Let’s talk pudding.
Pudding, in the all-American sense, is that soft, spoonable, comfort dessert that we all know and love. The homemade stuff, not to be mistaken with dry-packet you stir with some milk or those little plastic cups with the foil on top. Not those guys, not ever. Let’s talk about the stuff made on the stovetop with things from your pantry and fridge. The kind that stirs up faux-nostalgia, ’cause my mom never made pudding and definitely never made it from scratch, or the real kind of nostalgia if your mom/grandma rolled that way. Let’s talk about the kind that has egg yolks, lots of dairy, and begins or ends with butter. That’s the kind of pudding I have come to love, being the kid that was deprived of the good stuff until I had my own kitchen and will to whip it up myself. Usually, I stir some butter into the pudding at the end, it makes it silky, lately that butter has been browned for the sake of flavor and science. Not really for science, I just like to say that I’m doing stuff for science. It seems more official that way.
Anyway…this pudding begins with butter–and duh, I browned it–also, lots of brown sugar. Those two things are what butterscotch is made of, not those orange-colored hard candies you find all stuck together in a dish at grandma’s.
Butter + brown sugar=butterscotch and love. A pinch of salt makes the sweet, sweet sugar sing. There’s also whole milk, egg yolks, and a little bit of cream. All of those guys add richness and goodness. You can add bourbon, or whiskey, or scotch if you want. That’s not necessary, but it is delicious and slightly boozy tasting. You can decide whether or not you want to go that route and get the bonus points.
Adapted from David Lebovitz
So, if you find you are out of brown sugar, like I totally did, you can make it your self by mixing together plain-old-granulated sugar with molasses. My ratio is 1 cup of sugar to 1 tablespoon of molasses, mix, mix, mix, and done.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium sauce pot, brown butter over medium low heat. The milk solids will become brown and smell nutty like toffee, watch it closely so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and immediately stir in brown sugar and salt. Once the sugar is completely moistened with the butter, whisk in the milk.
In a small bowl whisk together the cream and the cornstarch until smooth. Whisk in the eggs. Whisk the egg mixture into the milk and butterscotch mixture and heat over medium, whisking constantly, until the pudding thickens to coat a spoon and is the consistency of hot fudge sauce. Remove from heat and stir in whiskey and vanilla. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, pulse a few times to aerate. Pour into individual cups (4-6) or into a large bowl and cover well with plastic touching the surface (to prevent a skin from forming), allow to cool and chill until ready to serve. If you place all of the pudding in a single bowl, whisk vigorously to smooth before serving. Serve with softly whipped , unsweetened cream.