15 December 2017
For me, butterscotch is one of those flavours I have to have at least once every quarter - just to remind myself of the joys of the occasional bit of indulgence. Whenever I have it, I’m always amazed that it’s been so long since I last had it. Not that it’s something you should have too often - but even so.
True butterscotch is brown sugar and butter which is boiled until the sugar reaches the soft crack stage, which means that it has reached between 132ºC and 143ºC (if you go higher than that you get toffee). But, although some people will cook it, for butterscotch pudding it’s really sufficient that you have the brown sugar and the butter together in the dessert. It all depends on whether you like the drama of cooking sugar to a high temperate or not.
I got 200g of dark brown molasses sugar. I’d had some in the cupboard for an extraordinarily long time - so I suppose nobody could accuse me of over-indulging in the making of butterscotch. Then melted 2 tablespoons or so of unsalted butter and mixed the butter and the sugar together. The butter will dampen but not dissolve the sugar.
For this version, I used 450ml whole milk. Take a little of the milk and put it into a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and mix it together to form a smooth paste. Then add 3 egg yolks and mix those in as well. Put the milk into a saucepan and scrape in the cornflour / egg mixture. Bring the milk to a gentle boil and cook for a few minutes until it becomes a thick custard. Once it’s nice and thick, pour the hot custard over the butterscotch base and whisk together until the sugar has all dissolved. Add a teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract and whisk it in.
And you’re done. Pour it into separate serving bowls (or one big bowl if you’re going to spoon it into serving bowls at the table) and refrigerate overnight or for up to three days.
Most people when serving whisk up some double cream to put on top with a sprinkle of brown sugar or chocolate - and who am I to argue with such a noble tradition?
You might want to consider portion size. I filled two bowls quite full, but really in this day and age of portion control it could easily have gone to four, and probably should have.
Food waste notes: Of course, if you use three egg yolks, you’re going to have left over three egg whites. You can save these in a sealed container for a week. Use them to make a meringue, or a soufflé (I’m working on my soufflé technique, so that’s where mine will be going). If all else fails, and if you’re cooking for two, add a couple more whole eggs and use them for a pale omelette. Mix in some good mixed herbs and some cheese - nobody will suggest it’s deficient in any way.