Kick Butt-erscotch Pudding

February 24, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

I have to admit, butterscotch is not my favorite pudding flavor, but I am absolutely not letting this contest close without a single plain old, old-fashioned butterscotch recipe! Butterscotch, as far as I can tell, relies on the wonder that is the flavor of dark brown sugar. This recipe, tweaked from an old recipe card from a neighbor with inspiration from David Lebovitz, is incredibly simple and fast - it doesn't even require tempering egg yolks. And while usually I feel strongly that pudding should have egg, the butterscotch flavor is rich enough, it doesn't really need it. - fiveandspice —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: fiveandspice is a fierce home cook, hostess, and food blogger.
WHAT: A butterscotch pudding that lives up to its name.
HOW: Butter, sugar, salt, cream, cornstarch, milk, vanilla. On the stove. That's it -- no egg-tempering necessary.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This is definitely an adult butterscotch pudding -- toasty dark brown sugar, sea salt, and (optional) booze balance out the traditional sweetness. Note: If you want to have leftovers, make sure to divide up the pudding into 4-6 small bowls or ramekins. Placing one big bowl of this stuff in the fridge is simply too tempting. —Food52

  • Serves 4
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey or dark rum (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the sugar and salt and stir to combine well. Whisk in the heavy cream and turn the heat to low.
  2. Put the cornstarch in a small bowl, whisk in the milk bit by bit, until the cornstarch is totally dissolved. Stir this into the saucepan, then turn the heat back up to medium and let the mixture come to a simmer, stirring all the while. Simmer (keep stirring) for about a minute, until the pudding has thickened enough that your stirring utensil leaves a thick trail. Remove from the heat and stir in the last Tbs. butter, the vanilla, and the whiskey/rum.
  3. If the pudding seems lumpy, press it through a fine strainer. Pour it into a bowl, press plastic wrap directly onto the pudding if you wish to avoid a skin forming. Chill for at least several hours before serving. Serve topped with lightly sweetened softly whipped cream.
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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.