Monday, January 3, 2011

Brandied Butterscotch Sauce

Well, it's the new year, and if you're like me, you've resolved to eat less, spend less, exercise more, yada yada. We'll see how long this lasts. My resolutions stem mostly from the stacks of cookies we made in December and the three Maida Heatter desserts I made within three days.

This first one was for a dinner party we had with some high school friends of Sami. I made Indian for the main course--a nice break from all the rich holiday food--but American for the appetizer and dessert. The dessert was vanilla-roasted pears with purchased gingerbread, vanilla ice cream, and this sauce. Although the pears were everyone's favorite part, this sauce is not bad at all.

It's a pretty easy sauce that involves caramelizing sugar and then adding yummy stuff like cream and butter and brandy.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I find caramelizing sugar stressful. The sugar often makes these horrible clumps, and I'm sure it'll never become a smooth and lovely sauce. But I keep stirring...

...and eventually it usually becomes a nice, smooth sauce. You see that there are still lumps of sugar on the spoon--I ended up straining this sauce because some sugar lumps didn't want to dissolve and I frankly didn't have the patience to wait for them. But as long as you pay attention that the sugar doesn't burn, making a sauce with caramel shouldn't be too stressful.

Here's the recipe. Serve it, once you feel you can have dessert again, with fruit and/or ice cream, or with yogurt, or rice pudding...

Brandied Butterscotch Sauce

1 c. (8 oz.) cream
1 c. (7 oz.) sugar
3 T. (1.5 oz.) butter (I bet salted would be good here)
(Maida doesn't call for it, but a generous pinch of salt is nice)
1 t. vanilla
3 T. (1.5 oz.) Cognac

Heat the cream in a saucepan or in the microwave until just boiling. In a large frying pan or saucepan, heat the sugar, stirring constantly with a heat-proof utensil, over high heat until it starts to melt and caramelize. Turn down the heat to medium and keep stirring until the sugar is smooth and deep brown. Take the pan off the heat and carefully add the cream to the sugar. The mixture will bubble like crazy and the sugar will probably clump up. Never fear--keep stirring it cautiously. Once it calms down, put the mixture back over medium heat and cook and stir until the sugar has dissolved again. Take the pan back off the heat and add the butter, salt, vanilla, and Cognac; stir until the butter has melted. Pour into a serving container and chill until you're ready for dessert.

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