Comfort food, nursery pudding, grown-up bliss. This butterscotch pudding is all three and more. Want to turn it into a pie? Bake an 8-inch chocolate cookie crumb crust. Pour all the cooled pudding into the crust and top with a cloud of whipped cream. Or, if you want to be oh-so-trendy, sprinkle portions with a few flakes of Maldon salt.
3 cups whole milk, divided
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch, spooned lightly into a measuring cup (do not pack)
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter,cut into pieces
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Whipped cream flavored with vanilla extract, for serving (optional)
Rinse a heavy nonreactive saucepan with cold water and shake out the excess water (this helps prevent the milk from scorching). Bring 2 cups of the milk nearly to a boil. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining cup milk, the egg yolks, brown sugar, and cornstarch until smooth.
Pour about cup of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture and whisk vigorously. Repeat the process 2 more times. Pour the warmed yolk mixture into the pan of hot milk and bring to a boil, whisking over medium heat. (I like to switch to a rubber spatula to keep the pudding from sticking.) Boil, stirring constantly (be sure to stir at the edges of the pan), for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
Strain the pudding through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Transfer the pudding to 4 individual serving dishes, preferably glass sundae dishes. If you want to prevent a pudding “skin” from forming, lay a circle of wax paper directly on the surface of the pudding. Chill for 2 to 3 hours. Serve topped with vanilla-flavored whipped cream, if you like.
Yield: 4 servings
Source: Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000)
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