Monday, March 14, 2011

Pudding proof

Karel has a relatively small collection of relatively expensive liquors. Unlike most Dutch people of his and his father's generation, see, he doesn't like genever (and, having tasted it, I can't blame him) except as something to "warm" him up on a cold day's hunt. Nor does he like beer. Instead, he goes for wine and, when the occasion calls, really nice Scotch. Preferably single malts, and preferably Islay.

So the Oban that sits in our liquor cabinet is a bit of an anomaly. Karel serves it to guests, mostly, since he a) drinks whiskey once in a blue moon, and b) prefers the Laphroaig. I'd bought it for him because I thought he should try something that was not his usual thing. He liked it well enough, but not so much that I had any reserves about using it to make the butterscotch pudding this weekend, much to the surprise, dismay, and delight of my friends, for whom I'd made it. Dan and Amanda had helped me move the last few bits of my things back to Nijmegen, and in return they got kitties and dinner. And this utterly decadent butterscotch pudding.

I don't cook mise en place very often. I'm more of a "throw it together and see how it goes" kind of person when it comes to cooking and baking, but for making pudding, I've found it goes a lot easier when you've got everything meausred out ahead of time. Making pudding is like going sky diving: you can't stop halfway through. Plus, once the milk mixture starts boiling, it goes really quickly.

Ingredients are: 1/2 cup of light brown sugar, 3 Tbsp water, 1 3/4 cups whole milk, 1/2 cup cream, 3 egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/4 tsp salt, 3 Tbsp butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and 2 Tbsp Scotch whiskey. Preferably a strong single malt--if you can bear to part with yours. Interesting Dutch factoid: most of the Dutch pudding recipes you'll find are flour-based, and consequently cornstarch is not found in the supermarkets, but in the "toko" shops.

Mix the brown sugar and the water and set it on a medium heat until it boils. Once that starts, add the cream and 1 1/2 cups of milk to the pot and wait until that boils.

While you're waiting, set up the food processor and whir together the egg yolks, the last bit of milk, the sugar, the salt, and the cornstarch. You could also use a hand mixer and a large bowl, but it will get a little tricky when it comes time to add the milk (see below). However, it's not impossible and I've done it when making creme anglaise, but it does require an extra level of coordination that prohibits operating a camera at the same time.

When the milk starts a-boiling, start the food processor a-whirring and add the milk in a thin stream. If your depth perception isn't blown to bits by using the camera, don't miss the food processor. The goal is to temper the egg yolks, not to cook them.

Once it's all mixed together, return the pudding to the pan and let it cook until thickened, stirring constantly. This is actually a lot of fun, as the thickening is rather sudden and palpable. You want it to get to the point where a few bubbles start coming up, but no further. pour it BACK into the food processor, and let it whir while you add the butter, the vanilla, and the Scotch. Let it all blend evenly, and then pour it into your pudding conveyance containers. Press some waxed paper/plastic wrap to the top if you're not fond of pudding skins, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

All in all, it is delicious--very buttery, very Scotch-y, and definitely not to be served to small children. It was an...interesting experience, having had this after a small glass of port. Let's just say I slept very well that night.

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