Butterscotch is one of those flavors that can make you travel through time. I remember eating it, still warm off the stove, when I was just a kid. It was straight from the box of Jell-o instant pudding and it was fabulous to my 7-year-old taste buds. Today I’d probably have a very different reaction to that product and my poor kids have never even tried it. I’d be horrified by its overly sweet and gelatinous taste and they would probably love it! Instead I made them some from scratch, so they would have the same romantic memory, but this one they can take into adulthood.
I got David Lebovitz’s Ripe for Dessert book this year from my aunt Kris, the same one I sent the cake to FL for. It is a lovely book about all kinds of tasty desserts made with fresh fruit. As I was flipping through it fell to the page with butterscotch pudding. He paired it with bananas, which at first seemed like a match that would be far too sweet. But the banana’s are caramelized in coffee, which perfectly balances the sugar with the bite of coffee. Sweet enough to satisfy my sons and yet not at all cloying like the Jell-o of my childhood.
The recipe is wonderful just as is, or made into a trifle with sponge cake soaked in the coffee caramel syrup, then layered with fresh whipped cream, the bananas and the butterscotch pudding.
The Butterscotch Pudding from Ripe for Dessert:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon whiskey (optional, sort of!)
1 cup lightly whipped heavy cream for garnish
Coffee-Caramelized Bananas (recipe below)
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cook until it is all melted and bubbling vigorously.
Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream in a couple of tablespoons at a time so that it won’t splatter. Whisk well between additions. Whisk in the milk, vanilla bean and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and eggs until the cornstarch dissolves. Whisk the cornstarch into the butterscotch pudding mixture.
Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the pudding comes to a boil. Continue cooking and whisking for 2 more minutes (add the whiskey now, if using!). The pudding will become nice and thick and should be boiling while you whisk. Don’t skimp on the 2 minutes or your pudding will not set up properly.
Strain the pudding through a fine mesh Strainer.
Divide into small cups or bowls, cover and chill. You can eat it warm as well! Top with whipped cream and the caramelized bananas:
Coffee-Caramelized Bananas Ripe for Dessert:
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon corn syrup
2 not overly ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
6 tablespoons strong coffee or espresso
In a large skillet melt the butter with the vanilla bean. Stir in the brown sugar and corn syrup, allow to melt, add the bananas in a single layer. Cook over medium-high heat, without stirring! When the bananas start to sizzle add 3 tablespoons of the coffee.
Do not disturb the bananas as you spoon the caramel over the tops of them. Tilt the pan to collect the juices and spoon it over the bananas several times until they are deeply caramelized on the underside. This will take between 8-12 minutes depending on how ripe your bananas are. (I suspect that David used Plantains in his photo shoot, they are much larger and hold there shape very well. If you go this route you will need to cook them considerably longer.)
Once the bananas are fully caramelized remove them from the pan so they don’t get mushy.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of coffee to the juices left in the pan and stir together until everything is nicely melted and the consistency of maple syrup.
Spoon the bananas over the pudding and whipped cream. Drizzle a spoon of the caramel sauce over the top and serve.
To make a Trifle:
I never throw away my cake scraps, which makes for a very crowded freezer. I wrap them really well so they won’t take on the personality of my freezer and then wrap them again! This way I have them on the ready for emergency desserts like trifle. I cubed up the cake scraps left from Kris’s birthday, soaked them with the coffee caramel sauce, layered it with the butterscotch pudding, whipped cream and bananas and repeated this until I got to the top of my trifle bowl, just beyond the top!!
This trifle would be fantastic made with Devil’s Food Cake as well!