Every so often, an old classic gains new traction at an influential restaurant, spreads to menus all over, and eventually trickles down to the home cook. Such appears to be the fate of butterscotch pudding. In 2007, chef Nancy Silverton put an Italian spin on the dessert, calling it a "budino" and topping it with caramel sauce and fleur de sel. The sweet-salty revelation inspired all sorts of tributes—including this one from chef Jeff Mahin of Stella Rosa Pizza Bar in Santa Monica, which he sets with gelatin instead of eggs for a lighter feel. Call it what you will, it is still, at its core, everything we've always loved about butterscotch pudding.
FOR THE PUDDING 2 tbsp. milk 1 tbsp. powdered gelatin 10 oz. high-quality butterscotch chips, such as Guittard 2 tbsp. bourbon 4 cups heavy cream 3 tbsp. light brown sugar 1 tbsp. sugar 1 tsp. kosher salt ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved
FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE ⅔ cup sugar 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed 3 tbsp. light corn syrup 2 ½ cups heavy cream 1 tsp. kosher salt Flaked sea salt, to taste
1. Make the pudding: Combine milk, gelatin, and 1 tbsp. water in a bowl; let sit to soften gelatin, about 5 minutes. Place butterscotch and bourbon in a blender; set aside. Boil cream, both sugars, salt, and vanilla seeds in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add gelatin mixture, and stir until gelatin dissolves. Pour into blender, let sit for 5 minutes, and purée until smooth. Divide among eight 6-oz. serving glasses. Chill until set, about 4 hours.
2. Make the caramel sauce: Heat sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cook, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber. Meanwhile, boil cream and kosher salt in a 2-qt. saucepan. Pour into caramel; cook, stirring, until smooth. Let cool; divide sauce among set pudding cups. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt before serving.