Bourbon-Butterscotch Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Did you read the title? Then you should be salivating already. Being a dark chocolate lover, I have to remind myself that there are so many other desserts out there to try. My brother is good inspiration for this because he thinks much more outside the chocolate box than I do. He went to a restaurant in L.A. recently and mentioned that a hot item on their dessert menu was the Bourbon-Butterscotch Pudding. He had me at ‘dessert’, but really got my full attention and lips smacking at ‘pudding’.

Butterscotch is the bomb. Unless I’m mistaken, the only real difference between butterscotch and caramel is the use of brown and white sugar, respectively. But what a difference it makes! Brown sugar has that warm, deep flavor that I always love in the colder months. Butterscotch also reminds me of Scotland, which reminds me of plaid print patterns, which reminds me of Notre Dame, which reminds me of ND football games with my family. Good times.

I found an awesome recipe on a great little blog, ‘Cozy Kitchen’. It was just what I was looking for, and even included some tasty extras like whipped cream and salty peanuts. Not one to leave well enough alone, I followed CK’s lead and whipped myself some cream, roasted some nuts, and even melted some dark chocolate for a good measure drizzle.

I halved the recipe below so that things didn’t get too out of control at my apartment and it was just the right amount. Ith gu leòir!

Bourbon-Butterscotch Pudding with Caramel Sauce and Roasted Salted Peanuts

Image and Recipe adapted from ‘A Cozy Kitchen

4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 cup packed dark brown
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2½ cups whole milk
2 large eggs
3 teaspoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the dark brown sugar and salt, then stir until the sugar is well-moistened. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup of the milk until smooth (there should be no visible pills of cornstarch), then whisk in the eggs. Gradually pour the remaining milk into the melted brown sugar, whisking constantly, then whisk in the cornstarch mixture as well.

Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for one minute, whisking non-stop, until the pudding thickens to the consistency of hot fudge sauce. Remove from heat and stir in the bourbon and vanilla.

If slightly-curdled looking, blend in a blender or food processor. Or you can run it through a sieve. Pour into 4-6 serving glasses or custard cups, cover the pudding directly with plastic wrap (this will prevent the dreaded pudding ‘skin’), and chill thoroughly, at least four hours, before serving.

Caramel Sauce:

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature

In a medium pot, over medium high heat, cook the sugar and water until it turns a dark, deep caramel. Watch it the entire time. Do not walk away! It takes about 8 minutes. Add the butter cubes and stir.

Next, turn off the heat and pour in the heavy cream and whisk. The caramel shouldn’t seize up since it’s room temperature. If it does, simply turn the flame on medium and cook, whisking until smooth.

Toasted Salted Peanuts:
1 cup of peanuts
1 tablespoon of coarse Kosher salt

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Spread out peanuts onto a small baking sheet. Sprinkle them with kosher salt. And bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

To assemble:

Top each ramekin of cooled pudding with a few tablespoons of caramel sauce. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle on a few toasted salted peanuts.

Yields about 4-6 jars of pudding

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