By Becky Van Drunen. Every person has a story. Our stories weave together and eventually become known as History. Our personal history mostly. But even those of us who never achieve notoriety in the written history of the world often take our places in a space just beyond written record. A foot no doubt dipped into the framework of a forever remembered painted scene, a brief glance from a Royal eye as a procession passes, a face blurred from memory but remaining in the background of all the great events of our time. This history is much the same.
We begin with Butterscotch. A good enough place to begin a story I suppose. I do love Butterscotch so I suppose it’s the best place to start. The origin of the word “butterscotch” is disputed. Some feel it may have originated in Scotland while others say there is a closer link to the word “scotched” which means scorched, and in this case may refer to the scorched butter used in traditional butterscotch recipes. There is some written history of the sticky brown sugar and butter confection dating back to the mid 1800′s in the area around Doncaster, England. From Doncaster, head almost straight South for 186 miles and you’ll find an area nestled on the North Bank of the River Thames. Here, you are just a few minutes’ walk from Hampton Court Palace.
Once rich in Royal Life and at the heart of scandal, Hampton Court Palace was a favored by Henry the VIIl and was visited on many occasions by the robust King and all 6 infamous wives. At the end of his life, Henry VIII was a man spoilt by the riches of countless elaborate Royal Feasts at Hampton Court, so it may come as no surprise that the Palace houses the largest surviving 16th century kitchen in the world.
A few miles away from Henry the VIII’s Palace, is the town of Teddington. It is in this town that my Grandmother Jean Ellen Chuter was born on March 9, 1920. Although she only remained in England for her first 3 months, her life and recipes are peppered with English influence. It is conceivable that perhaps some of Grannie’s recipes originated down the road in the Kitchens of Hampton Court Palace and at the many tables of Henry VIII.
This particular handwritten recipe card bares a small note in the top right corner, as many of these cards do, that says simply “Mother.” That would be my Great-Grandmother Chuter (Margarite Edith Whittington.) Other recipe cards name dear friends or family, near and far, some long passed away. Grannie took care to note the origin of recipes that were given to her and for this I am very thankful. I will no doubt cross briefly into the histories and treasures of the kitchens of those who touched Grannie’s life.
And so, from “Mothers” kitchen, to Jean’s Kitchen, from my Kitchen, to yours, Butterscotch Pie.
Jean’s Butterscotch Pie
This is basically butterscotch pudding in a pie shell. I just about ate an entire batch right from the pot with a spoon. It’s that’s good. It’s also very sweet so you could reduce the brown sugar in this recipe to 1/2 cup total and be just fine. Use your best pie crust here. My Dad said “it’s all about the crust” but I haven’t found Grannie’s Pie Crust recipe yet, so use what you can. Or buy a pre-made pie crust. I won’t tell.
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 tbsp. Flour
pinch of Salt
1 cup Milk
2 Egg Yolks
Butter, the size of an egg (about 2 tbsp)
1 tsp Vanilla
1 pie crust (just the bottom half)
For the Meringue
2 Egg Whites
4 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp Cream of Tarter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prick prepared pie crust with a fork. Bake the pie crust until tender and light brown (about 15 minutes.) Remove from oven and set aside.
2. In a medium sauce pan add your brown sugar, flour, salt and milk over medium heat. Whisk together and cook until thick, about 10 minutes.
3. Put your egg yolks in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in a small amount of the hot thickened brown sugar mixture to gradually raise the temperature and prevent scrambling the eggs. Pour the eggs slowly into remaining brown sugar mixture, whisking continuously. Cook over medium high heat for another 5 minutes, whisking often.
4. Stir in the butter and vanilla and remove from the heat.
5. Pour butterscotch filling into cooked pie crust and set aside.
6. Make the Meringue: In a very clean and dry bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add in the cream of tartar and the vanilla. Continue beating and gradually add in the sugar a teaspoon at a time until stiff peaks form. Spoon the meringue on top of the pie, making sure to create little peaks of meringue here and there. Bake at 350 for 5-8 minutes until just starting to brown.
7. Chill before serving to let the filling set a bit.
Becky Van Drunen is a happily married momma to a toddler and owner of the food blog basilandbacon.com. As a healthy living enthusiast, she offers Meal Planning and Culinary Services to clients across Canada.