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A fragrant butterscotch custard treat

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Butterscotch pudding isn’t traditional on most holiday menus, but I adore its brown-sugar creaminess anytime it’s on offer. In this more sophisticated take, I infused a baked butterscotch custard with pumpkin purée, giving it a supremely autumnal character.

The pumpkin also makes the rich custard slightly lighter, which is exactly what you want after turkey and all the trimmings.

To make this as fragrant as possible, I added a sprinkle of pumpkin spice blend to the whipped cream topping. I also baked the custard in one large dish instead of individual custard cups, which makes it easy to transport.

Pumpkin-Butterscotch Custard With Spiced Whipped Cream

Ingredients for the custard:

• 1 cup/210 grams packed dark brown sugar

• 1 tablespoon/14 grams unsalted butter

• 1 1/2 cups/355 milliliters heavy cream

• 1 1/2 cups/355 milliliters whole milk

• 5 large eggs

• 4 large egg yolks

• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt

• 1 cup/250 grams pumpkin purée or solid pack pumpkin

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or bourbon

• 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Ingredients for the topping:

• 2 cups/473 milliliters heavy cream, cold

• 1/3 cup/35 grams powdered sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more to taste


Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan on the center rack.

In a medium saucepan, melt brown sugar and butter over medium-high heat, stirring, until sugar is melted, about 3 to 7 minutes. (Lower the heat if the sugar starts to burn.) Remove from heat and pour in a big splash of cream. The melted sugar will bubble up; wait for it to settle a bit, then stir to combine the caramel and cream. It may seize up into bits of hard candy-like caramel, and that is OK. Return the pan to medium-low heat, add remaining cream and milk and, whisking occasionally, let simmer until all the hard caramel bits are melted, 7 to 12 minutes.

In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks and salt. Pour a splash of the hot caramel mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly, then slowly pour in remaining caramel mixture. Whisk in pumpkin, bourbon or vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a shallow 2-quart ceramic casserole or baking dish, or 9-by-12-inch or 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish (don’t use metal). Cover loosely with aluminum foil and place on the rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan in the oven. Add hot tap water to the baking sheet or roasting pan until it comes a third of the way up the side of the custard dish.

Bake the custard until the edges are just set but the center is still jiggly (the center will firm up as it cools), 50 to 65 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, remove foil and let cool for at least 1 hour. Cover the custard dish and chill until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Make the topping: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice until soft peaks form.

To serve, heap the whipped cream onto the custard and sprinkle with more pumpkin pie spice, if you like.

Total time: 1 hour, plus at least 6 hours’ cooling and chilling, serves 8-10.

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