Citizens, heirloom recipe week continues here on TFD, but with the surprise last-minute minute addition of a dessert I literally just had today!
I was at the famed One Market restaurant here in San Francisco and I speak of their legendary Butterscotch Pudding! This recipe isn’t theirs, but it does go back to the dawn of the 20th century and is a perfect addition to our weekly theme!!
Dessert lovers might notice that caramel and butterscotch look and taste pretty similar.
They are both made with melted sugar, but they use different ingredients. Caramel is a mix of white granulated sugar, heavy whipping cream, butter, and a dash of vanilla. Butterscotch, on the other hand, is made with brown sugar instead.
Butterscotch is traced back to Doncaster, a town in Yorkshire, England, where the word was first recorded. It is often credited to Samuel Parkinson, a confectioner who began making it as a hard candy in 1817. Tins of the treat even had the royal seal of approval!
As noted in this lightly edited excerpt from a Washington Post story:
Sticking With Butterscotch
By Candy Sagon
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Everything old is new again — except, it seems, for butterscotch. That buttery sweet confection, the color of sunshine mixed with honey, used to rule America’s dessert world. There was butterscotch pudding, sauce, syrup and cream pie, to say nothing of that little cut-crystal dish filled with candies at Grandma’s house.
These days, just try to find a slice of butterscotch chiffon pie on a dessert menu or even much beyond butterscotch candies in the supermarket. Not gonna happen. Which is puzzling, considering that butterscotch’s close relatives have made recent comebacks: Caramel is the new darling of pastry chefs and artisan candymakers. Even toffee has been allowed to shine again. But butterscotch? No one has asked her to the dance yet.
That’s really a shame, says Berkeley pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon, who last June wrote an impassioned, nostalgic plea for butterscotch’s resurrection on his food blog Eggbeater. Waxing romantic, Lydon wrote that the flavor of real, homemade butterscotch is elusive, “like the perfume your first love wore.”
Lydon says butterscotch has fallen out of favor because most people today associate it with “those awful chips” or the artificial flavor of instant pudding.
Cookbook author Diana Dalsass thinks it has to do with the fact that the name includes the word “butter.” “It’s still such a taboo because of our obsession with dieting,” says Dalsass, who bucked the trend in 2001 with “The Butterscotch Lover’s Cookbook” (Buttercup Press), a slim volume of dessert recipes plus a list of places where you can order butterscotch treats.
So exactly what is butterscotch? And how does it differ from caramel?
Caramel is simply white sugar that’s heated until it begins to caramelize, or turn brown, explains pastry chef James Sinopoli, a culinary instructor at Stratford University in Falls Church. Butterscotch is created when caramelized sugar (most recipes today use brown sugar) is paired with butter. The two are cooked together until the sugar and fat react under heat (what chemists call the Maillard reaction) to create the browned flavor that is so rich and irresistible.
Sinopoli tells his students to think of it this way: “Caramel is the parent of confections like butterscotch, toffee and nut brittles. The differences between them come in how hot the sugar gets, when the fat is added, what other ingredients are involved, and how much stirring you have to do.” For brittle, for example, the sugar is caramelized and butter is added at the end with a little baking soda to give it a lighter, crunchier texture.
Most food historians agree that butterscotch does not contain Scotch and didn’t originate in Scotland. It’s more likely that the name came from the term “to scotch,” which means to cut or score. Nineteenth-century candymakers would scotch the cooling candy so that it would be easier to break into pieces later.
Butterscotch desserts are hard to find in our area, although pastry chefs speak of them wistfully.
It may be total heresy, but TFD does enjoy the gentlest whisper of Scotch whisky in his butterscotch pudding – by all means omit it if you so prefer. This pudding will definitely take you back if you’re of “a certain age”, or it will make you an instant convert if you’re not!
Battle on – the Generalissimo
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