Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Great Butterscotch Caper

Son3 is our last college kid and this summer is the summer of the apartment.  We had to lease it for the full year, so he is staying in the city and living in it while working there.  It is kind of a win/win situation for all of us.  He was here for  a little under a month, so we got to see him and enjoy him a little, and he got to leave before he became terribly irritated with us, and we were only mildly irritated with him.

While he was here he planned to hone his cooking skills a little, or at least learn enough to add some more possibilities to his culinary resume.  As life would have it, he spent the majority of his time at home visiting with my dad during his last days, participating in the funeral, and helping my mother in the days that followed. We did not have a lot of time to stop and catch our breath, much less cook, so I told him I would begin a series of youtube videos teaching him how to make some of his favorite dishes and learn a few more skills in the process.

My days have been consumed by helping Mom through the various processes one has to complete following the death of a spouse. (Thankfully her generation is probably the last one to have such clearly defined male/female responsibility lines.  We are having to teach her everything about finances, and are failing as teachers because she still has no clue about anything...but I digress)

Long story short, Son3 has been back in New York a month and I have posted exactly nothing.  Since I have a few moments today, I thought this would be a good time to start experimenting with recipes following his criteria: tasty and cheap!  We have been doing phone time price comparisons of basic groceries, and I found he really does need to stick to the most basic ingredients to make his $150 monthly grocery money last.  Add to that his extremely small kitchen and storage (or lack of storage) and it gets a lot more interesting.

I found a couple of recipes for inexpensive chocolate and butterscotch pudding mixes, which would add something tasty and filling to a very basic meal. It is a pretty good start to learn some basic techniques and it would also be a decent place for me to get my feet wet with youtube, since pudding is simple and not something I would screw up too badly.

Cook and Serve Butterscotch Pudding Mix

1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup instant non-fat dry milk
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix everything together with a wire whisk and store in a covered container. (A clean and dried peanut butter jar works great and is great for a college budget)

To make 2 servings: (original instructions)
1/4 cup mix
1 cup milk (I used 2 percent)
1 tablespoon butter

In a small pan over a medium heat, mix the pudding mix and the milk.  Blend well and add the butter.  Continue stirring until the mixture boils, turn the heat down and continue cooking at a gentle boil for about 1 minute. Pour into 2 serving bowls and let cool.  Eat and enjoy?

Very critical review:
I have now made 2 recipes of the mix using both light brown and dark brown sugar.  I thought the
light brown sugar did not add enough brown sugar flavor and the pudding itself was light beige and just not attractive at all, so save yourself the trouble and bother and go ahead and use the dark brown sugar.  We aren't even going to mention the light brown sugar version again.

                                                             Brown Sugar Version 1

Version 1: I made this according to the recipe directions. I tasted the first version when it was slightly warmer than room temperature. It was butterscotch flavored, but not intensely butterscotch.  It also had a strange texture.  It was not chalky, but had none of the creaminess found in a regular pudding recipe. When it was completely cool the texture changed into something quite unpleasant and I am not exactly sure how to describe it. I know it did not technically squeak in my mouth, but it felt like it should. There was something about it that was completely off-putting.  Bear in mind I am an extremely tactile eater and feel supersedes taste almost all the time.
                                                         Brown Sugar Version 2

Version 2: Used 1/4 cup of the mix, 1 cup of milk, upped it to 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. 1 teaspoon molasses and 1/2 egg.  I mixed the egg and milk, added the butter, vanilla and the molasses. 1 egg was beaten in a small bowl and 1/2 (eyeballed) of it was poured into a larger heat proof bowl and set aside.  I cooked the mixture on the stovetop until it just started to boil.  Then I very slowly poured about 1/3 of it into the egg, while whisking the egg mixture at the same time.  When the pudding and the egg were thoroughly combined, I poured it back into the remaining pudding mix and cooked it for about 1 minute over a lowered medium heat, then poured it into 2 serving dishes. The molasses gave it a richer color, but changed the flavor. Instead of butterscotch it now tasted like table syrup flavored pudding but the consistency was more like traditional pudding.   When it was completely cool I tried it again. It was a much smoother pudding than it was lukewarm and I liked the way it felt in my mouth, but the molasses flavor was intensified.  If you love molasses this might be the one for you.

                                                             Brown Sugar Version 3

Version 3: Used the same 1/4 cup of the mix and 1 cup of milk, but this time I melted the butter  and added it to the milk, then combined it with the pudding mix.  Once I had everything combined and smooth, I turned on the heat and cooked it until it formed bubbles around the edges. I sat it off the heat for about 45 seconds and then very slowly added about 1/3 of it to the beaten half egg whisking constantly.  When it was all combined I slowly added it back to the pan with the remaining pudding, before adding the vanilla and whisking continuously again.  When it came to a slow boil again, I cooked it while whisking for another minute.  Pour into 2 serving bowls.  My first sample of this pudding was when it was lukewarm.  The color of the pudding was a little lighter but the mouthfeel of this was much like version 2 and the taste was much better.  It tasted more like a true butterscotch.  It was even tastier when it had cooled and the consistency felt like true pudding.  This one is by far my favorite.

Now I think I am ready to begin the youtube adventure with Son3. He likes to cook and should be able to add to his skill set pretty quickly, plus I can show him how to make all his favorites. Technology is so cool! I'm not quite sure why I resist it so much, or, is it the old dog new trick thing?


  1. We eventually took over most of the finances for my mother. Even though she knew what she was doing, the sheer volume of all of the paperwork overwhelmed her. Not to mention the times she's been incapacitated by various illnesses. We have most things mailed to us because we're not close enough for drop ins. We consult her in everything and it's working out pretty well.

    I'm looking forward to the recipes for your son. One of my sons also likes to cook and needs inexpensive ideas He bounces ideas off of me sometimes but otherwise, he's a big user of the internet and creativity. He's given me ideas sometimes of things I've never thought about like roasted radishes (big sale that week on radishes.)

  2. I live less than 5 minutes from Mom and my sister is about 10 minutes away, so we are close enough to drop by often. It breaks my heart that she is overwhelmed by financial decisions at the same time she is learning to live without her life mate.

    I guess we will see how the youtube thing goes. It seems to be the easiest way to load a large video file for him to watch.

  3. I'm sorry about the loss of your dad and I feel bad for your mom. So many things to learn and grieving on top of it. Prayers for your family.
    DJ will have to go to his dad for any real cooking/recipe advise. Now bills on the other hand, I'm the parent to go to.