Weeknight Cooking: Butterscotch Pudding

For the past month, I’ve been interested in the concept of the after dinner dessert. Because desserts can take up copious amounts of time and, lover that I am of quicker weeknight meals, I’ve avoided them. Desserts in my house have typically consisted of low fat ice cream on a stick (mmm, Skinny Cow Mini Mint Dippers). Though lately, it just hasn’t been enough. I’ve been wanting something more.

Butterscotch Pudding - courtesy of Gourmet

Maybe it was the milk chocolate desserts I explored from last month’s MoM, or maybe I just wanted something tasty, I can’t say for sure. But when I stumbled upon a quick and easy butterscotch pudding recipe that called for things I already had on hand, I rushed right home and whipped it up.

Because I was only serving two, I cut the recipe in half. I also only had to dirty one pot to make it and, on a weeknight, that suits me just fine. The custard finished after about 15 minutes and was in my ramekins and in the refrigerator, chilling out while I finished up dinner.

Butterscotch Pudding
Courtesy of Gourmet

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

It’s another one that’s fairly straightforward, leaving the guesswork out for even the most novice cook.

Whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a heavy medium saucepan, then whisk in milk and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently, then boil, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl, then cover surface with buttered wax paper and chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours.

Butterscotch Pudding - Brown Sugar & Cornstarch

Making fresh desserts on a weeknight doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to cut corners. Other things have to be taken into consideration, like the time and effort it takes to clean up. If I only need to scrub down one pot when it’s over, I will lean toward that recipe on a weeknight.

Butterscotch Pudding - Whisking Milk & Cream

This step is actually where I went slightly wrong. I had my back turned for a couple of minutes and when I came back, it had started to thicken and collect in the bottom of the pan. Without thinking, I started scraping it off of the bottom with my whisk. This resulted in small little beads (reminiscent of tapioca) throughout. What I should have done was continue to whisk without scraping the bottom.

Well, what I should have done was to not be a moron and leave the kitchen, but it was too late for that. And by that time I wasn’t going to toss the whole thing and start over because it smelled way too good.

Once it’s thickened, add in the butter and vanilla.

Butterscotch Pudding - Vanilla & Butter

The butter and vanilla give it the glossy texture and add all kinds of magic to the end result. (It’s butter and vanilla, do I really need to explain what they do?? They’re like the Starsky and Hutch of baking ingredients!)

Butterscotch Pudding - Final

Keeping in mind that I halved this recipe, when it was finished I poured them into two small, 4 ounce ramekins. They sat in the refrigerator for about an hour or so to chill, then we had them for dessert.

Despite my user error on letting some of the custard coagulate at the bottom of the pan, I am going to give this recipe a B+ on the dessert scale and an A- on the weeknight cooking scale. Definitely worth it, especially for a weeknight. It’s quick if you want to whip it together right before you start cooking up dinner, that way it can chill while you’re cooking. It’s also economical due to the fact that the ingredients it calls for are common, most people would have these things on hand as I did, and also because there are so few ingredients, unlike other recipes.

Something else in its favor is something I pointed out earlier, and that’s the amount of dishes and utensils it takes to make it. When you’re done, clean up is very simple because you’re only having to rinse down one pot, a few measuring spoons and a cup. The B+ is because this is pretty much what you’d expect — it’s a butterscotch pudding. That’s not a bad thing, because butterscotch lovers will be absolutely satisfied. However, and I know I’m nitpicking here, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that would make me say, “Wow, that was so great that I’m going to make this a million times.” It was certainly delicious and definitely satisfying and I would recommend it, but I didn’t love it as much as I loved the Warm Double Chocolate Brownie Cakes.

Still, I would recommend this to anyone looking for a little something spiffy to serve up on a weeknight.

Weeknight Cooking Grade: A-
Overall Dessert Grade: B+

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