Day 90: Butterscotch Kahlua Puddings with Spicy Pecans
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.” – Soren Kierkegaard
Good morning friends! For any of you that gave up sweets for Lent, I apologize for posting pictures of these delicious butterscotch Kahlua puddings. But this recipe is too good not to share!! I loved butterscotch pudding as a kid. My mom made it often for dessert, using the little Jello-brand instant mixes. It was easy – add the powder, add some milk, beat with the electric beaters, and chill – so we had it often.
In recent years, I’ve found myself craving this nostaligic dessert, but couldn’t bring myself to make the powdered variety. I did a little recipe research and decided to create my own version, from scratch. I had some Kahlua in my cabinet, so I decided to make a more “adult” version, topped with homemade whipped cream and caramelized pecans. The Kahlua took the dish to the next level, as did the crunchy sweet-salty-spicy pecans. This has quickly catapulted to one of my all-time favorite desserts. And the best part? It can all be made completely in advance.
So why the random Kierkegaard quote at the beginning of this post? Brandon shared this with me the other day, and it really resonated with me. Putting myself out there, day after day on the blog – sharing recipes, stories, successes, and failures – has been an incredibly vulnerable experience. Even more vulnerable still has been creating a cookbook in the face of stiff competition and rather impossible odds, and daring to believe that my dream will in fact come to fruition.
Taking that first step towards a dream definitely feels a bit wobbly (as Kierkegaard points out), because you’re suddenly walking on new terrain. But don’t worry: that feeling doesn’t last long. It’s the courageous act of taking the step – from comfort into the unknown – that’s the hardest part. But once you’ve done it, the possibilities are endless. I mean, I’m 90 days into this cookbook project, which just seems incredible to me. The photos are nearly done, the recipes are nearly done, and I’m working on a plan to publish a real live cookbook! It’s happening. And despite my fear of uncertainty, I’d rather lose my footing momentarily than lose myeslf.
What about you? Is there something you’re longing to do, but find that first step hard to take? It’s easy to tell ourselves all the reasons why we can’t do something, or why now’s not the right time, but what if you allowed yourself to think of all the reasons why you should pursue your dream? I’ll leave you with one last question – one that Brene Brene shared in the last class of her course. You’ve probably heard the quote “What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?” Well, Brene had a different take on it, which I think is way better: “What’s worth doing even IF you fail?” Think about it: what for you, is worth doing, even if you fail? And is there a dream that means so much to you that, if you don’t go after it, you risk losing yourself? Big questions, but I’d love to hear your thoughts…
(Photos by Signe Birck)
BUTTERSCOTCH KAHLUA PUDDING WITH SPICY PECANS
(This recipe may look intimidatingly long, but it’s honestly easy once you get started. And the end result is definitely worth the effort!!)
Makes 6 – 8 servings
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Kahlua
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup pecan pieces
Sea salt, to taste
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the pudding, bring the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan; remove from the heat. Melt the butter in skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the sugar and increase the heat to medium high; cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is golden brown and nutty smelling. Keep a close eye on the mixture, as it can easily burn!!
Remove from the heat and gradually pour the sugar mixture into the warm milk, whisking constantly. (If the mixture is clumpy, pour through a fine sieve or blend in a blender.)
Place the egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the milk mixture, then whisk in the cornstarch and salt until dissolved. Add the constarch mixture back into the hot milk mixture in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 2 to 3 minutes. (You’ll know it’s ready when the whisk leaves a trail through the pudding.)
Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and Kahlua. Pour into 8 small custard cups or ramekins. Place a piece of plastic wrap over each, pressing it lightly onto the pudding surface and chill overnight.
For the spicy pecans, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, brown sugar, cayenne, and olive oil. Add the pecans and stir to combine. Dump onto a baking sheet and season with sea salt.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring midway through, until golden brown and beginning to crisp. Cool on a cooling rack until crisp and room temperature. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
For the whipped cream, beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla on high for 2 to 3 minutes with handheld beaters until medium peaks form. (The test for this is: turn off the beaters and pull them out of the whipped cream. Peaks should form and gently fold over once the beaters come out.)
TO SERVE: remove the plastic wrap from the puddings. Dollop each one with whipped cream and sprinkle with spicy pecans. I like to put out a small bowl of pecans on the table in case people want to add more (they’re really good!).
MAKE AHEAD: The puddings can be made 2 or 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. The nuts can be made 5 days in advance. The whipped cream is best when made just before serving.