Butterscotch sauce


Sweet Alchemy: Dessert Magic

Butterscotch is caramel’s darker counterpart. It’s sultry! I love butterscotch, because when cooked to a high temperature, the molasses in the brown sugar lends a deep, complex flavor to the sauce. Traditional butterscotch sauce uses Scotch whisky, but I use cognac for a sweeter, more elegant note.

  • Yield: 4 ½ CUPS (1 L)


  • 1 vanilla bean or 12 g (1 tbsp) vanilla bean paste
  • 300 g (1¼cups) heavy cream
  • 100 g (13 cup) plus 2 tbsp water
  • 65 g (¼ cup) plus 1 tbsp corn syrup or glucose syrup
  • 160 g (¾ cup) packed light brown sugar
  • 5 g heaping 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 350 g (1½ cups) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 55 g (¼ cup) cognac
  • 5 g (2 tsp) Maldon sea salt
How to Make It
  1. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a paring knife, and then use the knife to scrape the seeds from the pod. Place the seeds and pod or the vanilla bean paste in a medium saucepan with the heavy cream over high heat. Bring the cream to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 30 seconds and then remove the saucepan from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  2. In a separate, medium stainless-steel or enamelcoated saucepan, gently combine the water, corn syrup, and both sugars with clean fingertips. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cover with a lid or bowl for about 1 minute to allow the evaporating water to clean the sides of the saucepan. (See “Cooking Sugar,” page 26.) Remove the lid and continue cooking without stirring until the mixture reaches 245° to 265°F (120° to 130°C), and begins to smoke—don’t worry! This is a sign that the sugars are caramelizing.
  3. Once it starts to smoke, continue cooking and gently stirring with a wooden spoon or a heat-resistant spatula, scraping the bottom of the pot to ensure that the sugars don’t prematurely burn. When the mixture reaches 285°F (140°C), turn the heat to low and carefully whisk in the butter, whisking until it’s all incorporated. Remove the vanilla pod from the cream, then add the cream to the sugar mixture, stirring gently. Beware: The mixture may spatter and bubble up; keep stirring and soon you’ll have thick, rich butterscotch. An oven mitt or heat-proof glove on your stirring hand for this step will prevent burns.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the cognac and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined. The butterscotch can be served immediately. To store, cool to room temperature and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

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