Thursday, December 31, 2009

Butterscotch Sauce

Here's the deal. My family is one of those "weird" families. Weird as in... we celebrate Christmas on a different day than most people celebrate. We celebrate Christmas a day early. So, here's the schedule:

December 23 Evening: Our Christmas Eve (Big Family Dinner)
December 24 Morning: Open Presents (Big Family Breakfast).
December 24 Day: Exchange, return gifts.
December 25 Morning: Spend Christmas with Extended Family.

A little unconventional, but very practical. At least, it used to be... You see this whole thing started back when my brothers and I were little kids. We'd wake up on Christmas morning, unwrap all our toys, be super excited and dying to play with them and then be upset that we had to leave all our new toys to go and spend the day with extended family.

One year, my mom came up with a brilliant idea! She told us to write Santa a letter and see if he could come early that year, so that we didn't have to pack up and/or leave our toys on Christmas morning. We could leisurely spend the morning together instead of rushing out the door. Luckily, Santa got the letter and we've been celebrating Christmas the same way ever since.

Now, initially... we would go out to dinner for our Christmas Dinner to some exotic restaurant that we'd never been to before. But somewhere along the way, we nixed that idea and started having Christmas Dinner at home.

When we first started, my mom always bought this one cheesecake at Sam's Club every year. It was called a Turtle Cheesecake, it was $10 and it was heavenly. We thought it was so fancy. It came frozen and had parchment paper between all the slices and I loved pulling all the parchment from between the slices and licking the paper clean.

At some point, we stopped buying the Cheesecake and my mom and I would make homemade desserts instead. This year, I wanted to bring back the nostalgia of the Christmas Cheesecake, so I made my favorite plain cheesecake recipe and I decided to finally try something that I've had my eye on for awhile: Butterscotch.

I came across a recipe awhile back that talked about the wonders of homemade butterscotch. How it was infinitely better than store bought butterscotch (and lord knows I love me some store bought butterscotch). But, when Deb of Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for an Easy Butterscotch Sauce recipe, I was sold.

And you know what? This butterscotch sauce is indeed infinitely better than store bought. And you know what else? It is super freaking easy. What I liked about it, is that I could make it as salty and rich as I wanted it. Yum. Perfect for a slice of cheesecake or a huge bowl of vanilla ice cream (Butterscotch milkshake, anyone?).

Easy Butterscotch Sauce
Recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen

I don't really have anything to offer up here, except to note that I used light brown sugar. The recipe is dead simple.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen: Here or for your convenience, cut and pasted:

Yield: About 2/3 to 3/4 cup sauce

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark or light brown sugar (I used dark)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or 1/4 teaspoon regular salt), plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, plus more to taste

Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended. [A flat whisk works great here.] Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally.

Remove from heat and add one teaspoon of the vanilla extract, stirring to combine and this is where, despite the simplicity of the recipe, you get to feel all “chef-y”. Dip a spoon in the sauce and carefully taste the sauce (without burning your tongue!) to see if you want to add additional pinches or salt or splashes of vanilla. Tweak it to your taste, whisking well after each addition. I ended up using a full teaspoon of flaky salt and the listed amount of vanilla to get a butterscotch sauce with a very loud, impressive butterscotch flavor but the strength of your vanilla and intensity of your salt may vary.

Serve cold or warm over vanilla ice cream, roasted pears or pound cake. The sauce will thicken as it cools. It can be refrigerated in an airtight container and reheated in a microwave or small saucepan.

To do ahead: This sauce will keep at least two weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.