Monday, August 6, 2012

Butterscotch Puddin' Pie

Mr. S has very few weaknesses. He's not afraid of bugs or snakes, he can complete complicated math equations, and he's in pretty good physical shape - no weak ankles or anything.


Put butterscotch pudding in front of the man and he's on his knees. He'll do anything. Climb any mountain, swim any sea, wash any amount of dishes....

And the smile on his face? Priceless. He turns into a giddy 5 year old.

Needless to say - I enjoy this immensely. 

And when I told him that you could put his beloved butterscotch pudding into a pie shell? Well, I think I may have blown a fuse in his brain. The smile that went from ear to ear was almost scary. 

He then told me my new nickname was "Puddin' " and that that was about the highest honor possible to have in his book.

Looks like this pie is going to have to go into the rotation permanently.

There are many butterscotch pudding recipes out there. Our typical go-to is an adaptation of Mark Bittman's vanilla pudding recipe. Use dark brown sugar instead of white (or just add a tablespoon or two of molasses). It involves cornstarch as the thickener, and doesn't use any alcohol. It's really easy and really good. You are free to use that one. 

But sometimes you feel like being fancy. Taking more steps and using trickier ingredients.

This is the trickier recipe. It's good, but I wouldn't say it's too much better than the Bittman one. Just makes you feel snootier since it involves tempering eggs. I always feel like a real cook when I temper eggs. 

So here goes - buy or make pie crust. I use Smitten Kitchen's recipe. 

I wanted to make individual pies (so Mr. S wouldn't be tempted to eat a whole 9" pie). 
Bake them off in the oven till golden - 20 minutes or so. I used pie weights so the crust wouldn't bubble too badly.

While the pie crust bakes, make the pudding. 

Did you know you can make your own brown sugar? Combine white sugar and molasses. It totally works. 
In a small saucepan, cook the butter and brown sugar over low heat till it starts bubbling.

Add the scotch (or bourbon). It will probably bubble like crazy for a minute or so. Keep whisking. 

Add in the heavy cream. Stir it in and remove from heat.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg, and cornstarch until all the lumps are gone.

In a large saucepan, bring the milk and salt to a simmer. Use a 1 cup measuring up to pour a thin stream of the simmering milk into your bowl with the eggs in it, whisking frantically as you add the milk.

Congrats! You're tempering your eggs! Whisk in 1 more cup of the still-simmering milk to the eggs. Seriously. Keep that whisk moving!

Now pour that egg & milk mixture back into the pan with the milk in it. While whisking. Keep whisking!!

That should start to thicken in about a minute. Once the mixture gets kinda thick, whisk in the butterscotch & bourbon mixture.

Whisk occasionally for the next few minutes. Once the pot starts to bubble, whisk for 3 minutes or so, then remove from the heat.

By this point, your pie crust should be out of the oven and cooling.

Pour the pudding into the shells.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours. At least 3 if you're making a big pie.
Serve with whipped cream.

Butterscotch Puddin' Pie
Adapted from Serious Eats
Makes one 9" pie or at least four 4" mini pies

Pie crust - bought or made
6 tbsp butter
2 c. white sugar
2 1/2 tbsp molasses
3 tbsp scotch (or whiskey, or bourbon - all are pretty similar)
1 c. heavy cream
3 c. milk
1/2 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
1 egg
1/4 c. cornstarch
whipped cream for topping

Bake off your pie crust until golden brown, around 20 minutes. Use pie weights to keep it from bubbling. 

In a small bowl, combine the white sugar and molasses with a fork until mixed well. It takes a minute or two of stirring. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add in the brown sugar you just made. Cook on low/medium low until it starts to bubble. Add in the scotch. It will bubble and hiss. Whisk through it. Gently add in the heavy cream and whisk until combined. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks, egg, and corn starch until smooth.

Heat up the milk and salt in a large saucepan until simmering. Use a 1 c. liquid measuring cup to drizzle some of the hot milk into the eggs, while whisking like crazy. Keep whisking. You're whisking so the egg doesn't cook and become scrambled eggs. Drizzle in another cup of simmering milk, whisking the entire time. 

Now, pour your tempered eggs into the large saucepan with the simmering milk - whisk that while you pour too. You can see why this tempering business frightens people. But you just have to whisk furiously for a few minutes. It's as simple as that.

The egg and milk mixture should thicken up pretty quickly. Once it thickens, add the butterscotch mixture. Bring to bubbling and cook for 3 more minutes, whisking as you go.

Pour the pudding into shells (and the leftover pudding into a bowl for snacking later). Cover immediately with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours. 

Serve with whipped cream.

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