Butterscotch Pudding with Toffee Crumbles

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Things are changing for me. Two weeks ago I was feeling sick all day every day, with gag-inducing aversions to everything from chicken to the smell of the dog. Now I am feeling sick only occasionally, with cravings of infuriating urgency for everything from clementines to peppermint fudge crackle ice cream.

I’m much happier this way.

Craving this week: pudding. Homemade. Silky, sweet, creamy, cold pudding. With an ample dollop of whipped cream.

And a tiny spoon.

I had the most lust-worthy butterscotch pudding at a restaurant in Vancouver (that shall not be named because they refused my ultra-polite request for a recipe in return for a fantastic review) but has since closed their doors (maybe if they’d let me review it!! …kidding).

Anyway, I’ve been dreaming of that pudding since the first luscious spoonful graced my lips.

But I re-created it, and my version is everything I wanted it to be… namely, luxurious.

The flavour foundation is a lush butterscotch sauce, which is made just like caramel but with brown sugar instead of white – simply dissolve sugar in a saucepan and cook, without stirring, until magic takes place; the sugars caramelize into a rich, complex sauce that is far greater than the sum of its parts. The butterscotch sauce is whisked into hot milk, and the pudding is thickened with cornstarch and egg yolks. A splash of whisky puts the “scotch” in butterscotch.

You’ll know butterscotch is ready to take off the heat when it looks molten (rather than thick and sandy) and you’ll smell the characteristic nutty, toasty caramel smell. Watch very attentively as sugar goes from caramel-y to burn-y very quickly – and it’s a bit harder to tell with butterscotch, without the colour-change indicator you have with caramel. If you don’t get it right the first time, don’t sweat it! It’s just brown sugar. Toss it out and try again. (But I do think you’ll get it right the first time!!!)

With any egg-thickened pudding/ice cream/custard, you run the risk of curdling. Again, no sweat. If you see little lumps in your pudding, just push it through a fine strainer and into the bowl. Problem totally solved. Also, I avoid scraping the sides and bottom of the saucepan into the bowl, as the most curdling takes place in direct contact with the heat source. Just pour and forget about the 1/8 inch layer left in the pot.


  • 3 tbsp salted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp Scotch or whiskey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For topping:

  • 3/4 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 chocolate-covered toffee bar (such as Heath or Crunchie), crushed


  1. Melt butter in a saucepan, then add brown sugar and stir until all brown sugar is wet-looking. Stop stirring, and let the mixture bubble and caramelize until it becomes liquid (rather than like thick wet sand) and it smells nutty and caramelly. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 cup of heavy cream. Set aside.

  2. In a large saucepan off of heat, whisk together milk, cornstarch and salt. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and whisk in butterscotch.

  3. In a glass measuring cup, beat yolks with a fork. In a very slow, steady stream, pour about 1 cup of hot pudding mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly. Whisk yolk mixture back into remaining pudding and stir over medium-low heat until it thickens and a few sputtering bubbles appear at the surface, about 5 minutes.

  4. Transfer pudding to a large bowl (pressing it through a fine-meshed sieve if it looks curdled at all). Stir in scotch and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours in advance.

  5. Just before serving, beat cream on high speed of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar and vanilla extract.

  6. Top individual servings of pudding with whipped cream, sprinkle with toffee crumbles and serve.

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