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Butterscotch sauce (Alanna Jankov for The Globe and Mail)
Butterscotch sauce (Alanna Jankov for The Globe and Mail)

Butterscotch sauce Add to ...

Many caramel recipes perilously advocate a dry-heat method that often results in a gritty mess, clouds of black smoke, shrieking smoke alarms and ruined pots.

There is an easier way: Just add water, then remove it. Water helps the sugar dissolve and melt evenly without getting grainy. And if you don't stir while the water is evaporating - stirring can cause the sugar granules to pop up, stick to the side of the pot, crystallize and fall back into the syrup - you can further avoid grittiness.

Left behind will be an evenly melted pure sugar syrup free to continue rising into the flavour zone. And if there's some butter, cream and vanilla waiting at the end, even better.

  • Servings: Makes 2 cups


1 cup water

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces

1 cup heavy (35 per cent) cream

Splash of pure vanilla extract


Pour water into a saucepan. Gently sprinkle in sugar, taking care to avoid the edges of the pan. Begin heating over a high heat. Don't stir! Allow the sugar to dissolve into the water to form simple syrup. As the heat increases, the water will gradually evaporate and leave behind a pure melted sugar syrup. Once the syrup starts to turn pale gold, gently swirl the pan to keep the colour even. When it has reached deep golden brown, add butter and whisk in until the sauce is smooth. Add cream and pure vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Pour into a jar and refrigerate until thickened. The sauce will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator.

Michael Smith is the host of the Food Network's Chef at Home, Chef at Large and The Inn Chef.

Suggested Wine Pairings

What you pair with this sauce will depend on how you use it. Whether your pour it over ice cream or on some sort of cake, though, it's fair to assume the dessert will be very sweet. The caramelized flavour here lends itself to a variety of wines. Sweeter styles of sherry, such as cream or rich oloroso (ask your store consultant for a sweet oloroso, because there are also dry versions), would be a top choice, especially for ice cream. Tawny port is another good option. If you prefer a chilled dessert wine, consider orange muscat or, from France, a muscat de Baumes de Venise. A rich, dark spice cake topped with the sauce could also match well with a dark beer, such as porter or stout. -- Beppi Crosariol

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