When I was a kid, I was super close to one of my grandmothers. It was just her, and she used to stay with us quite often on the weekends. She definitely helped out around the house a lot, and I’m sure she cooked lots of meals for us. But for my brother and me she was most famous for making two things: real brewed iced tea with tons of sugar (not the powdered stuff!), and pudding. Her sweet tooth was (and still is) legendary. She used to say that she was born with a sugar deficiency and had to spend the rest of her life making up for it. Who was I to argue? On Monday mornings as I marched off to school, I was nothing short of heartbroken at her leaving. But if we were really really lucky, she would have made pudding and poured it into juice glasses then left it to set up on the counter, waiting for us after school. So even though there are already plenty of pudding recipes on the blog, there’s always room for one more. This time, smooth, rich gluten free butterscotch pudding. And it’ll be waiting for my kids when they get home today from school.
My grandmother most definitely made her pudding from a box (and I couldn’t possibly have cared less—much less even knew back then that you could make it without the box, but for sure it was the cooked stuff, not instant pudding which doesn’t even taste like pudding to me), and it was plenty good enough for us. But when I make pudding these days, I always make it from scratch because, even though we’re fine with corn in my house, I don’t care for the way pudding “leaks” as it sets up and cools when it’s made with cornstarch as a thickener.
The butterscotch sauce can be made days and days ahead of time. The pudding itself can even be made days ahead of time. I don’t like to let it set up in the refrigerator, though, since I like the smoothness of both the butterscotch and the pudding at room temperature. It tastes more like custard to me that way. But it’s up to you—and you can always store the puddings in the refrigerator and then allow them to soften to room temperature before serving. Either way, pudding is near and dear to my heart. I kind of suspect that my no-nonsense grandmother would think I was crazy to go through all this fuss, but she most certainly would have grabbed a spoon and joined in on the eating.
3 cups (24 fl. oz.) milk (any kind), at room temperature
4 egg yolks (120 g total), at room temperature
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
First, make the butterscotch sauce.* In a medium-size, heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, and stir until combined. Stir in the granulated sugar, and cook over medium-low heat until smooth, stirring frequently. The mixture will clump, and eventually melt after about 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and, whisking constantly, add the cream. The mixture will bubble quite a lot, and the sugar may seize. It will melt again, though. Continue whisking until the bubbling subsides. Return the saucepan to medium heat and, whisking occasionally, bring to a simmer. Continue to cook, whisking occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is slightly reduced and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, and add the vanilla and salt. Set aside to cool.
*The butterscotch sauce can be made up to 5 days ahead of time and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. As it will harden when chilled, before using in the pudding and to serve, the sauce must be warmed in a saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave, just until melted and smooth, but not hot.
Make the pudding. In a medium-size heat-safe bowl, place the flour blend, sugar and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz.) of the milk, and then the egg yolks, whisking to combine after each addition. The mixture should be smooth. Set it aside. In a medium-size heavy-bottom saucepan, place the remaining 2 1/2 cups (20 fl. oz.) milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the milk reaches a simmer, remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly trickle the hot milk into the bowl with the egg mixture, whisking constantly to combine. Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat until the whisk leaves a visible trail in the pudding as you whisk it (2 to 3 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat, add the chopped butter and the vanilla, and about half of the butterscotch sauce, and stir until the pudding is smooth. Pour into a large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent it from forming a skin. Set aside to cool briefly.
Assemble the individual servings. Pour about half of the remaining butterscotch sauce into a layer on the bottom of each of 6 small containers, each about 6 ounces in capacity. Divide the pudding evenly among the containers, and cover with the remaining butterscotch sauce, evenly divided among them. Allow to cool to room temperature, uncovered. The pudding can be served at room temperature or covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before serving. If chilled, the butterscotch sauce will harden a bit.