Monday, December 31, 2007

Perfecting Butterscotch


There are few sauces in this world that I love more than butterscotch. It has the gooey richness of caramel, but with a little more moxie. Even the name butterscotch has an allure to it. "butter" and "scotch"- of course it's gonna be good.
But, this innocent little dessert condiment has been irking me since last summer when I had a burnt sugar banana split on my menu.
This was no ordinary banana split. For weeks before the restaurant opened, I had a vision in my head of this glorious dessert, and glorious it was; A banana bruleed with a blow torch, scoops of homemade chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice creams-
topped with strawberry sauce, bittersweet fudge sauce, butterscotch, chopped almond praline, sliced strawberries, and a fresh bing cherry. Each order took almost 10 minutes to assemble and to this day, it could very well be one of my finest achievements...with the exception of one thing- I could never get that damn butterscotch right.

I started with a recipe from one of my heroes, Emily Luchetti. Her butterscotch contained all of the usual suspects: brown sugar, butter, cream, salt, etc.
Right off the stove it was quite delicious. After the sauce bottle sat overnight in the fridge however, it was grainy. Still yummy- but the texture simply wouldn't do. Graininess is one of my biggest pet peeves.


Not ready to give up, I tried a recipe given to me by a fellow pastry chef. As I was cooking it, I realized her recipe was pretty much the same as Luchetti's, and I knew I was probably going to have the same problem. So, I cooked it a bit longer to see if that would help dissolve the brown sugar, then I added a shot of whiskey while it cooled. The extra cooking time did nothing for the grainy issue, but the whiskey worked wonders on it's flavor. I had one of those no-duh moments. Why would I even consider making a butterscotch with out any booze in the first place?

With the restaurant in it's infancy at this time, I obviously had a million other things on my plate. I certainly could not linger here in this quagmire. The flavor was very good, and if it were made daily, in small amounts, I could sideswipe the grainy issue. I vowed that I would pick this butterscotch thing back up when I had time to catch my breath.

Fast forward to December, and I have gingerbread on my menu. A dark and spicy wedge with a dollop of Meyer lemon-mascarpone whip (a pillowy blend of Meyer lemon curd, mascarpone, and heavy cream. I will post about it in the future- it's too good not to share), rose poached quince, and a glaze of the infamous butterscotch. Here was my chance to re-visit the texture.


Butterscotch is made in the same procedure as caramel- but you use brown sugar and butter instead of white sugar and water, and you don't caramelize it. Instead, they are melted together, then the cream is added and the sauce boils for a few minutes... It's like "lawyer-ball" caramel.


Brown sugar was not only was it the key to butterscotch's flavor, but it was also my roadblock. Brown sugar is basically white sugar with molasses added to it. What if I made a basic creamy caramel sauce, then added molasses, whiskey and salt while it cooled? First time was a charm. I would go so far as to call it perfect. I was pissed off that my brain didn't make that connection back in the banana split days.

The hubby and I have been enjoying homemade cinnamon stick ice cream and butterscotch sundaes for dessert over the holidays. Luckily, we polished off the last of it last night- just in time for my new years resolution to decrease the size of my bum!

This sauce can be refrigerated in a sealed container for at least 2 weeks. To bring it back to it's original saucy lustre, re heat it slowly over the stove, or in the microwave.
Makes about 1 cup

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

3/4 cup cream
1 oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes

2 T molasses
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 T whiskey (I like Yukon Jack for it's sweetness)

In a small sauce pan, combine sugar and water. Cook over high heat until it' caramelizes. This takes a while longer due to the extra amount of water.
Meanwhile, in a separate sauce pan, combine the butter and cream. Bring to a simmer and let sit until the sugar has caramelized.
Off the heat, slowly and carefully whisk in the hot cream. The pot will spatter and spit- look out!
Whisk over gentle heat until sauce is smooth and lump-free. Strain into a heat proof container, then stir in molasses, whiskey, and salt
Happy New Year!


Deborah said...

I am a butterscotch lover. Thanks for this recipe!!

Annina said...

Hey! Just want to say, that I really like your blog and your recipes! Thank you very much!! I added you on my blog! Hope this is ok?!?! You can find your link under "good food pages" on the right side! ( Take care & happy new year!

Mallow said...

That looks heavenly - it makes me want ice cream, even in this horrible weather..

Deborah Dowd said...

I love butterscoth anything and your pix of your butterscotch sauce makes me wish I hadn't started a post-holiday diet!

Lesa said...

Goll dangy, I gotta try that. My frustration with cooking brown sugar is that it always tastes like cheapass maple syrup when I add cream to it. Perhaps I need to give this a whirl.

Good to see you back in business, lady!

xo L

Laura said...

Wow! That looks incredible! I'm having cravings...

Annina said...

I really like your blog and so I added your link on my one! Hope this is ok for you! I'm also a member of the Daring Bakers! :-) So... go on like this! Greetings from Switzerland, Annina (Ann)

Kit Hodge said...

Hi Brittany,

How do I contact you directly? I'm with a non-profit and I don't want to sell you anything or do product placement, etc.

Kit Hodge
kit (at) neighborsproject DOT org

Cakespy said...

Just saw you featured on the Leftover Queen (I realize this comment is a bit late after your post!). What a great one though, I am a sucker for butterscotch!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

You could be sued for leading people into temptation like this - the sauce looks heavenly..gotta try it.

Jeena said...

Hi there my name is Jeena and I have started a food recipe forum that I thought you would like to join here Click here for food recipe forum

I would love to see you on there to chat about food and cooking you can talk about anything you like and start your very own topics. :-)
or see my main food recipe website Jeenas food recipe site

Hope to see you soon


Jeena x

Anonymous said...

Nice work. I wonder if a small amount of glucose would also help prevent recrystallization?

strambinha said...

Hello Pie Lady,

I guess your problem with the tradicional butterscotch recipe is what is sold as brown sugar in the US. As you said, the American definition is refined sugar mixed with molasses to make it brown again - a rather dumb and less healthy option.

Brown sugar should be sugar that had not been refined, it has a natural brown color, a rather different flavour, and works just fine in the traditional butterscotch recipe. You should be able to find real brown sugar in fancy gourmet stores and in latin groceries (usually much cheaper).

Congratulations on your delicious blog and thanks for the roasted banana ice cream, looks like something my husband would die for...

strambinha said...

Me again. :-)

Just in case you go looking for unrefined sugar in a latin store, the name in Portuguese is "açúcar mascavo".

Seattle Tall Poppy said...

Perfect! What a great discovery and I loved learning about how you ended up with this recipe. Can't wait to try it!

Thanks Norm!