Butterscotch Pudding Tarts

April 20, 2011

Remember Snack Pack pudding?  I guess that question isn’t a huge stretch because it is still around.  The packaging looks nothing like it did when it sat in my Donny and Marie lunchbox, just waiting to be eaten with a plastic spoon.  I thought that pudding, chocolate flavor only please, was the best thing about  bringing lunch to school.  I didn’t get it every day but it was a happy day when I did.

Graham, my kindergartner, has never heard of Snack Pack pudding and I’m pretty sure, up until recently, he had never had pudding at all.  In case you think that is because I don’t give him sweets, or I only give him whole grain treats or even just homemade treats, you would be mistaken.  I am liberal with my sweet giving.  This is another post for another time, but suffice it to say that while I prefer him to eat things that I have made, the lure of Halloween/Valentine’s Day/Easter candy can be great.  I do try to draw the line at certain things (which would probably seem arbitrary to a more strict mother), and pudding that does not have to be refrigerated and is full of things I can’t pronounce is one of those lines.

While pudding is not a dessert that pops into my mind with any regularity, it certainly has its place.  Comfort food at its most comfortable.  And how about if the pudding is butterscotch and sitting inside a tart shell?  Mini tart shells?  Not long ago, I purchased 24 mini tart pans.  At 79 cents a pop this was not a huge investment.  And they have allowed me to make super cute appetizers and desserts.  I had no problem getting 24 rounds of dough out of the recipe and I actually had some pudding left over once they were all filled.  I filled two small bowls with the butterscotch pudding and gave it to my boys.  Neither of them liked it.

By the way, who was on your favorite lunchbox?

One Year Ago:  Zucchini and Olive Salad
Two Years Ago:  Mississippi Mud Cupcakes

Butterscotch Pudding Tarts
Makes 8 (4-inch) tarts or 24 mini tarts

Below is the recipe as written for the larger tarts.

For the oat wheat pie crust
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup (½ stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
¼ cup milk

For the butterscotch pudding
6 large egg yolks
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 tsp. salt
3 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. whiskey

To assemble
1 Butterfinger candy bar, broken into small pieces

Make the oat wheat pie crust
Put the rolled oats in a food processor and process for about 30 seconds, until ground but not powdered.  Add the flours, brown sugar, and salt and pulse until combined.

Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are small and the dough looks crumbly, like coarse sand.  Add the milk and pulse for a few seconds..

Scoop the dough out of the food processor and form it into a large disk.  Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

Dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour.  Unwrap the disk of chilled dough and put it directly on the work surface.  Cut the dough into eight equal pieces, about 2 ounces each, and gently shape each piece into a smooth disk.  The dough will be sticky.  Make sure to turn the dough over (use a spatula or a bench knife) as needed and keep the working surface floured.  Put the dough disks in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a 6-inch round just over 1/8-inch thick.  Place a round over a 4-inch tart pan and very gently press the dough into the pan.  Roll the rolling pin over the pan to trim off excess.  Repeat with the remaining dough rounds.

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.  Put the tarts pans in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Remove the tarts pans from the freezer and arrange on a baking sheet and gently prick the dough with a fork.  Bake on the baking sheet until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.  Transfer the tart pans to wire racks and let cool completely.

Make the butterscotch pudding
Put the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.  (DT: I find it helpful here to put a damp paper towel under the bowl with the yolks.  That way, when you go to whisk it later, the bowl stays still on your counter.  I do the same thing when making ice cream.)

In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and ¼ cup water and stir gently with a heatproof spatula; do not splash the sides of the pan.  Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, then increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the mixture begins to turn a dark amber color.  Swirl the pan, if necessary, to create an even color, but do not stir.  Remove from the heat, let stand for 1 minute, then use the heatproof spatula to stir in the cream.  Pour the caramel into a small bowl.  Set aside.

In another small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Stir in the milk and whisk to combine.

Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and, using the tip of the knife or a small teaspoon, scrape the seeds into the saucepan with the milk.  Add the vanilla bean to the milk as well.  Cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the caramel.  Whisk together until combined, then pour one third of the mixture over the eggs.  Keep whisking the egg mixture and add another third of the hot milk mixture.  Transfer the egg mixture back to the saucepan with the milk mixture and, whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until very thick.

Remove from the heat and add the butter and whiskey.  Keep whisking vigorously for about 1 minute to cool the pudding slightly.  Let the pudding sit for about 15 minutes, then remove the vanilla bean.

Assemble the tarts
Whisk the pudding one more time until smooth.  Divide the pudding equally among the tart shells and sprinkle the crumbled candy bar over the pudding.  Cover the tarts with plastic wrap and put the in the refrigerator for about 2 hours before serving.

The tarts can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


  1. I’ve made these before, they are really yummy!

    Comment by peabody — April 20, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

  2. Butterscotch is one of my favorite all-time flavors and you had me the second I realized that is crushed up Butterfinger on top. Have to try this one.

    I also had a Donny & Marie lunchbox. :)

    Comment by Erika K — April 20, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

  3. Oh those snack packs. We had the jello ones. Sometimes. If we were lucky. I’m pretty sure that I had a beauty and the beast lunchbox. It was very pink and I loved it very much.

    I love pudding but these days, homemade is most certainly the way to go. I’ve begun to realize that I can taste aspartame from a mile away and those snack packs contain a TON of it! I’m much rather have the infinitely more real tasting homemade version. And butterscotch could never fail to please!

    Comment by Joanne — April 21, 2011 @ 12:08 am

  4. Love these! Once again, I will be making your recipe for an upcoming party.

    Comment by Maris (In Good Taste) — April 21, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  5. Years ago, I attempted to make a butterscotch pie, and it didn’t turn out well. I complained about it to my mom who then told me my grandmother’s favorite thing was butterscotch pie and she liked it topped with meringue. I’ve had that in the back of my mind since then, and I’ve been trying to find a really good butterscotch pudding recipe to use for the pie. Two I’ve tried were just so-so. Then, I forgot about it for a while. Thanks for the reminder about butterscotch pudding, and now I have to grab that book try this one!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — April 21, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  6. I hear you about drawing a line – even though it may seem completely arbitrary to an outsider. My boy is not a fan of butterscotch either. His fav is chocolate too. These tarts look yummy.

    Comment by Charlotte — April 22, 2011 @ 2:51 am

  7. I’m not a huge pudding fan though I like it in small doses like these. In an attempt to get more milk/calcium into my girls, I tried making the Shirriff cooked chocolate pudding and ended up eating most of it myself – guess the girls aren’t big fans either.
    I really liked my brother’s Snoopy lunchbox.

    Comment by Luann — April 22, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

  8. I’ve been looking for a recipe like this for ages. It looks delicious.ty

    Comment by Legume — April 22, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

  9. totally a good investment. I love mini things. These are so cute and a great place for pudding. I’ve always thought it needed a little crunch contrast, so this looks perfect. I loved fruit snacks – things like fruit by the foot, fruit roll ups…we didn’t get them often, but when we did, I coveted those little snacks!

    Comment by sara — April 22, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

  10. OMG..you had a Donny and Marie lunchbox??? I almost piddles in my pants. I was not that adventurous, I had care bares and strawberry shortcakeThat is some funny stuff! These look delish.

    Comment by leslie — April 23, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

  11. I had a purple Donny and Marie lunch box. I was very sad that I wasn’t able to get the Partridge Family.
    Pudding is one of my favorite deserts, though I don’t think about making it often.

    Comment by kim — April 26, 2011 @ 4:41 am

  12. HOLY MOLY the title of this post just made my heart skip a beat! Looks amazing.

    Comment by Laura — July 28, 2011 @ 6:10 am

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    […] whisking the egg mixture and add another third of the hot milk mixture.  Trans […]

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