Butterscotch Pudding for Grown-ups

By Diane Rossen Worthington | January 10th, 2024

A comforting childhood favorite with an adults-only twist

butterscotch pudding for grown-ups, with the addition of Scotch or bourbon whiskey to make it an adults-only dessert.

What is more comforting than a cup of sweet, smooth pudding? I love them all: vanilla, chocolate, mocha and even mango.

This creamy concoction of deliciousness is my vote for a winter dessert. This interpretation requires the cook to make a caramel sauce first and then blend it in with classic pudding ingredients.

Butterscotch requires brown sugar rather than white. Cornstarch is the thickening agent here, while egg yolks and butter offer a rich texture and flavor. Use a good-quality vanilla extract like Madagascar or Tahitian here to round out the caramel butterscotch taste.

This grown-up version of the ultimate comfort dessert is just right for serving in front of a cozy fire. Based on an idea from Portland’s celebrated Wildwood restaurant, the touch of Scotch whisky gives the pudding some punch and makes it adults only. You could also add bourbon instead if you prefer that flavor. I like to serve this in old-fashioned parfait glasses.

Butterscotch Pudding

Makes 8 servings


For the caramel:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream

For the pudding:

  • 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons Scotch whisky
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped toffee (Skor is good)

Garnish, optional:

  • Whipped cream


Make the caramel:

  1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium heavy saucepan. Do not use a dark colored pan, or you will not be able to see the color of the caramel.
  2. Dissolve the sugar in water over low heat. Turn up the heat and continually swirl the pan over the flame. The mixture will be bubbly. If sugar crystals form on the sides of the pan, cover it for 1 minute to dissolve them.
  3. Boil the mixture until it turns a dark golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully, as the caramel can burn easily; and if it is too dark it will continue to cook and taste burnt.
  4. Remove the caramel from the heat and let it cool, making sure it is still liquid.
  5. Return the caramel sauce to low heat and stir in the cream and constantly stir to create a caramel sauce. The mixture may look separated, but continue to whisk it and it will become smooth in a few minutes. Cool.

Make the pudding:

  1. In a heavy medium saucepan combine the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the milk and place on medium heat. Stir for about 5 to 6 minutes or until the mixture becomes very thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the caramel sauce.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks together and then slowly add the caramel mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour back into the saucepan and gently heat the mixture until it easily coats the back of a spoon. Add the butter, scotch and vanilla and mix to combine.
  3. Pour the pudding into individual glass dessert bowls and sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup of the chopped toffee. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
  4. Just before serving, garnish each pudding with a dollop of whipped cream, if using, and a sprinkling of the remaining chopped toffee.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple: Easy Recipes for Creative Cooks” and “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.

© 2024 Diane Rossen Worthington. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Another childhood favorite, created from scratch: DIY Vanilla Wafers

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