31 July 2009

Pots de Creme and Butterscotch Pudding

En français ici.
Sometimes I say silly things, things I know I shouldn't, but I say them anyway. And whatever they tell you, there are some things you can't take back. For example, one day, when D. was eating a store bought dessert pudding thing (the kind that exist in rows and rows in French supermarkets), I made one such remark: "That would be easy to make." To make things worse, I followed it up with "and mine would be yummier, and have no preservatives."

[Quick American vocab break: Just for info, when I say 'pudding' I'm talking about a creamy dessert that comes in a little cup and is quivery - like custard, although I tend to think that when Americans say 'pudding', it's softer than custard. Is that my imagination? Does any one else have thoughts on the subject?]

So back to the part where I've spent the past week and half making nothing but puddings and custards to live up to my boasts. Not having much experience in that domain, I've been playing with basic recipes from Joy of Cooking, my go to book for this kind of thing. What can I say, I have a traditional streak. My first attempt was the best so far: butterscotch pudding, made with real butter and dark brown sugar and having a scrumptious taste close to a salty dulce de leche. I'm not a big pudding person, but I LOVE caramel and can't get enough of these.

Butterscotch Pudding
For 6 people

3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk
Heaping 1/4 tsp salt or a nice pinch of coarse sea salt

3 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp scotch or whisky (totally optional - it's delicious without it, but some hold that butterscotch should have some - other's say butter will do it. I leave it up to you.)

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter on low heat and whisk in the dark brown sugar. Cook stirring constantly until well-blended and bubbly (the bubbles will be tiny). Add the heavy cream little by little, while stirring, until butterscotch has melted. Add the milk and salt and stir until well-blended. Remove from heat and let cool until barely lukewarm.

In a small cup, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add to the butterscotch mixture and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken. Reduce heat to low (the mixture should be bubbling), and simmer 1 minute, whisking vigourously.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla (and scotch/whisky if using). Pour into 6 small cups and press saran wrap or aluminum foil on top if you want to keep a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Ok, so we're not talking diet food. We're talking sinfully yummy. And frighteningly easy to make.

The second recipe I tried, Vanilla Pots de Crème (a custard, not a pudding) was a bit more delicate. I've made numerous versions of my Chocolate Pots de Crèmes (with orange, with tea, with lavendar), which are much simpler. The vanilla ones have to be baked in a bain de marie, which I was worried about messing up, never having done it before. I didn't dare play much with this recipe, BUT they came out perfectly! Beginner's luck. They're a bit like a crème brûlée, but without the brûlée - actually, I guess that's exactly what they are.

Vanilla Pots de Crème
For 4 people

Preheat oven to 325F/170C
Whisk together:
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup white sugar

In a small saucepan, stirring, heat to a simmer:
1 cup whole milk

Gradually whisk the milk into the egg yolk and sugar. Strain into a bowl and skim off any foam. Stir in:
1/2 tsp vanilla

Pour into 4 pudding cups or ramekins. Cover with lids or aluminum foil to keep a skin from forming. Arrange in a baking dish large enough to hold all the cups without them touching. Put the pan in the oven and immediatly pour hot water (the hottest the tap will go is good) into the pan until it comes 2/3 of the way up of the sides of the cups. Bake about 40 minutes, until custard is set but still quivery when shaken. Take out of water bath and let cool 30 minutes. Refridgerate at least 2 hours before serving.

They're delicious, but luckily more complicated to make (means I'll make them less often), and missing some caramel in my humble opinion...


Sam said...

I really like the sound of these, definately my kind of dessert.

It's strange but in the UK pudding means anything sweet eaten after a meal, it could be cake, pie, ice cream even fruit.

Katharine said...

Mmm, butterscotch pudding, my favorite! Lucky, lucky D! Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

Ohmygod. I love butterscotch. And pudding. And now that you have reminded me of it, I am seriously considering running out to the store right now for milk and cream. Evil!

If you poured caramel in the bottom ofthe dish before baking the vanilla custard, you'd have crème caramel! Yay!

Hopie said...

Sam - Yea, that always sounds funny to me because I have the image of all British people finishing every meal with custard ;-) Of course, that doesn't sound too bad...

Mom - Well we'll have to make some in Rockport then!

Camille - Hehe. Ok, the scary thing is that I was wondering what it would be like if I pour caramel in the bottom of the butterscotch pudding and make DOUBLE creme caramel (although not a creme)... Am I dangerously obsessed?

Anonymous said...

No, just dangerous. You could be the next Evil Pudding Genius! ;)

Kristen said...

Ohhhhhhh my! I love pudding and homemade is so much better than the store bought stuff!

Hopie said...

Camille - Evil Pudding Genius, now that's a title worth striving for!

Kristen - I wholeheartedly agree!