Skip to comments.Bringing Back Butterscotch
Posted on 05/15/2013 11:50:30 AM PDT by nickcarraway
Butterscotch is going through something of a revival. So much so, that two Kitchen Window regular contributors wanted to write about it. Therefore, welcome to the more-than-you-ever-thought-you-needed-to-know-about-butterscotch special coverage. Today is the first in our two-part butterscotch series. Check in next week (May 22) for more recipes featuring this resurgent flavor.
A few years ago, I took my mother to a restaurant I was reviewing. During these dinners, I make emphatic suggestions ("eat this or no more free meals") as to what everyone should order, orchestrating the experience from appetizers to entrees to desserts. Love it or hate it, that's how things are done when you dine with a reviewer.
But when I asked my mother to order the butterscotch pudding, she looked at me as if I had just requested that she order a fetal duck egg. Yes, butterscotch was apparently even considered uncool and perhaps disgusting by a septuagenarian who would happily devour a black-licorice pipe. Yet four years later, she still vividly remembers that butterscotch pudding and talks about it with reverence. Silky in texture and deep in flavor, that pudding has haunted us.
Last year, I was asked to bring an ice cream topping to a friend's for Hanukkah. After a quick web search, I quickly settled on butterscotch sauce, eager to re-create something akin to that pudding experience. It was a huge hit, especially when a bolt of culinary lightning struck and I got the idea to dip the warm latkes into the sauce. (Mark my words, there will be an official latke-sundae experiment at some point.)
Before ever having to compete with the likes of Snickers and Fun Dip, this candy that is generally softer than toffee and deeper in flavor than caramel is said to have its roots in Doncaster, England not Scotland, as some believed. It was in this Yorkshire town that Samuel Parkinson reportedly began making the confection in 1817, and his butterscotch came to be known as the butterscotch for generations of Brits.
But I've seen glimmers of a comeback. Washington, D.C.-based pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac, who creates the desserts for Neighborhood Restaurant Group, says they always have butterscotch on hand. "We put it on our sticky toffee pudding," she says. "I've got it also on the doughnut here." That's a bourbon-butterscotch doughnut topped with house-cured bacon found at the restaurant group's newest venture, GBD Fried Chicken and Fresh Doughnuts, in case you were wondering. "Everybody does it with maple, but I wanted to do something different."
She's even toying with the idea of a strawberry dessert with a white miso and butterscotch sauce for spring giving it a very modern twist and bucking the idea that butterscotch is a heavy, cool-weather flavor. "It's definitely something I'm playing around with a lot."
MacIsaac says the difference between butterscotch and caramel is that butterscotch recipes traditionally involve brown sugar and butter, whereas you can make caramel just by cooking white sugar until it, well, caramelizes. "Caramel has a more burnt flavor, but butterscotch has more of a sweeter flavor because it doesn't caramelize as much," she says.
Surprisingly, Scotch isn't a traditional addition to butterscotch, but it certainly is a welcome flavor booster. Dark rum also achieves that desired depth. "I just happen to love that layer of flavor that alcohol gives to things, so it's not just sweet," says MacIsaac. "I like bourbon, that's my personal preference specifically, Maker's Mark."
And while MacIsaac makes her living creating sweet stuff cupcakes, doughnuts, artistically plated desserts she can't resist the allure of butterscotch's most humble preparation: butterscotch pudding.
Simple or fancy, we'll take it any way we can get it.
For DC denizens, she is the pastry chef for Buzz Bakery with locations in Alexandria and Arlington. GOOD STUFF!
I love butterscotch!
The wife got a hankering for some on her ice cream a couple weeks back. Had to go to five stores to find it!
5 stores? I guess she picked a winner.
It has never been out of style with me! Love it!
I love butterscotch as well.
Better than chocolate or vanilla for making malts and shakes. My problem is that its hard to find. My local Fosters Freeze thinks carmel (can you believe it) is a suitable substitute for my beloved butterscotch.
Just had some on last week.
PBS is a Communist tool. Lots of channels do far more than PBS ever has. Take your liberal spam elsewhere.
Butterscotch and Toffee Ice Cream.... Nom Nom Nom Nom.....
Why post from NPR? Well, we already paid for it, and were not getting a refund.
It was sarcastic. NPR holds themselves as being a “lone voice” and “important resouce” in the world.
Articles about butterscotch and other foodstuffs are one thing, but with blogs, etc. there is no need to taxpayer funding of such material.
Haha, love the counter-motivation!
And with the voice of Elmo being worth tens of millions of dollars in personal wealth, defunding PBS would NOT “kill” Big Bird, no matter what the lying liars in the media said in 2012.
No offense, Rina Rapuano , but you are a Major League bitch. Hell on Wheels. I wake up every day thanking God I don't have to deal with manipulative jerks like you.
I’d rather NPR spend their time waxing poetic about butterscotch then doing things like trying to kneecap Clarence Thomas.
“If Public Broadcasting didn’t do it, who would?”
Who would want to?
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