You are going to love the nostalgic, deliciousness of this butterscotch pie with brown sugar meringue. If you think you don’t like butterscotch, be prepared to change your mind! Find more of my butterscotch recipes.
This is another desperation pie–pies pie loving folks used to dream up in the dead of winter when there was no fruit around for apple pie or berry pie. These comforting, easy-to-make pies draw their ingredient lists from pantry staples and from other ingredients that would be readily available, such as milk and butter from their cows and eggs from their chickens.
Here are some more desperation pie recipes for you, some of which might be familiar and some of which might be new to you. The fun thing about them is you probably have all (or nearly all) of the ingredients you need to make these guys right now:
Butterscotch pie might be one of my favorite desperation pies, although it’s hard for me to pick One favorite since I’m all about a custard pie! If you think you don’t like butterscotch, I submit to you that you have never had real butterscotch. Butterscotch candy was originally made with equal parts sugar and butter with 1/4 part of molasses, all cooked together with enough salt to make it taste amazing. Depending on how long you cook that mixture, you can end up with a sauce, a chewy candy, or a hard candy. Butterscotch pudding (spoiler: butterscotch pie is just butterscotch pudding poured into a pre-baked pie shell) takes a shortcut by using dark brown sugar (these days, refined white sugar with molasses added in) and butter cooked together until bubbling and maybe just starting to smoke a bit. Add to that some dairy, eggs for richness and thickening, and starch for even more thickening power, and you have an easily-made dessert that can be served in bowls as pudding or in a pie crust as, well, pie.
As my base of my pie, I used this recipe for butterscotch pudding from The Kitchn and then just poured it into a pre-baked crust, let it set up for a bit, spread it with some tasty brown sugar meringue, browned it up under the broiler, and then chilled it. And the best thing? I didn’t have quite enough room in my pie shell for all the filling, so I got to have a little bowl of butterscotch pudding all to myself! Yay!
Let’s Make Some Butterscotch Pie
If you have only ever had butterscotch from boxed pudding or in store-bought butterscotch sauce, I can understand why you think you don’t like the flavor. But give this true butterscotch custard a try, and I think you will change your mind!
Click to find more old fashioned pie recipes.
For the Filling
- 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, (I used Morton's)
- 20 oz whole milk, (2 1/2 cups)
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 oz unsalted butter, (1/2 stick)
- 6 oz dark brown sugar, 3/4 cup, tightly packed
- 8 oz heavy cream, (1 cup)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 9" pie shell, baked, NOT deep-dish
For the Brown Sugar Meringue
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, (I used Morton's)
- 6 oz brown sugar (dark or light), (3/4 cup, tightly packed)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Filling
- Whisk together the cornstarch, salt, whole milk, and egg yolks until smooth. Set aside convenient to the stove.
- In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter.
- Add the brown sugar and stir together until all the sugar is moistened.
- Cook over medium heat until the butter/sugar mixture is boiling, stirring frequently with a long-handled wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula.
- As soon as the butter/sugar mixture barely starts to smoke, carefully pour in the heavy cream. It will bubble up and spatter. The sugar will seize up into a hard mass. Worry not. Continue to cook and stir, switching to a whisk to make things a bit easier, until the sugar melts back into the cream.
- Once the mixture is smooth again, pour about half of it into the egg mixture, whisking all the while. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pan.
- Cook over medium to medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Do not slack on this part, or the pudding will not set up correctly. 2 full minutes. Set a timer.
- Strain the pudding through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla. Fill the prepared pie shell so it is full up to the crimped edge. Set for a few minutes while you make the meringue.
To Make the Meringue
- In a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water, whisk the whites, salt, and brown sugar together until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is very hot--about 165F.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and beat on medium speed with a hand mixer until the mixture thickens somewhat and lightens in color.
- Add the vanilla and beat on high speed until the tips of the meringue just curl over a bit at the ends when you hold the beaters upright.
- Dollop the finished meringue onto the pie filling and carefully spread it out so it completely covers the filling and meets the crust all the way around.
- Using an offset spatula, press it onto the meringue and then lift straight up to make swoops and peaks if you'd like.
- Place under the broiler, watching it carefully, or use a torch to brown your meringue. Chill overnight before serving. Share. Or don't. Enjoy!
If you are not feeling pie today, just pour the filling mixture into little (or not so little) bowls and serve individually, topped with some of the meringue or just with some lightly sweetened brown sugar whipped cream
And that’s it friends. A comforting, homey pie that will make you feel like you’re at grandma’s, if your grandma was a good pie maker!
Enjoy the pie (or pudding). Thank you for spending some time with me today. Have a lovely day.