Brown Butterscotch Pie Recipe
Browning butter (as opposed to just melting it) is one of those simple adjustments that make the ordinary extraordinary. We changed the classic butterscotch pie by letting the butter and sugar cook longer and therefore give the whole pie a toasty, nutty flavor that balances the sweetness of the caramel.
What to buy: Take the time to make the dough from scratch, as it will lend a flaky butteriness to the dish. Of course, if you are time-constrained (and we understand that), go ahead and use store-bought crust. Just try to get the best you can find.
You’ll need parchment paper or aluminum foil and pie weights to line and weigh down the crust so that it doesn’t puff up while cooking. If you don’t have pie weights or forgot to get them, just use some dried beans.
Game plan: The dough can be made and baked up to a day ahead of time. In fact, the whole pie can be made up to a day ahead of time and, after it has cooled to room temperature, it can be covered and put in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Just bring it to room temperature and then serve it with some whipped cream or ice cream.
This recipe was featured in our 2006 Thanksgiving, Southern Style menu.
- 1 recipe Basic Pie Dough, refrigerated
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 9 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out into a round approximately 12 inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Line a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate with the dough and trim off excess. Pierce the base of the crust with a fork, line with a piece of parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
- Bake until it starts to set, about 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper, and continue to bake until dry and slightly brown, another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and keep oven at 350°F. (For a short tutorial on making pie crust, check out our video.)
- Combine vanilla bean and seeds (or vanilla extract, if using) with whole milk and heavy cream in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once simmering, remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, in a medium pot over medium heat, melt butter and add 1/2 cup of the dark brown sugar. Mix briefly and cook until mixture bubbles and there is a toasted smell (the butter should be brown but not burnt), about 5 minutes. Carefully whisk in hot milk mixture and remove from heat to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Whisk together 1/4 cup dark brown sugar with egg yolks and cornstarch until it is well blended and whisk leaves a trail when lifted out of mixture, about 3 minutes. Scrape down bowl and, whisking constantly, slowly pour in 1/3 of milk base to egg yolks until well combined. Add egg mixture back to remaining milk and return the pot to stovetop over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture coats back of a spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes. Set aside. (If custard filling is done before crust is ready, place in a clean bowl and set over an ice water bath to cool.)
- Fill parbaked pie crust with the butterscotch mixture and bake until edges are set and middle still moves slightly, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set on a cooling rack until room temperature. Serve at room temperature or cold.
Beverage pairing: Hétszölö Tokaji Aszú 3 Puttonyos, Hungary. You don’t have to pronounce it, just drink it. Hungarian Tokaji is some of the richest sweet wine in the world, though this isn’t the richest style. Still, its flavors of dried fruit, nuts, honey, and brown sugar will complement the pie to create an intense, rich combination.