No picture, folks. You'll just have to let the description of the sauce paint the picture!
Here is a little treat I used to whip up at one of the restaurants I worked at. We were always trying to find ways to add beer to our dishes, partly because the restaurant was a gastropub and partly because it was fun to go to the bar and walk away with a pitcher of craft-brewed stout or porter. You know, to use in cooking. Originally, we used this sauce on our sticky toffee pudding, but then it became our signature sundae sauce. We served it spooned over some vanilla malt ice cream along with candied pecans and a booze-soaked cherry. Good stuff, folks.
At any rate, this sauce was the result of one of my happy experiments (although I had many unhappy experiments, too). It really is the best. It has a bitter edge from the reduced beer, but it is the perfect grown-up foil to sweet, creamy ice cream.
Stout Toffee Sauce
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup good stout
- 1/3-1/2 c. heavy cream (depending on your tolerance for bitterness)
- heavy pinch of salt
- 1 oz. butter
- splash of vanilla
In a large sauce pan, heat the sugar with just enough water so that it's wet. Slowly bring this to a boil, stirring. When it comes to a boil, slap on a lid and let it boil for 2-3 minutes. This should wash any sugar crystals off the sides of the pan. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the caramel is a very deep amber color and little wisps of smoke are just starting to come off of it. I always knew it was ready when it started to sting my eyes. It was very exciting.
Turn down the heat, and add the stout. Stand back. This stuff will splutter and foam up and act like Vesuvius, so be prepared. Some of the caramel may have seized up if the stout was really cold, so stir over medium heat until the sauce is smooth and all the caramel is melted. Add the cream and a pinch of salt and cook and reduce for a few minutes, until it's syrupy.
Remove from the heat. You'll want to taste it at this point. Drop a little bit onto a plate, let it cool off and then taste it. Stir in a splash of vanilla and a little more salt if you think it needs it.
This sauce will keep in the fridge for quite some time. It will get pretty hard, and it might separate. That's okay. Just put the container of sauce into a larger pan of hot water and let it melt and heat up. Whisk it well to bring it back together.
I am telling you, friends--this stuff is G. U. D. good. This is a real, grown up, sweet-bitter-malty toffee sauce, and once you spoon some hot stout toffee sauce over some cold malt ice cream, you will be able to die happy. You may thank me from Beyond.
Right now, you're probably wondering how to make malt ice cream. Fear not; I won't leave you hanging. Take a good vanilla ice cream base and add malted milk powder to it, to taste. (Yeah, kind of anticlimactic, I know) For reference, I think we added about 1/3 cup per every quart of base, but I don't remember exactly. Just do it to your taste. If you try to add the powder while the ice cream base is still warm, it will tend to clump up, but it's nothing an immersion blender can't handle. If you add it once the base is cold, you should be able to whisk it in with no problem.