Once you realize that popsicles are more than juice, frozen on a stick, but are in fact a format in which to reformat your favorite desserts, things go downhill. I mean, one minute, you’re slurping your summer away on fairly innocent banana purees and there’s not a thing on earth you would change, and the next minute, you’re wondering why none of your so-called loved ones have ever loved you enough to make you a strawberry cheesecake popsicles (something I came soclose to making last week but my husband begged me to give our freezer a break). I may have even assembled the ingredients for tiramisu popsicles before realizing that my husband had a point, that maybe things were getting out of hand? But it was too late for the butterscotch popsicles, which were already setting up in the freezer, and after he tried one, all the arguments stopped.
Of course, who likes butterscotch pudding, anyway? I mean, yeech, right? Brown sugar, butter, cream and sea salt bubble together until dark and syrupy with the complex notes of everything worthwhile in this world (vanilla, brown butter, aged bourbon, kittens) then expanded with milk and a little thickener into a pudding that sets as it cools. I cannot imagine anything worse to eat. In Opposite Land.
Here, I should give you the final hard sell on why you should make these. I could tell you how thick and creamy they are (rather than icy and drippy), how the butterscotch flavor does not get lost, that the sweetness, miraculously, doesn’t overwhelm (a rarity in Butterscotchlandia), that you can make them with the most generic baking ingredients. But, pshah, I’m not going to. If making them just because you can isn’t sufficient, well, all the more for us, right?
What’s the difference between caramel and butterscotch? I break it down for you, over here.
UK Book Tour: Just in case you missed it, last week I announced a UK book tour the other side of the pond (no big deal) (SUCH A big deal). Early details over here; more to come. [The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook UK Book Tour]
Three years ago: Perfect Blueberry Muffins
Four years ago: Grilled Eggplant and Olive Pizza, Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting and Melon Agua Fresa
Five years ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
Six years ago: Double Chocolate Torte
Butterscotch Pudding Popsicles
No popsicle molds? You could any kind of tiny cup to mold them instead, but my favorite is a champagne flute for shape; you could even use those disposable plastic ones. When the mixture is halfway frozen, insert a popsicle stick and now no retro popsicle mold needs to come between you and Popsicle Week.
Yield: 8 (not the usual 10) 1/3-cup or 3-ounce popsicles
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, or to taste (use less of a fine sea salt)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Combine the cream, brown sugar and butter in the bottom of a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more frequently as it reduces and thickens. You’ll know it’s done when it becomes a bit darker, more syrupy, and smells toasty.
Add cornstarch and slowly whisk in milk. Raise heat to medium. Cook mixture, stirring frequently, until it thickens slightly, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and sea salt. Taste mixture and adjust salt, if needed.
Cool mixture to lukewarm before pouring into popsicle molds. You can hasten this along by setting the pot or bowl with the butterscotch pudding batter in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, and stirring it for a few minutes.
Pour into popsicle molds and freeze as manufacturer directs. If using makeshift molds, let popsicles freeze about halfway (30 to 60 minutes, depending on size) before inserting popsicle sticks, then freeze the rest of the way.
Popsicle molds: I use these guys. I have the metal version, which was all that was available when I bought them a couple years ago, but the metal parts are not dishwasher safe and don’t hold the popsicle sticks in place as well as I understand the plastic ones do, so if I were buying them again, I’d opt for plastic.