butterscotch pudding dirt cups

It is October 8th, which, in most other years, would mean that sugar beet harvest is about halfway done. I’d be making my grocery lists and putting together recipes for the end of harvest party and waiting for Eggboy to give me the go ahead to start prepping the brisket and baking the cakes. The light at the end of the sleep deprived tunnel would be near and visions of Thanksgiving in sunny Florida would be filling up our brains. 

But this year is not like other years!

Winter came so unfashionably early, with two snowfalls already and an expected four inches of snow on Wednesday, that harvest has been at a total standstill for almost a week. It’s wild! I’ve never seen so much October Eggboy before in my life. We’ve been eating lunch together, we went to an art fest this weekend, and tonight we’re making squash soup! We’re cramming in all of the fun fall things now because as soon as the ground dries, it will be back to crazy harvest hours. At this point though, it’s really hard to tell when that will be. All of my fingers and toes are crossed that when harvest can get back up and running it will run smoothly, and that this insane weather delay hasn’t caused too much of a raucous. 

And, ok, I’m not that superstitious, but I meant to post these sugar beet butterscotch pudding dirt cups last week as a celebration of the beginning of harvest but because of my quick bop out to New York I couldn’t get to it until the weather shutdown, so I never posted my annual beginning of harvest sugar beet thing and what if I jinxed it??? What if I disrupted the tradition and that set a wave of bad luck into the air and mother nature was like screw it, we’re going in?? 

Or maybe I’m giving too much power to marzipan shaped into beets. 

This pudding is just one of the many beet-centric sweets that I made this year in celebration of harvest. Our deep freeze right now is packed with sugar beet cookies, cupcakes, blondies, and donuts, waiting to be defrosted for all of the drivers and other folks who help out this time of year. Most of these sweets were made from old standby recipes but I made this pudding as the new official 2018 harvest dessert.

Growing up, butterscotch pudding was always Stoopie’s thing, and it turns out that Eggboy is also a butterscotch person, so I’m going to attribute this to the fact that Stoopie and E-boy both have November birthdays. The November birthstone is kind of butterscotch-esque in some lights? I think I wasn’t too into butterscotch when I was little because it tends to be so cloyingly sweet and one-noted but when Eggboy suggested it with these cute little marzipan beets I couldn’t say no. 

So I brainstormed and brainstormed and somehow came across a very specific lightly caramelized flavor with a fuzzy mouthfeel that was buried deep somewhere in my memory. It occurred to me that I’d had what I wanted in a butterscotch pudding, I just needed to remember where. I sat on my couch, listing everywhere I could have eaten this thing I was thinking of, and a few more thinks later realized that I was dreaming of the pumpkin pie filling that Eggboy totally nailed last year at Thanksgiving. Up front it was creamy and milky, and it was backed up by a faint yet complex caramel flavor. It was very lightly spiced because he couldn’t find most of the spices in my mom’s house and he used Sarah’s recipe but made a few substitutions, namely he substituted more heavy cream for crème fraiche because he wasn’t confident enough in his pronunciation of crème fraiche to ask what it was or if we had it. I realize that pumpkin pie filling is not butterscotch pudding but there are so many similarities that I’d have been remiss not to use that as inspiration. So I tinkered with that filling and came up with this pudding. It doesn’t have pumpkin, but it does have brown sugar which gets caramelized, so that makes this butterscotch. (Did you know that?? Caramelized white sugar = caramel, caramelized brown sugar = butterscotch.) 

The rest of the ingredients, mainly the spices and the maple syrup, contribute to making this one helluva a butterscotch pudding. Does it need the cookie dirt and marzipan sugar beets buried within? No. But it needs a topping, something crunchy like a cookie or pie crust crumble would work, or a dollop of fresh whip, and perhaps a sprinkle of flaky salt. Oooooh yeah. Consider me a butterscotch pudding convert. 

butterscotch pudding dirt cups

serves 8


1/4 c (56g) unsalted butter

½ c (100g) brown sugar

¼ c (50g) granulated sugar

¼ c (78g) maple syrup

¾ tsp kosher salt

2 1/2 c (600g) heavy cream

½ c (118g) whole milk

2 tb (14g) cornstarch

3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

To decorate:


Crushed chocolate cookies

Marzipan and rosemary “sugar beets”


Combine butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple syrup, and salt in a large heavy pot, stirring until it begins to bubble, and then stop stirring. Cook over medium high for 7-8 minutes, until it turns a dark amber color and begins to smoke slightly. Carefully add heavy cream and whole milk (it will get a lil wild when you pour this in) and stir gently until the caramel melts back down (it will firm up when the milk goes in). Reduce heat to medium. In a separate heat safe bowl, whisk together cornstarch, eggs, and egg yolks. When the milk/caramel mixture is steaming, add a ladle of it to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously, and then pour the egg mixture into the pudding while whisking. Whisk continuously for a few minutes, until it thickens. When it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat and add vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour into serving glasses, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, until cool and set. 

To serve top with sprinkles, crushed chocolate cookies, and hide some marzipan beets in the cookie dirt.

pistachio butter pudding pops

“dirty pop” has been stuck in my head all weekend, except all of the dirties have been replaced with “puddin” because it’s #popsicleweek and our lunch table* made pudding pops!!! 

*the imaginary lunch table of stephanie, lily, alana, michelle, and me. and by lunch table i mean group text thread, which is kind of the same thing when you spend all of your time at home in matchy sweats. 

we’re making pudding pops because pudding is a delicious, underrated food, and it’s kind of like grapes in that it’s good right out of the refrigerator but great right out of the freezer. the change color popsicles and those siamese popsicles were super cool but i’ve always always preferred creamy pudding pops, so i’m extra excited about this popsicle week. and if one side effect of our flooding the internet with pudding pop recipes is that bill cosby isn’t the first result when you google image search “pudding pop,” i’ll consider that a victory. 

this recipe is based on these peanut butter graham cracker pudding pops from a few years back and inspired by my favorite jell-o pudding flavor growing up. does anyone else think it’s kind of quirky that no matter how basic the grocery store is, the jell-o mix section always has the very non-basic flavor of pistachio? it’s like chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, and butterscotch. the four main flavors in life. stoop was all about butterscotch. i liked green. and when i got my wisdom teeth out i was mad that i couldn’t have the nutty bits in the pistachio pudding so mum made me basil infused pudding. i was so drugged up but i remember that as being a great consolation pudding!

this pistachio pudding is special because it is made with pistachio ~butter~, something that is always left out of the nut butter aisle. (how is it that the nut butter aisle is less hip than the pudding aisle?) but it’s ok because that’s what food processors are for. you put the pistachios in, you turn it on, you check instagram for 5 or 10 minutes, and then magically all of the nuts have let their oils out and what was once a pile of nuts is now a creamy butter. it makes these pops so creamy that they don’t really want to let go of any popsicle molds, so my solution is to make them in little paper dixie cups that you rip off right before enjoying. chocolate dip is optional. sprinkles are not. and a good food processor is required. if you don’t have one you can try and hunt down pre-made pistachio butter or simply sub the pistachio butter for 1/2 cup of another nut butter or…tahini????

anywho, happy #popsicleweek everyone!!! thanks to billy for putting together yet another fantastic celebration of summer!! check out all of the participating popsicles here, and definitely check out the other pudding pops at our lunch table:

stephanie made carrot cake pudding pops with cream cheese pudding which sounded so good and made me want to put labneh in mine but then i ate all the labneh in the house. 

lily made banana pudding pops which i am not going to eat because bananas are the devil but i want you to eat them if bananas are not your devil.

alana made matcha azuki pudding pops which she swore would turn out ugly but i knew that they would not be.

michelle made strawberry pudding pops that have yellow cake in them!!! gotta hide these from eggboy otherwise he will start foaming at the mouth. 

pistachio butter pudding pops

makes 6 (3 ounce) pudding popsicles


1 c (128g) roasted unsalted pistachios

1 tb cornstarch

1 1/2 c (340g) + 2 tb whole milk

3/4 c (150g) granulated sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

Zest of 1/2 a lemon


Sprinkles (i used these)


Optional: melted chocolate stirred with a bit coconut oil for dipping 


First, make the pistachio butter. In a food processor, blend the pistachios, scraping the sides occasionally, until very creamy and spreadable, about 5-10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of milk to make a slurry. Set it aside.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the remaining milk, sugar, salt, vanilla, almond extract, and pistachio butter and heat over medium heat, whisking often. When it begins to steam, whisk in the cornstarch slurry and continue whisking for a few minutes until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the lemon zest and remove it from heat. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Spoon into 6 (3-ounce) paper cups. Top with sprinkles, place popsicle sticks into the centers and freeze until firm, about 5 hours or overnight.

Optional: once popsicles are frozen, melt about a cup of chocolate chips in a double boiler and stir in a tablespoon of coconut oil. Let it cool to room temp. rip the paper cups off of the popsicles and dip them in the chocolate. Serve or stick em right back in the freezer. 


p.s. shoutout to pudding skin singles