Pudding is the ultimate creamy, homey comfort food and you can’t get any more comforting than homemade butterscotch pudding. So put that mix back on the shelf because it’s time to make from scratch. So good, so creamy, and so easy!
Butterscotch has always been a flavor which is near and dear to my heart! Basically, it’s is an easier and simpler caramel sauce with all the great flavor and even more butteriness. (Since it’s, you know…butterscotch. 😉 )
I can make a great caramel sauce, but I always seem to come back to butterscotch.
So, when I bought these adorable little retro cups, my first thought of what to make in them was an old fashioned pudding. It just seemed perfect! And then I made it and we ate it and was perfect. Cue me scribbling down the recipe and then making it again, getting another round of thumbs up, and then making it again for photos.
It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.
What do you need?
- Brown Sugar – Butterscotch starts with brown sugar which makes things easier since it’s basically pre-caramelized.
- Butter – A few tablespoons.
- Egg Yolks/Cornstarch – Whisk these together for a thick and smooth sauce.
- Cream – I chose half and half but you can use milk or heavy cream.
- Seasoning – Vanilla and kosher salt.
- Toppings – Go wild! Chocolate, whipped cream, nuts, and so on.
How to make this
To make homemade butterscotch pudding cook brown sugar until caramelized then add butter, milk, and eggs. Simmer until thickened. Divide into cups and chill until set.
1. Caramelize the Sugar
Though brown sugar already has a lot of caramel flavors, you want to deepen those flavors since you will be mixing the sauce with a fair amount of milk. To caramelize the brown sugar, melt it in some water and boil it for several minutes without stirring until the sugar is dark brown and smells like caramel.
2. Add Butter + Half & Half
Since this is butterscotch pudding, you want to add some butter! It’s best to add it at this point (after your brown sugar has caramelized) then earlier because you don’t want the butter to burn. Stir it in and get it melted.
Now add the warmed half and half. A little at first then the rest. I didn’t find that that caramel boiled up when I did this, but yours might so be careful.
Note: Why warm the milk when making caramel? To reduce the amount of bubbling you get when the milk is poured in. It is the difference in temperature which causes the bubbles.
The first thing you do to the eggs is to whisk them with the cornstarch. Make sure they are nice and smooth since any lumps here will translate to the final product.
Next you are going to slowly pour some of the sauce into the eggs while whisking vigorously. This will gently heat the eggs and keep them smooth. If you need to, get someone else to help. One pours and the other holds the bowl and whisks.
Note: Why use cornstarch? Both for its thickening power and for scrambled egg insurance. Eggs mixed with cornstarch can be heated to a higher temperature before they begin to scramble.
Pour everything back into the saucepan and bring it to a slow simmer. You’ll see lazy bubbles coming up. Keep whisking as it thickens. This will take a minute or two.
Pour the finished pudding into small cups, cover with plastic wrap, and chill them until set. Or use one large container, keeping in mind that it will take longer to chill.
If you try my recipe for Homemade Butterscotch Pudding, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Old Fashioned Homemade Butterscotch Pudding
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 cups half and half
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- whipped cream
- chopped bittersweet chocolate
- bittersweet chocolate ganache
- candied pecans or walnuts
- Whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch. Set aside.
- Pour the half and half into a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Keep it warm on low until you need it.
- Combine the brown sugar, salt, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Boil the mixture, without stirring, until it is dark brown, 8-10 minutes.
- Whisk in the butter until combined.
- Pour in 1/2 cup of the half and half. Whisk to combine, then slowly add the rest. Whisk smooth while making sure to get the edges and corners of the saucepan.
- While whisking the eggs constantly, slowly drizzle about 1 cup of the butterscotch into the prepared egg yolks. Then, while whisking the butterscotch, pour the tempered egg mixture into the saucepan.
- Cook the pudding on medium heat while whisking constantly. The pudding will start to slowly bubble as it thickens. Let it bubble for 1 minute to fully activate the cornstarch. This should all take about 2 minutes.
- Off the heat, add the vanilla and stir in. Taste the pudding and add a pinch more salt if needed.
- Ladle the pudding into 6-8 small cups. Cover the cups with plastic wrap (let the wrap touch the surface of the pudding if you don't want it to form a skin).
- Refrigerate the pudding until firm, cold, and set. This will take 3-4 hours.
- Serve with whipped cream, chopped chocolate, chocolate ganache or other toppings of your choosing.
- Bittersweet chocolate ganache: Finely chop 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. Transfer the chocolate to a medium bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit 1 minute. The whisk briskly until the mixture is smooth (it may seem grainy at first - persevere). Let the ganache cool on the counter until it is thick but pourable.
- Milk: If you want to reduce the fat content (and calories), switch to whole milk from the half and half. The pudding will not be as beautifully creamy, but it will still be quite good.