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You have been given a raw deal. Reduced to a flavor of bright yellow hard candies, packets of instant pudding and dubious ice cream toppings, you cannot speak for yourself. Because you don’t have a mouth.
I however, do have a mouth, and I am a long-time fan of yours. I guess it falls to me to tell everyone how amazing you are. I aim to do you proud.
Butterscotch porn. I mean, would you look at that slow slide off the spoon…? Sigh…
In Defense of Butterscotch
Long ago, I wrote a post called Yes Virginia, There Is a Difference Between Between Caramel and Butterscotch. Then I changed the name of the post because of SEO. Boo. But the url is the same. I also have a post about authentic butterscotch candy. As a matter of fact the base recipe comes from a newspaper article written in 1848. How’s that for authentic?
I just wanted to give you my bona fides up front so you’d know I’m serious about my love for butterscotch.
Even though butterscotch doesn’t really have a hard and fast technical definition, after looking at loads and loads of recipes for both butterscotch and caramel, I’m pretty confident about making the following Rules:
The flavor profile of butterscotch is salt-forward, buttery with a backbone of molasses.
Butterscotch does not have to contain dairy while caramel (unless it’s just straight up caramelized sugar) does. Caramel does not have to contain butter while butterscotch always contains butter.
You don’t have to caramelize sugar first to make butterscotch. Caramel should always be based on caramelized sugar.
Butterscotch should always contain enough molasses to taste. Molasses is not an ingredient in traditional caramel.
Good butterscotch should taste a lot like a well-salted toffee. In fact, the only real difference between the two is the sugar stage you cook them to. Cook butterscotch to 225F or so and you have a thick sauce. Cook it to 240F-260F, and you have a firm yet chewy candy. Cook it all the way up to 310F (hard crack) and add nuts, and you have toffee.
If you ever see a recipe for a sauce that says something like “quick and easy caramel sauce” that begins “Bring butter, brown sugar and cream to a boil,” what you are making is a weak butterscotch, and as far as I’m concerned, both caramel and butterscotch should be offended by its very existence. I say a sauce based on brown sugar, butter and dairy is a weak butterscotch because there isn’t enough molasses in brown sugar for you to be able to taste it in the sauce. Riddle me this: what do you get when you cook sugar (and a tiny dab of molasses), butter and dairy for 4-7 minutes? Buttery sweetened condensed milk. Hmmph.
Real Coffee Butterscotch Ice Cream Sauce
For the butterscotch I’m sharing with you today, I used 8 oz of sugar and 1.5 oz of molasses. You could also use 8 oz brown sugar plus an additional ounce or so of molasses and get the same result. I wanted a sauce a bit more sophisticated than a straight butterscotch (although straight butterscotch is fantastic), and I thought coffee might pair nicely. Just to be certain, I consulted The Flavor Bible, and sure enough, coffee was on the list. Hooray! Butterscotch, I truly hope this makes up for the myriad wrongs perpetrated against you by Unscrupulous Manufacturers.
And now, without further ado, I give you real coffee butterscotch ice cream sauce.
- 2 oz unsalted butter
- 8 oz granulated sugar
- 1.5 oz molasses, (I recommend Grandma's. Do not use blackstrap)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, (I will let you use only 3/4 teaspoon if you must, but no less)
- 6 oz heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla
- coffee extract, , to taste (1-3 teaspoons)
- Melt the butter over medium heat.
- Stir in the sugar, molasses and kosher salt. The mixture will look like wet brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches 230F, about five minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and coffee extracts. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Serve warm over ice cream. Or whatever.
If you can't find coffee extract, use espresso powder or freeze-dried coffee dissolved in a tablespoon of hot water. You may have to play around with how much you add, so start small, taste, and add more if necessary.
Substitute a small amount of almond extract for the coffee extract. You could also add a tablespoon of Amaretto or even Frangelico rather than--or in addition to--the coffee flavor.
According to The Flavor Bible and my taste buds, another flavor that pairs well with butterscotch is almonds. I added a sprinkling of sliced almonds to the mix, and that sweet nuttiness and crunch really elevated the whole thing. I highly recommend it.
Y’all, this sauce is a dream. If you are a fan of deeply flavorful toffee-ish sauces, then this real coffee butterscotch ice cream sauce has your name written all over it. What are you waiting for? Hie thee to the kitchen, people! And once you taste this sauce, you’ll see that you don’t dislike butterscotch. You just dislike bad butterscotch.
Thank you for spending some time with me today.
Have a lovely day.