Before we begin, I want you to know this recipe for Butterscotch Miso Pudding, is not your old fashion style Butterscotch pudding, nor is it anything like a boxed | packaged version of butterscotch pudding. This recipe is for the adult pudding lover, with adult tastes, that loves complexity with each bite. Those who are daring eaters, adventurous in the kitchen, and fully embrace the true flavor of butterscotch. This homemade version has all the nostalgic undertones of a classic butterscotch pudding recipe, yet with my unique culinary twist, using food science, fermentation, and flavor development to achieve the perfect butterscotch pudding recipe.
If you are a fan of Home Brew Chef’s online cookbook, then you may have seen my Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies, Butter “Scotch” Sauce and Irish Whiskey Smoked Salted Caramel Sauce recipes. I do love butterscotch and this recipe was inspired by what I have learned from these other creations.
To create the Ultimate Butterscotch Pudding recipe I had to think about, what is the essence of butterscotch? What does butterscotch really taste like? So I did some culinary dissecting on this subject matter. Vanilla, oak, maple, coconut, salted caramel, butter, whiskey, bourbon, and scotch all have similar butterscotch flavor profiles that pop here and there in butterscotch. These flavor descriptors all define what butterscotch tastes like. Using a combination of these flavors, in the correct ratio from these ingredients, will enhance and intensify the butterscotch profile umbrella, expanding the finished flavor profile.
The ingredients and adjustments I’ve made to this recipe build off the classic flavor of butterscotch, and not just relying on brown sugar. Dark brown sugar (a blend of regular sugar with a percentage of molasses) is the dominant flavor in butterscotch. I don’t go as heavy on the dark brown sugar as too much, creates an overly molasses ladened pudding. Instead, I cut the brown sugar with blonde coconut sugar. Coconut sugar adds some vanilla flavor, coconut and caramel notes to the finished pudding, while also dropping that extra sweetness some butterscotch puddings have.
Outside of brown sugar and sweetness, most butterscotch has a backbone flavor of vanilla. Vanilla is used in so many desserts, that when vanilla is used it creates a foundation flavor, for other flavors to build off. There are some interesting connections between vanilla and wood, that creates unique flavors that we attribute to so many beverages we enjoy.
Oak is an interesting flavor, as vanillin, the organic compound with the molecular formula C8H8O3 is found both in the wood of the tree and also in a vanilla bean pod. This is why so many of the delicious Bourbons, Scotches, and Whisk(e)ys all have that comforting vanilla flavor without using vanilla beans. Therefore, adding these alcohols can further increase the flavor of vanilla.
Vanilla is a very complex flavor. Real vanilla beans add the seeds and the pod’s flavor attributes to the recipe being made. They are superior when baking with the orchid pod over just adding an imitation | alcohol extracts. Using real vanilla beans to syrups, left to age, infuse and enhance flavor profile o the final product adds an extra touch that we desire. Blis Gourmet out of Grand Rapids, Michigan has a very inspiring product line. I have bought and used many of their products over the years and been blown away with their barrel-aged maple syrup. They have a Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup that tastes as incredible as it sounds. They made a limited edition product of a 100% pure maple syrup Tahitian Vanilla Infused #379 natural that was pretty outstanding. Using maple syrup, which in its raw form a maple tree sap (reduced and cooked down to intensify the final product, resulting in different grades of maple syrup). This tree by-product has some of those same chemical flavor elements that are parallel to vanillin. Taking that reduced maple syrup and aging it in a prior filled and saturated oak wood bourbon barrels would also be a great way to get more vanilla flavor into finished maple syrup. This common breakfast ingredient adds more vanilla depth into this butterscotch pudding recipe, with minimal added natural sweetness.
As pudding is usually a dairy-based dessert, I suggest using the best whole milk you can get your hands on. I suggest using non-homogenized whole milk, preferably organic, to get the most out of this pudding recipe. I am a huge fan of Straus Family Creamery, as they produce this style of milk. Straus Family Creamery also practices many environmental procedures, that make it a zero-emission dairy. The extra richness and full flavors from their milk, butter, and cream improve the final texture in this pudding.
To bring the savory and help cut the sweetness, adding salt is a unique way to add a counterpoint in flavor building. The ying to the yang if you will. I wanted to dance that fine line of savory and sweet in this pudding recipe. We all have heard about salted caramel. What the addition of salt does to a caramel sauce is pretty incredible. It elevates the almost burnt sugar flavors, that when you look at the science of caramel, the caramelization of the sugar, transforms a sweet ingredient to become more bitter, the darker the caramel gets. Think about molasses, it’s the byproduct of the sugar-making process, the reduced leftovers if you will. Molasses has a lot of extra nutritional benefits as well. Depending on how the molasses (or in England, Black Treacle) are refined, different sugarcane, age of the sugar cane, and the boil of the syrup from one to three times (blackstrap) for the most bitter version of molasses. As molasses is mixed back into sugar to make brown sugar (more molasses makes dark brown, less molasses equals light brown), that almost burnt flavor comes from the molasses. Adding salt to molasses, it acts much like salted caramel.
Now to go all crazy on your taste buds, add miso to this butterscotch mix. Yes, fermented soybeans and rice, mixed with koji and salt, left to ferment for around 6 months makes white miso, also called Shiromiso. White Miso is the sweetest of miso in the miso family. Depending on the brand, the ratio of rice to soybeans and age, the flavors of this ingredient bring umami (the fifth flavor in Japan) or savoriness, while also having flavors of browned butter, caramel, funky, sometimes fruits (banana, mango, pineapple) with an underlining of salt. Adding a spoonful of miso into a butterscotch pudding, with all the above flavors from this ingredient, combined with all the other ingredients, infuse to make a pretty amazing Butterscotch Miso pudding recipe. If you don’t think using miso in a sweet application sounds good, I highly suggest you try one of my other dessert recipes featuring white miso: Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur recipe or Sour Cream Pound Cake Recipe.
To give this pudding a final touch of extra comfort, I add Malted Milk Powder. This ingredient amplifies the dairy flavor, while not really adding sweetness. The malted milk flavor has some of that nostalgia, that milkshake additional twist, to this recipe. When combined with the maple syrup, coconut sugar, Scotch, miso, brown sugar, and dairy, it rounds out the flavor profile, adds harmony, with almost an extra boost of baking umami.
This recipe is a solid, knock your socks off, comfort food classic. Below the recipe, directions are some recipe variations of this Butterscotch Miso Pudding recipe. Just think, if you added smoked salt to the mix? Or top the Butterscotch Miso Pudding with some Irish Whiskey Smoked Salted Caramel Sauce, to make a Butterscotch Budino (Italian for pudding) and add a big dollop of whipping cream, to garnish. I hope you enjoy this wonderful, make-ahead recipe, the flavor dissection, and why I use these ‘not what you would normally think about using in a butterscotch pudding recipe’ ingredients. I would love to hear your comments and if you came up with any of your own variations to this Butterscotch Miso Pudding recipe!
Makes: 6 – 8 servings, depending on size, from a 6 ounce to 8-ounce serving