Creamy and velvety, this pudding combines the richness of custard with the irresistible brown sugar sweetness of butterscotch. It’s the base of a Boba Birthday Cake because it’s the same pretty shade of tan as milk tea but is also delicious on its own. The key is the use of piloncillo, which has a deep, earthy sweetness. It’s also known as panela and is sold in supermarkets. To use it in this recipe, you need to grate it on the large holes of a box grater or thinly slice it with a serrated knife. You can substitute packed dark brown sugar for the piloncillo in equal volume, but the resulting pudding won’t taste as complex.
40 minutes plus chilling. Makes about 7 1/2 cups.
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 5 cups whole milk
- 6 large egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons salted butter
- 12 ounces (340 grams) piloncillo, coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Whisk the cornstarch and salt in a large bowl. While whisking continuously, pour in the milk in a steady stream and whisk until smooth. Add the egg yolks and whisk until smooth.
- Put the butter in a large saucepan and melt over medium-high heat. Add the piloncillo and cook, whisking continuously, until very smooth and a darker shade of brown, about 5 minutes. The mixture will separate and look grainy before it comes together again and smooths out. Remove from heat.
- Carefully whisk the piloncillo mixture continuously while adding the cream in a slow, steady stream. Whisk quickly to help the bubbles dissipate and to prevent the sugar from clumping and seizing. Keep whisking until smooth. Place over medium heat.
- Whisk the yolk mixture again and continue whisking while adding about half of the cream mixture in a slow, steady stream. Pour the yolk-cream blend back into the saucepan with the remaining cream mixture while whisking and then bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Once large bubbles pop on the surface, continue to boil for 2 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Remove from heat and scrape into a large bowl. Set the bowl over another large bowl filled with ice. Stir the pudding occasionally until cool to the touch, about 10 minutes. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours. Use in the Boba Birthday Cake or enjoy on its own.
The pudding can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Whisk well to loosen before serving.