When we were growing up in the 90s, pudding only came in one of three forms: in a plastic cup that was packed into your lunchbox, as a powder from a Jello-brand packet that you mixed with milk on your stovetop, and as a chocolate blob sitting on the end of the Pizza Hut buffet. It wasn’t until we were adults that we realized you could make pudding from scratch, and so when we recently saw this recipe from the New York Times that we decided to try making homemade pudding for ourselves. We especially liked this version because it’s an interesting flavor – not just your typical chocolate or vanilla – and it’s got a little bit of booze in it so that kicks things up. And surprisingly, pudding isn’t all that hard to make, as long as you pay attention and keep your eye on things. So here we’ll walk you through the steps to make your own butterscotch pudding!
For the first part of your pudding, you’ll want to measure 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and a large pinch of salt into a large heatproof bowl. Separate the yolks from your 4 eggs and whisk in just the yolks (you won’t need the whites) until you have an even, smooth mixture.
Then place a tablespoon of butter and 3/4 cup of brown sugar in a pot and warm over medium heat, whisking frequently until the sugar has fully melted into the butter. Cook, now whisking continuously, for one minute more until the sugar and butter are darkened.
Measure out 2 cups of milk and a cup of cream and pour them into the pot – the butter and sugar mixture will immediately become solid, but don’t worry! Continue whisking constantly for 5 to 10 minutes until the butter and sugar melts back down to a liquid and mixes fully and evenly with the milk and cream. Pour half of the stovetop mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks and cornstarch and whisk until everything is fully combined, then whisk the rest of the mixture into your bowl. Scrape the pudding back into your pot on the stove and cook over medium heat while whisking continuously until it comes to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and cook for around 5 minutes more, while keeping on whisking, until it’s thickened to your liking.
Scoop the pudding into a bowl and stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla and a tablespoon of bourbon. Place plastic wrap directly over the top of the pudding, gently pressing it into the surface, and chill in your fridge for at least 2 hours. When you’re ready to eat it, serve with whipped cream and sliced almonds scattered on top.
All in all, this pudding only takes around half an hour of effort (not including the time it has to spend in the fridge) and requires only a handful of ingredients. You will have to whisk for a lot of that time and watch to make sure things don’t curdle or burn, and there is a few moments of angst when your pour the cold milk and cream into the hot butter and sugar and everything solidifies instantly. But it all works out to become this beautiful pudding, and the result is a tasty, creamy, slightly bourbon-y dessert that you can feel proud of making. It’s fun to test out a homemade pudding for yourself, so give this version a try if you’re looking for a cool treat to make.