You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to share this one with you. Well, I guess since I only started this blog a couple weeks ago it’s been, like, a couple weeks. But anyway, that’s beside the point.
Butterscotch sauce. Ahhh. Why don’t we make this wonderful satiny, thick, sweet, complex treasure at home? This cousin of caramel that goes so wonderfully with soooo many things? It’s really not difficult at all. Actually, if you’ve ever been confounded by caramel, (and, come on, who hasn’t?) then you’ll really be surprised how easy it is to make this similar sauce. It takes literally five (active) minutes to make.
Caramel is sugar, heated until it turns brown and caramelized (duh), then mixed with cream and usually butter,vanilla, and salt. Caramel can be a tricky beast to master because of the heat element. The longer it cooks, the hotter the sugar gets, the thicker/harder the caramel will be when it’s done. So if you’re planning on having caramels you can cut into little cubes you’ve gotta get it to just the right temp. And I suck at using a candy thermometer so I’ve never quite gotten it right. Also, white sugar tends to crystallize the second you touch a spoon to it in the pan. Not good for a smooth sauce.
Anyway, in butterscotch, we use dark brown sugar in place of the white. You know how I prefer brown sugar in my baking for that molasses flavor? Well, dark brown sugar has an even more intense molassesy flavor than it’s lighter counterpart. Could you use light brown sugar simply because that’s what you have in your pantry and you’re dying to make this RIGHT NOW??? Yeah, sure. Go for it. The flavor probably won’t be as strong but it will still be wonderful.
So let’s get started, shall we? First, measure out eight ounces of dark brown sugar. “Hello kitchen scale, nice to see you again.”
Throw the sugar and a stick of butter into a large pan over medium heat. Stir it around every once in a while to make sure everything heats evenly.
While the butter and sugar melt on the stove measure out 8 ounces of heavy cream. I wasn’t sure if one cup of cream weighed eight ounces so I measured to be sure. It does. Close enough anyway. In case you’re wondering, eight fluid ounces of water (volume) weighs almost exactly eight ounces (on the scale). “A pint’s a pound the world round.” (2 cups = 16 fluid oz = 16oz/1 lb) That little ditty only works for water. And apparently heavy cream is pretty close.
Our system of measurement is dumb.
Now meet the supporting players. Each adds an important element to the sauce. The salt and the vinegar both enhance the sweetness while the vanilla adds, well, vanilla flavor. Without them, the sauce is lovely and sweet but nothing that would create a lasting memory. With them… it’s like the flavor is set on fire. Like it’s brought to life. Vibrant and fully actualized as the thing it is meant to be… I don’t know any better way to describe the difference.
So while you’ve been pulling out your other ingredients and reflecting on what makes you feel alive and whole like our sauce will soon be, the sugar will have completely dissolved and the whole mixture will bubble and get thick like lava. When it’s ready for the next step it will actually pull away from the sides of the pan when you stir it.
When that happens, turn off the heat and pour in your cream. If you warm your cream in the microwave first it will give you a bit more time for the next step.
Quickly whisk the cream into the thick, hot sugar mixture. Don’t do anything like take pictures in the middle of it. Because then you might get little lumps of hardening toffee that never fully mix in to the rest of your sauce.
Good thing that didn’t happen to me. Now, leave your sauce alone for 10 minutes to cool a little bit. Go check your email or something. After those 10 minutes are up then add in the salt, vanilla, and vinegar.
Here it is after it has had time to cool. Mmm, lick some off the spoon. You know, just to make sure it’s good.
Now, you can do anything you want with this sauce but I’m gonna show you what I had for my lunch dessert today. Yes, I always have dessert after lunch. I strongly believe in balance when it comes to diet, exercise, and life in general. And for me, that means a small dessert after pretty much every meal.
See my beautiful, potassium-rich banana there?
I’m gonna pour some of our luxurious butterscotch sauce over it. Bananas and butterscotch are BFFs. Did you know that butterscotch sauce was first introduced to the US via the banana split? Our beloved dessert was first invented in 1904 by a pharmacist near Pittsburgh, PA. There’s your fun fact for the day.
Now, if we added ice cream this would be a banana split. And actually, it would also basically be Bananas Foster (minus the blow torch and the rum). But ice cream does not a lunch dessert make. I do have some rules, you know. So I added whipped cream.
Doesn’t that look wonderful? Om nom nom. Just blissful. Go make some.
8 oz Dark Brown Sugar
4 oz (1 stick) Butter
1 cup Heavy Cream
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Salt
Heat a heavy pan over medium heat and add butter and sugar. Stirring occasionally, heat until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved completely.
When butter/sugar mixture is thick and bubbly, turn off the heat, pour in cream and quickly whisk together until uniform. Set aside for 10 minutes.
When cooled slightly, add vinegar, vanilla and salt.
Keep refrigerated. Makes a little over 2 cups sauce.