When I was a kid, I never really had butterscotch pudding. I liked vanilla and chocolate puddings and often campaigned to see pudding cups in the fridge or in my lunch. Butterscotch puddings seemed overly sweet, even to me, when I had them so it just wasn’t a go-to flavor for me. That said, the first time I had homemade butterscotch pudding, I was a convert. Silky smooth and not too sweet in spite of its rich brown sugar flavor, homemade butterscotch pudding had me hooked from the first bite.
This is my version of Classic Butterscotch Pudding, a recipe I’ve been making in one form or another for years now. It gets its butterscotch flavor from dark brown sugar and a small amount of butter that is added to it. There isn’t enough butter to make the pudding taste buttery, but there is enough to ensure a clear butterscotch flavor. The finished pudding is not too sweet and it has a very good balance of brown sugar, dairy and vanilla that makes it quite addictive. Fortunately, since the pudding is neither too sweet nor too heavy, there is nothing wrong with giving into the addiction and having a second serving. Dark brown sugar is going to give you the best finished product and the richest butterscotch flavor. That said, golden brown sugar and even light brown sugar will still work well and produce a tasty pudding.
I also really like the consistency of this pudding. It is not too thick and not too thin, but a silky smooth medium somewhere in between. If you do like your pudding on the thicker side, add an extra 1/2 tbsp cornstarch to thicken it up a bit more. When I make pudding, I’ll use any kind of milk I have in the fridge, whether it is whole or skim milk. Whole milk will always make a slightly richer pudding, but skim milk will actually work out just fine if that is all you have. I recommend using whole milk or at least reduced fat for a pudding that has the best balance and as creamy a texture as possible.
Classic Butterscotch Pudding
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups milk, divided (pref. whole or reduced fat)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir well, until brown sugar is well moistened.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the milk, egg, egg yolk and cornstarch until very smooth. Whisk in remaining milk, and then slowly pour the mixture into the butter and brown sugar, stirring constantly.
Cook, stirring with a spatula and taking care to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan, until sugar is dissolved and mixture just comes to a simmer and begins to bubble. Continue to cook, still stirring, for 1-2 minutes as pudding thickens.
Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract.
Divide pudding into 4 individual serving dishes or ramekins.
If you want a pudding skin, leave pudding uncovered. If you do not want skin, press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of each serving of pudding.
Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, until pudding is cold.