The Ultimate Butterscotch Pudding

This creamy pudding is comfort food at its best. To capture the buttery caramelized sugar flavor that characterizes butterscotch, I reduce dark brown sugar and water to a sticky paste for the base flavor, and finish the pudding with a good amount of butter and salt, along with vanilla paste and a touch of bourbon. Passing the pudding through a fine-mesh sieve is not entirely necessary, but it does ensure that the pudding with be ultra-smooth.

Makes 4 servings


Butterscotch Pudding

  • 3/4 cup (162 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) water
  • ¼ plus 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups (348 grams) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (242 grams) whole milk
  • 4 large (74 grams) egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) bourbon
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for serving
  • Thin shards of Heath Bar or Skor


  1. In a medium saucepan, stir together the brown sugar, water and salt and cook over medium heat, gently stirring occasionally and letting the mixture boil and bubble until wisps of smoke begin to rise up and the sugar mixture is thick and sticky. This should take 4 to 6 minutes.
  1. Meanwhile, combine the cream and milk in a Pyrex glass measuring cup and microwave on high until hot, about 3 minutes. Once the caramel is done, remove the pan from the heat and very slowly add the hot cream mixture to the pan, stirring constantly until blended. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, continuing to stir to make sure every bit of the caramelized sugar syrup is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch. Whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot caramel mixture into the yolk mixture. Whisk the yolk mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Continue to cook, whisking, for 1 minute, to activate the cornstarch. Remove the pan from the heat. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and pass the pudding through the sieve, scraping the sieve with a silicone spatula to get every bit of pudding through. Add the butter cubes to the pudding and whisk well until the pudding is smooth and emulsified. Whisk in the vanilla and bourbon. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  1. Divide the pudding among 4 serving glasses. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming (unless you, like my husband, think the skin is the best part). Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight, until well chilled. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a few shards of Heath or Skor bar.

Recommended Equipment:

KitchenAid KE060OHOBA Classic Utility Whisk


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Tish Boyle
Tish Boylehttps://pastryathome.com
Tish Boyle is the Managing Editor of Pastry Arts Magazine, a food writer and cookbook author with expertise in baking, desserts and chocolate. A graduate of Smith College and La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine, Tish has written several dessert and baking books including Chocolate Passion, Diner Desserts, The Good Cookie, The Cake Book and Flavorful. Co-writing credits include Payard Desserts and the Grand Finales series of books.

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