Cognac Butterscotch Pudding
Butterscotch pudding can be so much more than a packaged snack. Try this Cognac Butterscotch Pudding for a heavenly homemade pudding that is absolutely worth making from scratch. Top it off with cognac-flavored whipped cream for even more indulgence.
Top this vanilla-speckled Cognac Butterscotch Pudding with a spoonful of cognac whipped cream for a heavenly dessert that is absolutely worth making from scratch.
Note: This post was originally published on March 24, 2013. The recipe has been updated from the archives with updated content and photographs, as well as improved kitchen notes and recipe annotation. I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen.
Once in a while, I get a special request. And being that I never want to disappoint anyone, I honor my family’s appetite. It just might take me a little while.
It may have been a few months ago when my husband first filed his request for butterscotch pudding. This was not a dessert that stirred cravings in me whatsoever; my past experiences with butterscotch pudding go hand in hand with plastic cups and foil top lids.
But I eventually learned that butterscotch pudding could rouse a deep desire for others. Soon after that first request, we were out to dinner with friends when butterscotch pudding came up in conversation, and I made a mental note to push the darn thing up on my to-make list.
Three holidays and two seasons later, I finally fulfilled my promise. Amber, vanilla speckled, and clinging to my spoon with purpose, I can understand now how a good Cognac Butterscotch Pudding can be haunting, how it can make you dream of sitting quietly, dipping into each heavenly bite. I just wish it didn’t take me so long.
How to Make Cognac Butterscotch Pudding
Puddings are some of the coziest – and easiest – desserts we can make. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it can’t be exquisite. I recommend using the best quality ingredients you can find.
Egg yolks give puddings a rich, custardy texture and add color, so try to use good quality farm-fresh eggs with deeply hued yolks.
Fresh vanilla beans are also critical in this recipe. You could, in theory, use vanilla extract, but if possible, splurge for good quality, plump vanilla beans. The specks of vanilla really make a difference!
Other than the egg yolks and vanilla bean, all you need are the standard ingredients for a pudding: brown sugar, kosher salt, whole milk, cornstarch, heavy cream, and cognac.
Start by melting the butter in a saucepan. Split your vanilla bean and drop it into the melted butter. Be sure not to waste a single drop of precious vanilla bean! Stir in the brown sugar and salt.
Make the cornstarch slurry by whisking some of the milk with the cornstarch. Add the egg yolks and whisk until smooth.
Pour the remaining milk and cream into the brown sugar, followed by the cornstarch slurry-egg yolk mixture.
And then it’s time to cook! Bring the custard to a gentle boil, lower the heat to a simmer and whisk constantly until the pudding is thick. You will know it’s done when it coats the back of a spoon. If you can run your finger down the spoon and you can still see the spoon, it’s thick enough to transfer to serving cups to chill in the refrigerator.
The puddings are lovely as they are, but don’t forget to make the cognac whipped cream! It really takes it to the next level! And if you want to make them extra pretty, top them with chocolate shavings, crumbled cookies, or a sprinkling of cinnamon.
More Dessert Recipes
Cognac Butterscotch Pudding
For the Cognac Butterscotch Pudding:
- 1/4 cup salted butter (4 tablespoons or 1/2 stick; note that I prefer salted, but unsalted is good too)
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk divided
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon cognac
For the Cognac Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon cognac
- Begin by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with the back of a small paring knife. Drop the bean and the seeds into the melting butter. Once the butter begins to bubble and brown, stir in the brown sugar and salt until the sugar is coated with the butter. Turn off the heat for a moment.
- Whisk together 1/4 cup of the milk with cornstarch until smooth and free from lumps. Add the egg yolks and whisk until blended.
- Pour the remaining whole milk and heavy cream into the brown sugar while whisking. Whisk in the cornstarch-milk-egg yolk mixture. Turn the heat back on and bring it to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently. Once the pudding begins to bubble and thicken, lower the heat to a simmer, and whisk constantly, allowing the pudding to thicken a little more until you are able to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat, discard the vanilla bean, and stir in the cognac.
- Pour the custards into your serving cups and top each with a square of waxed paper or plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the puddings. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to cool and thicken.
- Make the whipped cream by whisking the heavy cream in the chilled bowl of an electric mixer until thickened and soft peaks form. Add the sugar and cognac and whisk a little more. Keep chilled in a tightly sealed container.
- Serve with a dollop of cognac whipped cream.