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super weekend

Recipe: butterscotch and milk chocolate puddings

Were any of you able to catch the full moon this past weekend? Since the moon was at perigee (closest approach to Earth) for 2012, it appeared 14% larger and 30% brighter than typical full moons. Everyone was saying it would be a “supermoon”. For us, it certainly was if only for the fact that clouds were building all day, sitting like a giant cap on top of our region. Sheer luck and strategic planning gave us a tiny window from the horizon of the Great Plains to the base of the cloud deck. For all of ten minutes we were able to witness and capture something beautiful.


As the moon disappeared into the clouds, I looked up from the camera and shouted, “I love it here!” We have good skies, clean air, quiet mountain roads, and a topography of mountains, foothills, and canyons that dramatically abuts a flat, expansive plain. The storm eventually committed itself on Sunday and brought a shower of wet, heavy snow upon us. Moisture is welcome now, in any form.

kaweah wanted to check out the snow

It was most definitely a super weekend – super moon, super snow, and I recreated a lovely treat I’ve enjoyed from Pizzeria Locale in Boulder (part of the grand Frasca dominion).

call it super pudding

Last month, I was on assignment to shoot a fun annual event in downtown Boulder – Taste of Pearl. Local restaurants, Colorado wineries, and shops on Pearl Street triple up to create 15 tasting stations for attendees to sample and peruse and mingle. It’s festive and lively. People get friendlier and friendlier as the afternoon progresses, I’m guessing because of the wine! As I was working, I didn’t eat or drink until the end. The fellas at Pizzeria Locale were handing out cute little cups of their butterscotch pudding. If you said “butterscotch pudding” to me in the past, I would have politely declined. After having sampled this butterscotch pudding twice (first time at the restaurant, second time at this shoot), I was SOLD. But you know me… something this good needs to be tested at Butter Headquarters.

vanilla, bourbon, milk, eggs, brown sugar, butter, salt, cornstarch

mix melted butter with the brown sugar and salt

I don’t develop recipes. I just don’t. That kind of activity makes me crazy and cranky. I seek out good recipes from trusted sources and proceed to test them out. After searching my library and looking online, I settled on David Lebovitz’ butterscotch pudding, because he puts BOOZE in his pudding. Whiskey, to be specific. I went to my wine and booze adviser (Jason at Boulder Wine and Spirits – he is the best) and grilled him about whiskeys. What is whiskey? Can I use bourbon instead of whiskey? What the heck is scotch? Jason deserves a batch of cookies just for putting up with me. In the end, I decided to save myself $30 and use the bourbon I already had.

whisk milk and cornstarch

whisk in eggs

stir milk into the brown sugar mixture

Truth? I’ve never made pudding from scratch before unless you are talking about sticky toffee pudding, which is another beast entirely. I probably stopped making the occasional instant pudding back in college. Pudding isn’t really my thing, see. But this… this is the stuff of addiction, obsession.

whisk cornstarch mixture into the pudding

don’t forget the booze!

divvy up among random cups and glasses

Making pudding is crazy easy as long as you have a whisk and keep an eye on not letting things burn or curdle. The process is similar to custards, but more forgiving, in my opinion. Because I wanted to make the pudding similar to the way they serve it at Pizzeria Locale, I had to have a thin layer of milk chocolate pudding on top of the butterscotch pudding. You might think that omitting this would save you a step, and it would, but you would have an inferior pudding. Make the milk chocolate pudding, and for crying out loud, get GOOD milk chocolate or just go home.

vanilla, sugar, milk, cream, cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, good milk chocolate

whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt together

I am not a fan of milk chocolate, but there are some things that are elevated to the status of “heavenly” when paired with milk chocolate. Take passionfruit caramel for instance, or this butterscotch pudding. You don’t need a lot, but a little will accent the dessert nicely. I used Chocolove’s milk chocolate with its hints of malt and caramel, that melts smooth and clean on the tongue. You only need half of the milk chocolate pudding recipe given below, but I doubt anyone would object to a couple of extra milk chocolate puddings hanging about their refrigerator.

whisk in the milk

adding chopped milk chocolate

stir in the vanilla

Give the butterscotch puddings time to set before you layer the milk chocolate pudding so you don’t get any infiltration of one into the other (although I doubt anyone would be upset about it). That means making the chocolate pudding right as the butterscotch layers have more or less stabilized. Pouring the warm pudding over the first layer makes it easier to have an even second layer. Chill the puddings until the chocolate layers have set. Right before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks and pipe or plop it on the puddings.

you just need a few spoonfuls, then refrigerate the puddings

piping whipped cream

Shave some of that good milk chocolate on top and you have yourself a pretty delightful little treat. This is a rich dessert, so I prefer the smaller serving vessels because they look cute and won’t make people go blind when they finish it.

a small indulgence

super butterscotch pudding!

Butterscotch and Milk Chocolate Puddings
[print recipe]
butterscotch pudding from David Lebovitz and milk chocolate pudding from Bon Appétit

butterscotch pudding (see below)
1/2 milk chocolate pudding recipe (see below)
whipped cream (see below)
shaved milk chocolate for garnish

butterscotch pudding
4 tbsps (60g) butter, salted or unsalted (I use unsalted)
1 cup (180g) packed dark brown
3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
3 tbsps cornstarch
2 1/2 (625ml) cups whole milk
2 large eggs
2 tsps whiskey (I used Bourbon)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, stir in the dark brown sugar and salt until the sugar is evenly moistened. Remove the pan from the heat. In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch and 1/4 cup (60ml) of the whole milk together until there are no more clumps of cornstarch. Whisk in the eggs. Pour the remaining 2 1/4 cups of milk into the pan with the brown sugar, whisking constantly to mix it well. Whisk the cornstarch mixture in and set the saucepan over high heat. Whisk the pudding mixture frequently until it begins to boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer, whisking continuously for a minute. The pudding should have the consistency of hot fudge sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the whiskey (or bourbon as I used) and vanilla extract. David notes that if the pudding has curdled a bit, you can blender it to smooth it out – just take precautions if putting it in a blender because hot liquids more than half full in the vessel can be disastrous and potentially dangerous (explosive comes to mind). He suggests doing it in two smaller batches and draping a towel over the lid of the blender if necessary. Pour the pudding into serving glasses (4-6 standard cups or several small shot glasses) and chill for at least four hours before serving.

milk chocolate pudding
6 tbsps sugar
2 tbsps cornstarch
2 tbsps unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt together in a medium to large saucepan. Slowly whisk the milk into the saucepan and then whisk the cream in. Set the pan over medium heat and whisk until the contents befing to boil. Continue to boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly, until the pudding becomes thick. Stir in the milk chocolate and let it return to a boil. Whisk the pudding often for 1-2 minutes more until it is thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let the pudding cool for a few minutes before spooning into vessels. Chill at least 2 hours. Makes 4-6 servings.

whipped cream
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Place the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a clean bowl and whip on high until soft peaks form.

Assemble the puddings: Make the butterscotch pudding FIRST (see above). When the pudding is still warm, pour it into serving glasses or shot glasses about two-thirds full. If you are worried about keeping the sides of the glasses clean, pour it through a funnel. Chill the butterscotch puddings for 2-3 hours or until they are relatively well-set. Make the milk chocolate pudding (see above) when the butterscotch puddings are nearly set. When the milk chocolate pudding has cooled for a few minutes after stirring in the vanilla extract, spoon a little layer on top of each butterscotch pudding (or spoon a lot if that’s what you like). Chill the puddings (uncovered) in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours before serving. Right before serving, whip the whipped cream to soft peaks (i.e. don’t overbeat the cream). Spoon or pipe (using a pastry bag) the whipped cream on top of each pudding. Shave or grate milk chocolate on top and serve. Makes 4-6 standard servings or 12-24 smaller (shot glass) servings.

24 nibbles at “super weekend”

  1. Kitt says:

    I might go blind just from reading about it, Jen! That’s one sinful dessert.

  2. Emma says:

    Found this on Punch Fork where it was featured at the top. Looks delicious!

  3. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    This pudding looks fabulous! It’s so pretty and creative!

  4. Kristin says:

    You had me at bourbon. And I’m not a milk chocolate fan either, but I will take your word on this. Now please don’t leave us hanging….what IS Scotch? I know (or think I know) that bourbon is American whiskey (which is what Scots call it). But Scotch has me flummoxed.

  5. Magda says:

    What a beautiful photograph that first one.

    You got me going crazy over that pudding now. It looks truly amazing!!

  6. Lisa Mai says:

    Oh my goodness. Your pictures are beautiful! I almost want to make that immediately. I don’t really like the taste of alcohol in desserts though, would it still be good without it?

  7. Winnie says:

    Oh lordy. I’d give anything for one of these lovely puddings right now. Awesome shot of the supermoon, too!

  8. Theresa says:

    I am trying to lick my screen.

  9. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    And now I’m hungry. Beautiful photos!

  10. Nico says:

    Ooh that shot of you piping the whipped cream is so perfect. This looks awesome.

  11. Amy says:

    Hi, found you through foodgawker…and I had to write and say thanks for this recipe and the fact that it´s totally from scratch. I am American but live in Norway and have for the last 17 years…you can´t buy instant pudding in stores here and the pudding they do sell is disgusting. They also have no idea what butterscotch is….can you imagine??? Ugh…so this is definitely on my list of recipes to try….I´ll just have to postpone my diet until next week….(unless something good comes along I have to try next week…)

    Have a great day! Amy @ Eventyrhus in Norway

  12. Dana says:

    I’m feeling a little emotional. Not about that incredible photo of the moon, although that sure was nice. I think this little piece of dessert heaven might be the most delicious looking thing I have ever seen. No joke.

  13. JulieT says:

    I think I’m in love (and I don’t just mean David Lebovitz-who I also think I’m in love with)

  14. Melissa says:

    the pudding at locale is amazing (tried four times over)…and i am a life-long lover of butterscotch. but the butterscotch pot de creme at terroir should without doubt be tried! despite the fact that there isn’t a milk chocolate layer, the decadent pudding is topped with salted caramel…DIVINE!! take the trip to east boulder county and i believe you may be delightfully surprised by this sinfully delicious dessert. and, btw, amazing photo of the saturday night moon

  15. pumpkin says:

    OMG, it looks fabulous. I was going to try Nancy Silverton’s butterscotch budino recipe to see if it was similar to the locale dessert. It. Is. So. Good., and when they first opened it had caramel on top, similar to Silverton’s: Like the version w/the milk chocolate better, tho.

  16. Gio of The Hungry Giant says:

    Hi! I’ve been subscribing your posts for a while now, and I’m always looking forward to what you’re going to write about next! This pudding sounds amazing, I think I might have had a heart attack reading this. (haha!)

  17. Jill says:

    YumYumYum. That moon shot was awesome! Thanks for sharing everything.

  18. Ellen says:

    @Kristin, my limited knowledge of Bourbon vs Scotch (2 different styles of whiskey)

    Bourbon – 51% corn minimum, must be aged in new charred oak barrels (you can’t reuse and call it bourbon). Must be made in USA. Something like 90%+ of bourbon is made in Kentucky.

    Scotch – typically malted barley, but you can use other grains, and you can age it in any oak barrel.

    For me, the primary difference: I love bourbon. I think most Scotch tastes like feet (single-malt, at least).

    Other people who know more than me, chime in! I’m off to my liquor cabinet to locate the Pappy Van Winkle.

  19. Margie says:

    Oh my goodness…glorious pudding, and butterscotch to boot. That chocolate layer sends it over the top!

  20. tanja says:

    Wow!that is an amazing photo of the moon. It was breathtaking to see from this part of the world too (I live in Greece), especially when it was over the sea, early in the morning. I will definetely put this recipe in my to-do list. Thanx!

  21. Kristin says:

    @Ellen…feet?! Thank you. I will stick to bourbon.

  22. jenyu says:

    Kitt – indeed it is!

    Emma – thank you :)

    Katrina – it’s deeelish too. Not good for the ass reduction plan.

    Kristin – I don’t know what anything is, but Ellen left a good explanation.

    Magda – thanks.

    Lisa Mai – I’m sure it would be fine, but I think the alcohol gives it a nice added dimension and you can’t really tell it’s alcohol.

    Winnie – :)

    Theresa – ha!!

    Eva – thank you.

    Nico – thanks!

    Amy – wow, I had no idea this would be so hard to find in Norway of all places? I hope you can enjoy your pudding now :)

    Dana – hee hee, you are so cute! xo

    JulieT – xo

    Melissa – I’ll keep it in mind, thanks!

    pumpkin – mmm, caramel? :)

    Gio – thank you, but please don’t have a heart attack! ;)

    Jill – thanks, sweetie xo

    Ellen – ah, I love you girl.

    Margie – it’s all good.

    tanja – thank you.

  23. Katherine says:

    Hello! I just wanted to say a huge thank you for this recipe – I just made the butterscotch part as part of a trio of puddings for Christmas Day and it is DELICIOUS!

  24. Janet says:

    You probably saw this, but a few months after you published this, the NY Times published the recipe for the budino from Boulder… I guess it really is that good. Anyway, I thought you might be interested to see how it differs from your interpretation. Here is the link:
    They use cream instead of milk, no booze, and top it with milk chocolate ganache instead of pudding. Decadence all around.

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