For Better or for worse, my husband doesn't have much of a sweet tooth...or salt tooth... or even grease tooth, for that matter. Crediting his healthy Santa Cruz childhood (where tofu is the other white meat), his favorite meals consist of seafood, large salads, and big plates of steamed vegetables. Breakfast is a banana- hold the coffee- and he's rarely tempted by a dessert...unless, of course, it's butterscotch pudding! Like bacon to vegetarians, I imagine butterscotch as a gateway flavor for many a dietary coup.
A while back, I tried out for a position at a schmancy restaurant reknown for its butterscotch pudding. Imagine my disgust when I learned that the pudding's secret ingredient was packaged butterscotch chips. The nerve!
This (better) (silky) (sexy) pot de creme contains a real butterscotch wallop, as the flavor is pushed to its limit; most recipes call for the sugar to be cooked to a respectable 240 degrees- this one has you stop just short of scorching at 250, because the darker the sugar, the deeper the flavor (be sure to have your cream hot and ready to stop the sugar from cooking, or it will indeed scorch).
Butterscotch Pots de Creme yields 15 or so 4-oz servings
4 1/2 c heavy cream, 1 cup reserved
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
pinch of salt
18 egg yolks (that's right, folks!)
10.5 oz dark brown sugar
2.5 oz water
Whisk together the yolks with the reserved cup of cream. Set aside.
Scald the rest of the cream with the milk, vanilla bean, and salt in a tall pot. Keep warm, covered, but don't allow to boil.
In small, heavy pot, combine the sugar with the water, and with a wet hand, wash away any sugar that clings to the side of the pot. Heat to 250 degrees (240, if you're feeling shy), then immediately pour into the hot cream mixture. Whisk to combine.
Temper the cream mixture into the yolks and whisk until combined. Pour through a fine-meshed strainer, then pour into ramekins. If you own a blow torch, briefly pass its flame an inch from the tops of the ramekins to shoo away any bubbles. Otherwise, use a blow-dryer set on low, or prick them with a toothpick.
Place ramekins in a water bath, cover tightly with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 15-30 minutes (time varies depending upon the heat of the custard starting out). After 15 minutes, carefully remove the foil (danger: steam!) and lightly tap the ramekin. When there's a dime-sized jiggle in the middle of the custard, remove from the oven, lift off the foil, and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.
Top with a dollop of whipped cream, serve with a cookie, and save a pot for Kevin!