Saturday, December 17, 2011

Butterscotch Cream Pie

With winter upon us here in Chicago, I thought it might be a good time to return to the topic of butterscotch pie.  You may recall that in my 2010 master recipe post on cream pie, I mentioned I was looking for a new recipe for the butterscotch version.  While I didn't get any recommendations, I did get a question asking what the difference was between butterscotch and caramel cream pies. 

Master Recipe with Nestle, Butterscotch Morsels
Technically caramel is made with white granulated sugar that has been melted until it is golden brown.  Butterscotch is made with brown sugar and butter.  The flavors are similar but not identical.  However, many cooks use the terms interchangeably.  Martha Stewart has a delicious recipe for butterscotch cream pie with ginger snap crust, but I would argue that it is caramel, not butterscotch.    No one really knows where the term 'butterscotch' came from, but there is an interesting post here on the history of the term.

My classic recipe for butterscotch cream pie is good, but I  wondered if instead I could use my master cream pie recipe as a base and add the butterscotch flavor, as I do for chocolate or banana cream pies.  Thanks to Nestle, Butterscotch Morsels were available and the best candidate for this test.  I simply melted the butterscotch in a double boiler as indicated on the package and I used 11 ounces (a full bag) for a single pie. I've updated the master recipe with this technique if you want to try it out.  Note that because the Butterscotch Morsels are sweet, I had to reduce the sugar in the master recipe.  The result was a very creamy pie with a strong butterscotch flavor.

So I suggest you follow the master cream pie recipe as it makes a very good butterscotch cream pie, or any other of the flavors mentioned when you are in the mood for cream pie.

Pie Crust
The thing that stops most people from baking pies is the crust.  This pie is good with a graham cracker or ginger snap cookie crust, both of which are easy to make.  Additionally, you can simply purchase a piece of pre-made pie dough at any grocery store and you will find it is quite good.  Don't let the crust stop you from baking pies.  If you make them often, the crust will become second nature to you.  If you don't, then buy the dough and bake it in your pie plate.  However you do it, remember that when baking an unfilled shell to use a fork to provide air vents in the crust and also to use pie weights or beans on top of parchment paper during baking.  This weight will ensure that the sides of the crust do not slide down during the baking of the empty shell.

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