This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Butterscotch budino is a creamy Italian pudding dessert with a topping of brown sugar caramel. Make this easy recipe in just 30 minutes!
About this pudding dessert
When you experience foods across the world, you may notice that there are different names for the same dish. For example, biscuits in America are a type of soft bread with flaky, buttery layers. In the UK, biscuits are a type of cookie.
What Americans know as butterscotch pudding is known in Italy as butterscotch budino. In the UK, they often call it custard.
Difference between pudding and custard
The name difference is small in comparison to the real issue; the difference in the dessert itself. You see, pudding and custard are visually similar, and they taste similar, too. Technically though, they are different desserts.
While both desserts are made with eggs, almost all pudding recipes call for the use of a thickener such as cornstarch or flour. Although there are always exceptions, for most custard recipes, eggs are the thickener.
Difference between butterscotch and caramel
Taking those differences a step further, people also confuse butterscotch and caramel. Although they are similar, there is one primary difference between the two.
Caramel is a confection of butter and white granulated sugar, while butterscotch is butter and brown sugar. This is why butterscotch is also known as brown sugar caramel.
Butterscotch pudding ingredients + notes
You’ll also use these ingredients for the butterscotch topping.
- Dark brown sugar- If you can’t find dark brown sugar, light brown will be fine. Or, you can use molasses and white sugar to make brown sugar.
- Heavy cream- There are no acceptable substitutes for heavy cream. Using half & half works, but you will not have the thick, creamy consistency that you want in a good pudding.
- Milk- Whole milk is best, but 2% will also work.
- Eggs- for this butterscotch pudding recipe, you’ll need one whole egg and 3 egg yolks.
- Cornstarch- if you need a gluten-free option, you can use arrowroot starch.
- Unsalted butter
- Vanilla extract
- Sea salt flakes- This is sometimes called decorating salt, or Fleur de Sel, or Maldon sea salt
How to make butterscotch budino (video)
Rather than using step by step photos, here’s a short video for you. It explains how to make this recipe from start to finish.
There are 4 steps to making the dessert.
- Cook and chill the pudding.
- Make the brown sugar caramel.
- Layer the dessert.
- Chill and serve.
- Time saving tip
After making the butterscotch pudding, you’ll need to refrigerate it for at least 2 hours. To save time, you can make it up to two days ahead of time.
- Monitor the heat
Sugar burns very easily, so keep an eye on the heat. You only need enough heat to melt the butter and cook the sugar. Keep the heat below medium-high. It takes about 10 minutes to caramelize sugar.
- Thinning the butterscotch sauce
If the brown sugar caramel becomes too thick, whisking in a tablespoon of heavy cream or milk should help to thin it out.
Alternatively, place the container of butterscotch sauce in a saucepan of hot water to loosen it. Just be careful not to fully submerge the jar under the water. Whisk the sauce to smooth it out, then immediately pour some sauce over each individual butterscotch budino.
- Storing the desserts
Keep the budinos in the refrigerator and enjoy them within 3 days. Place a layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil over each one. This helps to prevent the dessert from absorbing odor from nearby ingredients. You could also put the lids back on if using these Mini Tulip Jelly Jar with Glass Lids like I do.
- Combine the heavy cream and milk and set aside.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat, stir the brown sugar, a half cup of water and the salt. Cook until the sugar is melted and smells caramelized, 10 minutes.
- Immediately whisk in the cream and milk mixture (the mixture will steam and the butterscotch will seize, but it will become smooth again with continued whisking).
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn heat to low.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Add 1 cup of the hot butterscotch mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk egg mixture back into the remaining butterscotch.
- Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until the custard is very thick, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to scorch the bottom of the mixture and custard thickens.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. At this stage you can either use a blending wand/stick tp puree to smooth OR strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps. Divide among eight 6-ounce ramekins, 7 ounce custard jars or serving bowls. I use these Mini Tulip Jelly Jar with Glass Lids.
- Allow to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled, 2-3 hours.
Brown Sugar Caramel (Butterscotch Sauce)
- Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the brown sugar, salt, vanilla and heavy cream and stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until it's well blended. Bring the mixture to a boil, scraping down the sides occasionally, and boil it for 4 to 5 minutes. Mixture should no longer be grainy, but smooth.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer the butterscotch sauce to a container to cool slightly. If butterscotch thickens too much see Note 2.
- Top each butterscotch custard with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the warm butterscotch sauce and a pinch of the sea salt flakes.
- I use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes or Fluer de sel.
- If the butterscotch thickens too much, add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream and whisk to a smoother consistency OR place container holding butterscotch in a saucepan of hot water to loosen, being careful not to full submerge and allow water to touch butterscotch. Whisk to smooth out sauce and then pour immediately over custards.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.