started to smell like caramel (but before it smells burnt!), stir in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. When butter has all been incorporated, add cream in a slow stream until it, too, has been fully incorporated. At this point, you should have a dark brown liquidy caramel. Remove pan from the heat, add salt, and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch or tapioca flour into 1/2 cup of milk, stirring until mixture is completely smooth. Add eggs one at a time, and whisk to incorporate.

Slowly pour the remaining milk into the saucepan with the caramel mixture, stirring to combine. Then add the starch slurry and whisk that in, too. Set over a medium flame and heat, whisking continuously, until mixture has the texture of hot fudge. remove from heat and whisk another 60 seconds to help the pudding cool. Add whiskey and vanilla, and whisk to combine.

You’ll refrigerate the pudding in the bowl(s) in which you plan to serve it. For family style, spoon it into a serving bowl. alternatively, set several small glasses or bowls on a rimmed baking sheet and spoon pudding into those dishes. If you like pudding skin, refrigerate either uncovered or covered with plastic wrap. If you don’t like pudding skin, press the plastic wrap against the surface of the pudding. (Incidentally, if you don’t like pudding skin, you can refrigerate the pudding in one large bowl, and apportion it right before serving. Whatever you prefer.)

To serve, top each cup of pudding with a dollop of whipped cream and a teaspoon or so of grated chocolate.

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