Butterscotch Pudding

I am a pudding lover from way back – like all the way back to Snack Packs in my lunchbox. Chocolate is probably my fave, and if there is malt in it, then all the better. But I truly enjoy all the flavors (equal opportunity pudding-lover right here), and there is no doubt that if pudding is on the menu when I am eating out, then it is 100% what I am ordering. Here’s the thing though, I don’t find myself being offered or even making butterscotch pudding all that regularly, and that is something I am here to change. 

Butterscotch pudding is made by cooking brown sugar and butter together (or, at least that is how I start mine) until bubbling. Warmed heavy cream is then added, essentially creating a caramel of sorts, except with brown sugar, instead of granulated. In fact the main difference between caramel sauce vs. butterscotch sauce, is that caramel is made with granulated sugar, and butterscotch, brown (and I just love butterscotch for that, as I am a big fan of using brown sugar in my baked goods for its molasses-y vibes, but I digress). 

Yolks, an egg, some cornstarch and milk are whisked together and used to temper the butterscotch sauce and then combined with it, and the whole mixture is cooked until bubbling (bubbles are essential to properly activate the cornstarch, which in turn thickens the pudding. A generous glug of vanilla, as well as a hefty sprinkle of kosher salt, are added (as the vanilla helps round out the burnt sugar flavors of the pudding, and the salt makes all the flavors pop) and voila: the dreamiest of butterscotch puddings. The whole shebang takes very little time and is assembled with nothing but pantry ingredients (you’re welcome) making it the perfect, “hey, I’m craving something sweet right now,” (which, for me, is basically all of the time) kind of treat. Yes, it requires some time in the fridge to firm up, but I think I should point out that warm pudding from the stovetop, eaten out of the pot with a spoon, is one of life’s greatest pleasures, FYI. So go at it: either warm or cold (with a dollop of softly whipped cream and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt), you cannot go wrong. 

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Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch pudding is made by cooking brown sugar and butter together (or, at least that is how I start mine) until bubbling. Warmed heavy cream is then added, essentially creating a caramel of sorts, except with brown sugar, instead of granulated. In fact the main difference between caramel sauce vs. butterscotch sauce, is that caramel is made with granulated sugar, and butterscotch, brown (and I just love butterscotch for that, as I am a big fan of using brown sugar in my baked goods for its molasses-y vibes, but I digress).
Recipe Author Jessie Sheehan
Course Dessert, Desserts
Cuisine Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar packed
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream warmed
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Softly whipped cream for serving
  • Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  • Combine the sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and carefully cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the butter melts, the mixture boils, and it begins smelling caramel-like. Continue stirring for 3 minutes, lowering the heat to avoid burning, until the mixture is foamy and thickens. 
  • Remove from the heat, add the cream, and stir the to combine. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, milk, yolks, and egg. Return the butter/sugar mixture to medium heat. Temper the egg mixture by adding spoonfuls of the butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Once warmed, add all of the egg mixture to the butter/sugar, increase the heat to medium-high and stir constantly until large bubbles begin popping on the surface. 
  • Continue to whisk for 45 to 60 seconds. Remove pot from heat and strain if lumpy. Add the vanilla and salt and pour pudding into six 6-ounce ramekins.  Place plastic wrap directly on top of the individual puddings to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. 
  • Serve with softly whipped cream and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt. 

Key Lime Loaf Cake

This cake has a story. So, although I am dying to jump right in with flowery descriptions of just how fab it tastes and how easy-peasy it is to assemble, bake and glaze, I think a little info as to how it came to be is in order. What follows is essentially how I ended up developing a key lime cake and I’m still tickled pink (lime-green? Sorry . . .) by it all. So please sit back (ie: stop scrolling) and listen up – it’s a fun one. (and I promise: I’ll be brief).

I published a recipe for lemon snacking cake, to no one’s surprise, I’m sure, as I love snacking cakes and frequently turn to lemon to flavor my treats in the winter. I posted a pic and a link to the recipe on Instagram (as one is won’t to do) and included my location: Red Hook, Brooklyn. Well, my neighbor, the famous Steve of Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie, happens to pay attention when folks tag Red Hook, and he reached out to me. He dug the lemon snacking cake, he explained, and wanted to know if I’d like to try a lime version.

Well, long story short, he invited me to his key lime pie making factory, gave me a quart of freshly squeezed key lime juice, a paper bag full of key limes and proceeded to teach me everything I’ve ever wanted to know about key limes. Then he sent me on my merry way. I went home, created a key lime tea cake and am feeling awfully pleased, just sayin’.

The cake (as alluded to above) is super simple to assemble. Yes, it’s true, the prep was particularly easy for me, as the lovely Steve (and his equally lovely wife, Victoria) gave me freshly squeezed juice with which to work. But squeezing your own is not so painful. However, if you just cannot bear the thought of squeezing the tiny (but, oh so delicious – floral, juicy and otherworldly, frankly) key limes, by all means use Persian ones. I promise I won’t tell Steve . . . The recipe is practically one-bowl and the cake bakes in about 45 minutes. I love to finish the cake with a lime and confectioners’ sugar glaze because it’s tart and sweet and pretty. But you can leave it out of you wish.

Two final cake tips: the cake sinks just slightly when you pull it from the oven – do not be alarmed – and I give you the option of including lime zest in the cake – but again if you do not want to zest key limes (or even Persian ones) by all means leave it out.

Okay, story time is over. Now Please go make cake.

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Key Lime Loaf Cake

Recipe Author Jessie Sheehan

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp key (or Persian) lime-zest optional
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 6 tbsp freshly squeezed key (or Persian) lime juice
  • 6 tbsp buttermilk

For the Key Lime Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar sifted if lumpy
  • 1 2/3 tbsp freshly squeezed key (or Persian) lime juice

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or softened butter. Line it with a strip of parchment paper that covers the pan's bottom and goes up the two shortest sides.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and the zest, if using, and with your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and oil and whisk to blend. Add the egg and yolk, one at a time, whisking after each. 
  • Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, and using a flexible spatula, very gently fold the dry into the wet.
  • Add the buttermilk, another 1/3 of the dry, the juice, and then the final third of the dry, gently folding to incorporate after each addition. 
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs. The cake will sink slightly when you remove it from the oven. 
  • Set the loaf pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool until you are able to touch the pan with your bare hands. While the cake cools, make the glaze. 
  • Place the confectioners’ sugar in a small  bowl along with the lime juice and whisk vigorously until smooth. 
  • Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely. Pour the glaze over the cake and let rest until the glaze is set.
  • The cake is super moist and will keep tightly covered at room temp for 3 to 5 days. This cake is one of those that tastes even better on day two, if it indeed lasts that long . . . 

Apple Cranberry Crisp

If there is a more perfect (and gorgeous) dessert for fall – and everyone’s fave holiday (aka Thanksgiving) – than an apple cranberry crisp, well, I have yet to be introduced. First, it is easy to assemble, calling for ingredients that are already in your pantry and not a stitch of special equipment. Second, it is delicious and comforting and texturally exciting – I mean maybe I don’t get out enough, but crispy, sweet, buttery, oaty bits a top soft juicy fruit?? Sign me up. Third, it takes about 5 minutes to prepare – a little longer to cut the apples – and only 45 minutes to bake (in short, this all translates into dessert on the table in less than an hour. You’re welcome). And finally, the cranberries contribute to making this one of the prettiest desserts in the land, as the juices that bubble up around the edges and those that pool a bit in the dish once served, are quite literally the most beautiful garnet in color. I mean fruit-topped crisps and crumbles will always fall into the simple dessert category, but sometimes they get a little back-burner’ed – however, this apple cranberry number is going to change all that. 

Now, before I do a deep-dive into why this crisp is so darn special, you may be wondering what the difference is between a crisp and a crumble and although if you asked me “off-line” I’d say zilch, the internet will tell you differently. In short, when you google this age old query, you find that although both desserts are comprised of baked-fruit, topped with something buttery and sweet, crisp toppings call for oats and crumble toppings – you guessed it – do not. 

And because I am a rule-follower, this crisp does indeed call for oats in the topping and they really do contribute delightful crispiness to it. However, I call for quick-cooking ones here, for the oaty (crispy) feels they impart, but without the “health food restaurant” vibes that some oat toppings give me. But you do you – old fashioned oats will 100% work here. My topping here also calls for melted butter, as opposed to cold, because assembling a crisp with melted butter takes about a minute, and assembling one by cutting cold butter into the sugar and flour does not (ie: using melted butter is a time-saver). The results are the same, however, so if you’d rather use cold butter, go for it. And a note about melting and cooling butter: in order to save additional time spent waiting for the butter to cool, only melt it until a few large chunks of butter remain – then whisk those chunks in by hand.

Finally the apple and cranberry filling is a complete no-brainer. I just ask that you whisk the dry ingredients first, before adding the apples and cranberries, so they evenly coat your fruit. Oh, and I like my apples in half-moon wedges that are sliced in half or even thirds – just a personal preference (I dig bite-sized pieces). However, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it again: if you are an apple-wedge peep from way back, then wedge it is. Hoping this cutie gets a coveted spot at your dessert table this November, if not before (and after) – as she’s just a straight-up keeper.

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Apple Cranberry Crisp

Recipe Author Jessie Sheehan
Course Dessert
Cuisine Crumble
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Servings 10 people

Ingredients

For the apples:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (99 grams)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch cloves
  • 4 medium apples (a scant 2 pounds, 850 grams), such as Granny Smith, peeled and cored and cut into ½-inch wedges
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (198 grams)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

For the crisp topping:

  • 3/4 cup  all-purpose flour (90  grams)
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats (22 grams)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar (213 grams)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (113 grams)
  • Heavy cream for drizzling

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 1 1/2 to 2 liter baking dish, oval-shaped, with cooking spray or softened butter.
  • To prepare filling, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, and cloves ina large bowl. Stir in the apples, cranberries, and lemon juice with flexible spatula and transfer the apples and cranberries to the pan.
  • To make the crisp, whisk all of the dry ingredients in the same bowl in which you just prepared the filling. No need to clean it first. Pour the butter into the dry ingredients and stir with a flexible spatula until clumps form. Generously sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 45 minutes until the juices bubble up on the sides, the topping is lightly browned, and the juices are bubbling underneath it in the center, when you poke at it a bit with a wooden skewer.
  • Let it cool about 15 minutes before serving with a drizzle of heavy cream. The crisp will keep tightly wrapped on the counter for up to 3 days.