I recently learned that quite a fair amount of people consider butterscotch and caramel to taste the same. I suppose this could be true, because I’ve got friends who claim they can’t tell the difference between butter and margarine (seriously?) and others who say that whipped topping tastes like real whipped cream to them. I don’t see how this is remotely possible, but there it is. The first time I had the whipped topping stuff I was not even in grade school yet – I took one bite and instantly knew it was so definitely not whipped cream. I mean, the two don’t even contain anything close to the same ingredients, and I’m not certain that some of the gunk that is in the whipped topping could really be considered edible. Chemical wax? Um, no thanks.
At least butterscotch and caramel share mostly the same stuff, the main difference being that butterscotch contains brown sugar, while caramel contains granulated sugar. Both are delicious, but while you can find caramel just about everywhere, and seemingly on everything, butterscotch is much more elusive. There should be more butterscotch in the world. Much more. So, in an attempt to even things out a bit, there is this bourbon butterscotch pudding.
Just slightly sweet, this is a very creamy, light, summer-weight pudding. It sets nicely, but doesn’t form much of the pudding “skin” on the top that delights some but horrifies others. If you want to cook off the small amount of alcohol in the tablespoon of bourbon, just whisk it in at the beginning with the milk instead of adding it in at the end with the vanilla extract.
Here, I’ve topped the puddings with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of grated dark chocolate, but they are equally good with, say, a drizzle of butterscotch sauce and a crumbled chocolate wafer cookie (or really, whatever your heart desires).
Except whipped topping.
Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding
Makes four servings. Adapted from Gourmet, here.
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split down the center and scraped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon bourbon
In a heavy medium saucepan, mix together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in milk, cream and vanilla bean and bits, and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently. Once mixture has begum to boil, reduce heat to medium low and whisk constantly for one minute. Remove from heat and add in butter, vanilla extract and bourbon – whisk until fully incorporated (about one minute.) Strain the pudding through a fine mesh sieve and discard vanilla bean pod. Transfer pudding to four serving containers, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 hours to chill and set.
Pudding will keep for up to five days, refrigerated.