One of my enduring memories of childhood is sitting with my brother in our living room, watching old Donald Duck cartoons and eating Jello pudding pops. Only the chocolate ones, because the vanilla ones weren’t nearly as good. And when Jello stopped making them (sad!), I moved on to my next favorite frozen pudding-based treat, which involved freezing chocolate (never vanilla) pudding cups solid, then letting them thaw slightly on the counter for that signature slightly-chewy mouthfeel that you can only get from frozen pudding. It was always iffy, though, whether you’d end up with icy crystals or overly-thawed pudding, so that method was never fully satisfactory.
Well, I may not be able to get Jello-brand pudding pops anymore, but I’ve at last found the perfect replacement– homemade pudding pops. I got the recipe for the butterscotch pops from Smitten Kitchen (I swear, I should just rename this blog “Stuff from Smitten Kitchen”), and I’m going to start making these on a regular basis.
Honestly, they’re fantastic. They’re like a rich, buttery salted caramel in popsicle form, with that signature creamy, slightly chewy mouthfeel if you let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes before eating, and the built-in 3-oz serving size keeps you from going overboard (though don’t think I haven’t been tempted).
I used a Norpro popsicle mold, which makes 10 pops at a time– the original recipe below makes 8 pops, but I increased it by about 1/3 to make the full 10 pops with some left over besides.
Butterscotch Pudding Pops (slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt, to taste (use less if you use a fine salt)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
1. Combine the cream, brown sugar and butter in the bottom of a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a full boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more frequently as it reduces and thickens.
2. Add cornstarch and slowly whisk in milk. Raise heat to medium. Cook mixture, stirring frequently, until it thickens slightly, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt. Taste mixture and adjust salt, if needed. I ended up putting in quite a bit– it took the flavor from blandly sweet to amazing.
4. Cool to lukewarm, either by using an ice bath or just letting it sit for a while.
Freeze in molds for about an hour, then insert popsicle sticks. Freeze the rest of the way, at least 6 hours total.
Unmold pops by running the mold under hot water for about 25 seconds, then wiggling the sticks and pulling gently until the pops come out. To store, lay pops on a frozen foil-lined baking sheet and freeze for another 30 minutes before individually bagging. If you don’t want to bag, I’m told that if you let things re-freeze for a full hour you can just put the pops together in a gallon bag to store.
Tip: the vertically-oriented snack-sized plastic bags work perfectly to individually package these, after you’ve unmolded them and frozen them on the baking sheet. Try it, you’ll see!