When it comes to ice cream sundaes, there has never been any waffling for me. You can keep your hot fudge, I’ll take butterscotch (or caramel – since there doesn’t seem to be a difference in the ice cream world), please and thank you.
It’s not that I don’t like chocolate at other times. But there’s something about the combination of vanilla ice cream and the buttery richness of a warm butterscotch sauce that pleases me immensely.
It was a good thing I didn’t have a recipe for making it at home.
And then I did.
And that was a good and bad thing.
It’s nothing more complicated than melting some butter and then boiling it with cream and brown sugar and then rounding it out with a bit of vanilla and a pinch or two of flaky salt – which has a milder flavour to emphasize the salty-sweet flavours of a tasty butterscotch without being overtly salty.
It comes together frighteningly – I may even dare to say, dangerously – quickly. Even if you give it several minutes to cool down so it’s thicker and doesn’t melt your ice cream on contact.
And in 10 minutes, I was doing just that.
I did get a bit frustrated the first few times I made this, as mine never looked quite as thick as it did in Smitten Kitchen’s photos. But after scrolling down through the comments one day, I noticed a discussion about having it reach a certain temperature.
I’ve since learned (through trial, error and a bit of impatience) that it’s the 220 F (104 C) mark that seems to make the difference. And also that it has to boil for a lot longer than I would have guessed.
Some other things I’ve learned: don’t be like me and absent-mindedly use your finger to get that little drop off the end of the whisk or thermometer. And don’t be afraid to double the batch; you will thank yourself later.
It should last in the fridge for several days. But, to be honest, mine never sticks around that long.
Easy Butterscotch Sauce
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1/4 cup (50 mL) butter
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) whipping cream pinch flaky salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract, or more to taste
In a pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until blended. Bring to a boil and cook for several minutes, whisking often. It will boil up, so watch carefully. Cook until it reaches a temperature of about 220°F (104°C), give or take a degree or two. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp of vanilla.
Let it cool slightly and taste, adding more vanilla or another pinch of salt to suit your tastes.
Store in the refrigerator. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave to make it pourable.
Makes about 3/4 cup.
This article first appeared in the Calgary Herald. For more recipe ideas, check out CalgaryHerald.com/food.