A Butterscotch Pudding I Won’t Soon Forget

With Scotch and brown sugar, “the record goes to a customer who ate three in one sitting.”

Photo: Courtesy of Old Bull Tavern

In the coastal town of Beaufort, South Carolina, the locals’ haunt Old Bull Tavern rambles back through a couple of brick-walled dining rooms. In the back lies a cozy patio, and up front, a long, welcoming bar overlooked by the bust of a bull.

Earlier this year, during the Beaufort Oyster Festival, I sat down for dinner at Old Bull Tavern and chatted with the chef and co-owner John Marshall. The drinks and the dinner were excellent; I’m sure they were. It’s just that once I tasted the restaurant’s most popular dessert—butterscotch pudding—I forgot everything I’d eaten that night, and pretty much any night before. When my spoon scraped the bottom of the little bowl, I almost ordered another. “The record goes to a customer who ate three in one sitting,” Marshall says.

Rich, buttery, and just sweet enough, the pudding recipe pulls from Marshall’s family memories, especially of his grandparents from England and Scotland. “Grandma Marshall often served puddings for dessert, and Grandpa Marshall always carried butterscotch candy in his pocket to share with my brother and me,” he says. Much of the rest of the menu nods to what Marshall calls “grandmother food”—olive tapenade; local smoked fish; shepherd’s pie; and his riff on a classic, Lowcountry Captain, with braised chicken and andouille over rice. “Our walls are adorned with many photos of our grandmothers as an homage to, and a reminder of, the love and care put into the food they prepared.” 

Love, care, and butter all go into this pudding recipe—and don’t forget a generous pour of Scotch.


  • Butterscotch Pudding (Yield: 7–8 servings)

    • 2 cups dark brown sugar

    • 1½ tsp. kosher salt

    • ¼ cup water

    • 3 cups heavy cream

    • 1½ cups milk

    • 3 egg yolks

    • 2 eggs

    • ¼ cup corn starch

    • 5 tbsp. butter

    • 1 oz. Scotch whisky

    • Flaked sea salt


  1. Combine brown sugar, salt, and water in heavy-bottom pot and cook over medium heat until a deep caramel color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off heat.

  2. Combine heavy cream and milk, and then add to caramel mixture. Cook an additional 5 minutes over medium heat.

  3. Whip egg yolks, eggs, and corn starch together in a stainless-steel bowl until smooth. Then slowly add about half of caramel to egg mixture in stainless bowl while whipping. After this is well combined, add this mixture to remaining caramel in pot. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from heat and add butter and Scotch while mixture is still warm. 

  4. Pour into desired serving bowls and chill in the refrigerator. Before serving, top with whipped cream, your favorite caramel sauce, and a sprinkle of flaked sea salt.