Baked Sunday Mornings: Recalling ‘butterscotch days’ through tarts

I love my first paging through a cookbook, particularly one as visually and deliciously stunning as “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito (2008). Usually, this initial “walkthrough” establishes my “must-make” list. Without question, the Butterscotch Pudding Tarts in the book has always been number one.

It’s easy to understand why, I suppose, I was drawn to this recipe and kept looking at it, again and again. The photo alone in the book set me to drooling — bitty tarts built from an oat-y crust and filled with creamy butterscotch pudding. It could be the recipe sent me straight to comforts of childhood: those oatmeal cookies with butterscotch chips, “Oatmeal Scotchies,” or, more likely, just the longing for that reassurance of a bowl of butterscotch pudding — complete with skin — made from a mix stirred up with milk and cooked on the stove. Oh, the anticipation as a little girl of my mom making the pudding we’d eat warm; and when I was old enough, I had my own turn at the stove whipping up that caramel-colored sweet treat.

So I was delighted to see the tarts on the baking schedule for Baked Sunday Mornings. As I began making them, just smelling the pastry dough, which included brown sugar, oats, whole wheat flour and lots of butter, made me hungry. It smelled like a really good oatmeal cookie dough.

I got to break out my little tart shell pans, beloved, but not used often enough, to fill with the cookie-like pastry dough. It seemed pretty easy to work with and filled the pans nicely.

After an overnight freeze, the shells were baked. My baking time was a little longer than that mentioned in the recipe, but I tend to have a slow oven.

Homemade butterscotch pudding has also been on my cooking bucket list. This version seemed a wee bit more complicated than other recipes I have seen, beginning with making a caramel.

Part two of cooking the filling involved more of a milky vanilla (with vanilla caviar and the rendered bean) stovetop pudding, into which the caramel was added, then egg yolks were tempered with that and once all was blended, it was returned to the stovetop.

I let the pudding cool quite a long time, actually chilling in the fridge. True confessions here, I had some doubts about my success with this recipe the whole way through — my dough seemed too dry (which is typical for the climate in my kitchen); my caramel seemed too dark (though it did seem to be the dark amber described in the instructions); and my pudding seemed too thin (but perhaps it was not supposed to be super stiff…who knows?). My insecurities were somewhat silenced when I dipped a finger into the pudding…oh, boy, like the best buttery, toffee taste to throw me back to those stovetop comfort sessions!

The little oatmeal shells released easily from their pans, and the butterscotch filling added a creamy gold contrast. Instead of using crushed Butterfingers, I went slightly “rogue” here by topping the tarts with Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits, which I thought would add an extension of the filling flavor, as well as a nice crunch.

These tarts are yummy little beauties, rich in an earthy way. The tender, yet sturdy shells and rich caramelesque filling matched each other perfectly. But I could see these crusts under any number of tart fillings (apple butter, cream cheese, chocolate fudge). And the buttery butterscotch pudding, I could eat from a saucepan all by itself (and myself), much like I did long ago. Perfect for anyone longing for butterscotch days.
Blogger’s Note: I omitted the whiskey in this recipe.

Comments are closed.