There are certain classic flavors that appeal to the sweet tooth in all of us, and my weakness is butterscotch. The term “butterscotch” refers to a candy or type of confectionery made from brown sugar and butter. Not to be confused with caramel, which is made from white sugar, food historians date butterscotch recipes back to mid-19th century England.
I was interested to learn that original recipes for this candy used treacle, the uncrystallized syrup made during the refining of sugar. Golden syrup treacle was a common sweetener in British cookery. Dark or black treacle, another by-product of sugar refinement, is what we know today as molasses.
In classic butterscotch candy preparation the brown sugar is cooked to the soft crack stage, in the range of 270 – 290 degrees F. A common test is to add a spoonful of hot syrup to very cold water. At the soft crack stage, the candy will form pliable threads.
By adding cream to the sugar mixture, the confection becomes a butterscotch sauce. This delicious combination of brown sugar, butter and cream knows no equal. It is a heavenly addition to ice cream or pound cake. I like to serve apple slices with Butterscotch Sauce for dipping.
The ingredients for Butterscotch Sauce are simple, but pay attention to the process. The first time I made this the sugar completely crystallized and made lumps in the cream. Undeterred, I ate it anyway and tried again. The second time was better, and the third time was a charm; silky smooth and heavenly.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
- ¾ cup whipping cream or heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon Sea salt
- Assemble ingredients and tools.
- In a stainless steel 2-quart saucepan with a heavy bottom, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
- Add the brown sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is uniformly wet. Continue to heat the mixture over low heat, stirring now and again. The sugar and butter mixture will start to change from looking like wet sand to molten lava. As you stir, be sure to get the corners of the pan.
- In about 3 – 5 minutes, the sugar mixture will start to caramelize and become more liquid. Lower the heat and add the cream all at once.
- Whisk the cream into the sugar until the mixture is uniformly liquid. Raise the heat to medium and boil for 10 minutes, continuing to whisk every few minutes.
- Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to pour into a glass bowl or jar. When the sauce is at room temperature, taste it, and whisk in the vanilla and about ½ teaspoon salt. Taste again, adding more salt or vanilla if needed.