Thanksgiving is just around the corner and when it comes to dessert the obvious choice is pumpkin pie. But what if you or your guests are not huge fans of the traditional offering?
For years my family dined at The Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, CA. When it was announced that they were transitioning to a more casual dining scene during the recession I panicked. Why? Because whenever we dined there we would consider dessert before ordering our main course. All because of the Butterscotch Pudding. Concerned that the revamped restaurant might change its dessert menu I took a chance and asked for the recipe. Low and behold they gave it to me.
This butterscotch pudding complements the Thanksgiving table; something without pumpkin spice but with all of the fall feels. It’s everything you would want in a holiday dessert; a velvety consistency, not too sweet and a beautiful hue of pale gold fitting with the season. And the great part about this decadent, creamy pudding is that it can be made ahead of time, adding freshly whipped cream at service.
The beauty of this recipe it that it uses butterscotch chips rather than having to make butterscotch from scratch. Using seeds from a vanilla bean may seem exotic but the flavor it adds to this pudding is key. Yes, vanilla beans are more costly than simply using vanilla extract but this is a holiday dessert after all and you deserves the best!
To extract the vanilla bean seeds, simply lay a pod on a flat surface. Using a sharp knife cut down the middle of the pod from top to bottom. Fold the halves open. Begin at one end of the pod and lightly scrape the knife’s edge down along the inside of the pod, lifting the seeds from the pod.
Quality is key!
This recipe calls for just 8 ingredients so now is not the time to compromise on quality. I used locally produced heavy whipping cream, farmers’ market eggs and Guittard butterscotch chips, shop your local farmers’ market and stores for the best available ingredients in your area. I guarantee this pudding will shine on your holiday table.
Just before serving, add a dollop of whipped cream. If you’re looking for a bit more dazzle, then a drizzle of homemade or store-bought caramel sauce, a dusting of ground cinnamon or chocolate shavings would dress it up.
If you’re looking for a last-minute appetizer for Turkey Day try this cranberry apple salsa!
- 1 3/4 quarts heavy whipping cream (preferably organic) plus 1/2 ounce heavy whipping cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- 12 ounces butterscotch chips (I use Guittard)
- 10 egg yolks, large
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 cup water
- 1/4 ounce Scotch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees
- Put 1 3/4 quarts of heavy cream and butterscotch chips into a large saucepan (I recommend using a pan about three times the volume of this mixture). Split open vanilla bean in half and scrape the inside of the bean from top to bottom, add the seeds to the cream. Bring all to a boil, turn off heat and set aside.(I recommend staying close to this mixture, it will take a while to heat up but once it does it comes to a boil very quickly).
- Place the egg yolks into a large bowl. Slowly add the above mixture only a few drops at a time in the beginning which tempers the egg yolk and avoids scrambling the eggs. Then proceed with a steady stream. Set aside
- Fill a kettle with water, place on stove and bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer.
- Mix the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan, place over low heat and let mixture caramelize stirring frequently about 5 minutes. Watching carefully so as not to burn. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the scotch and remaining 1/2 ounce heavy cream. Return to heat and stir until all is melted, thickened and darkened in color about 1 minute. Pour this into the cream and egg based mixture. Add salt and stir until dissolved.
- Using a mesh strainer, strain mixture into ovenproof ramekins (I found it easier to pour this mixture into a container with a spout, like a pyrex, and then into the ramekins). Depending on what size ramekins you use (I tested many and found that a wide and shallow dish similar to one that is typically used for creme brûlée, 8 ounces, is best) will determine how many will fit into a 9" X 13" baking pan (in this case it was 3, you can place two pans side by side in the oven to cook 6 at a time). They can be snug but with space around the surface of each ramekin. Place in oven but before closing door add the heated water into the pan making sure not to get any into the puddings. Fill until water reaches halfway up the ramekins. Bake at 250 degrees until puddings set. This should take about 60 minutes depending on size of ramekin. To test, if pudding jiggles just slightly but mostly firm, it's done. Using a hot mitt and spatula, remove ramekins from water bath onto a cooling rack. When cool, place in refrigerator until set, at least four hours or overnight. When serving, garnish with whipped cream.