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Broody and intense, butterscotch pie is perfect for the season

| Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011

While the fruity pies of summer are perfectly acceptable, I must admit that I'm a winter pie kind of girl. Give me pumpkin, sweet potato and pecan over berries any day. So, when a colleague recently asked me to make "something with butterscotch," I didn't have to think too hard about it.

There's a bevy of butterscotch-pie recipes floating around the food world. Trust me, I know. I've made (and eaten) my fair share of them. And while I love a cool butterscotch cream pie in the summer, I really crave a dark and rich pie when winter's on its way — a broody pie with the intense flavors of nutty browned butter and sugary-sweet caramel.

This old Southern favorite is a great way to celebrate the season. Add a splash of bourbon, and you've got yourself a party. Whether you bring this butterscotch pie to a fall festival or serve it on your holiday table, it's guaranteed to wrap you in warmth.

Browned Butter Butterscotch Pie

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon whiskey
  • 1 standard piecrust, blind-baked and cooled

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

To prepare the filling: In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add the brown sugar to the butter and cook until the sugar is completely melted and a paste is formed.

Combine the evaporated milk and regular milk, and pour into the butter-sugar mixture. Bring to a simmer, and stir until it is smooth and the sugar is completely dissolved.

In a separate bowl, combine the cornstarch, flour and salt. Pour 1/2 cup of the milk-butter-sugar mixture into the cornstarch mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour the smooth-cornstarch mixture back into saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook for about 1 minute, until just thickened (cooking the cornstarch much longer can cause it to lose its thickening ability).

Stream 1/2 cup hot milk-butter-sugar mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly (this is called tempering; it prevents the yolks from curdling in the heat). Pour this mix back into the saucepan. Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then, remove from heat. Stir in the whiskey. Allow to cool until warm, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve and then, pour into the cooked piecrust.

Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Chill overnight, or until firm.

To prepare the whipped cream: In a medium-size bowl, whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer until foamy and starting to thicken. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until soft peaks are just formed.

If serving the whole pie, top with whipped cream and slice. If serving just a few pieces, slice and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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