Gonna Top a Tart with a Butterfinger: Butterscotch Pudding Tarts

My friend Dorothy and I have developed a bit of a summertime tradition where she brings over her brother Joe and his family for dessert while they are in town visiting from London. I always look forward to this event -- it's a lot of fun to host Dorothy's and Joe's families together, and everyone knows that children with British accents are utterly charming.

One of the items I made for their visit this year is the Butterscotch Pudding Tarts from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. Somehow I have not tried this recipe before now even though I love making tarts and I have owned this cookbook since 2008. But better late than never!

The tarts have an oat wheat pie crust that you make by mixing rolled oats, whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, dark brown sugar, salt, cold butter, and milk in the food processor. The recipe is written to yield eight 4-inch tarts, and you're supposed to chill the crust dough, divide the dough into eight pieces, and then chill each piece again briefly before rolling out the individual crusts. I decided to just divide the dough into eight pieces immediately after making it, because it seemed like it would be easier. I weighed out the pieces to make sure they were equal, formed each piece into a disc, wrapped them in plastic, and put them in the fridge to chill.

Rolling out the dough and getting the crusts into the tart pans wasn't difficult, and I put the dough-lined pans in the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up the crusts before baking. Then I docked the dough with a fork and baked the crusts until they were golden brown. The recipe says this should take 12-15 minutes, but my crusts were still undercooked at 15 minutes, and I ended up leaving them in the oven for a total of 35 minutes.
The first step in making the pudding is to make caramel; you cook water and sugar until the mixture turns dark amber, and then add cream. To make the pudding base, you cook dark brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk, and a vanilla bean (both the pod and the scraped seeds) until the mixture comes to a boil. Then you add in the caramel, add tempered egg yolks, and boil the mixture until it becomes very thick. You're supposed to finish off the pudding with a little butter and some whiskey -- but I skipped the whiskey. You cool the pudding slightly, remove the vanilla bean, and then pour the pudding into the cooled tart shells.

My pudding was thick enough that I had to use an offset spatula to spread it to the edges of the crusts. As suggested in the recipe, I garnished the tarts with a crushed Butterfinger candy bar. The pudding was still warm when I filled the crusts and sprinkled on the candy bar, and the Butterfinger melted a little -- if you look closely at the photo above, you can see small puddles of bright orange liquid that seeped out from the flaky peanut butter filling of the bar. I chilled the tarts for a few hours before serving.

Aside from the strange-looking Butterfinger effluent on top of the tart, I thought the tarts looked great. The crusts released easily from the pans, and the pudding was firm enough that it held its shape perfectly after the tarts were sliced. I really loved the hearty oat crust, which was nice and crisp. The pudding had a beautiful butterscotch flavor, although I thought the flavor was somewhat subdued in the chilled tart compared to when I had tasted the warm pudding right after I made it. Regardless, it's leaps and bounds above the butterscotch pudding I remember from my childhood -- which was the kind that started out as a packet of Jell-O instant pudding mix.

This would be a terrific dessert even without the crust -- the pudding alone would be a satisfying treat, especially with some Butterfinger garnish. I'm happy with the way these tarts turned out, and they were enjoyed equally by adults and children alike!

Recipe: "Butterscotch Pudding Tarts" from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.


Anonymous said…
Gorgeous! Your crusts are utter perfection! I had such a weird experience with the pudding-- how long did you cook yours? After 2-3 minutes, mine was not the slightest bit thickened, and it took 20 minutes to darken like the photo and thicken somewhat. It was more like dulce de leche than pudding. Very tasty, just strange! Anyway, your tarts are beautiful!