I believe that we are in the year of the Butterscotch here at Ideas in Food. We have explored a few variations and the end result eventually ends up granular and crystallized. Many of our butterscotch sauces have been smooth upon first bite but when they cool down, their texture morphs into a gritty penuche-like liquid sugar.
The ingredients in most butterscotch recipes are: brown sugar, heavy cream, butter, and occasionally salt. Brown sugar is either unrefined sugar or a white refined sugar with molasses added back into it. We looked at the puzzle and consulted our pantry. What if we made our own brown sugar to avoid the classic pitfall that seems to come along with the brown sugars we buy in the supermarket. We wondered, what if the impurities in brown sugar are the catalyst for crystallization?
I put sugar, Steen's Cane syrup (think first run molasses), heavy cream, butter, and salt in a pot set over medium heat. I cooked the mixture and watched. Many butterscotch recipes say to cook the ingredients for 5 minutes. I cooked our mixture for 5 minutes. It registered a temperature of 98°C. I looked at our mixture and considered it too thin. I continued to cook the mixture until it reached 100°C. I put a spoonful of the sauce on a plate. It was nice and had some body. It still seemed too fluid. In sugar cookery 112°C is close to soft ball sugar. I didn't want that consistency. I arbitrarily aimed for 105°C. When the mixture reached 105°C I removed it from the heat. I put a spoonful onto the tester plate and let it cool to an edible temperature. It had a rich buttery flavor and delightful chew. I had made damn good butterscotch. It could be better. I wanted a deeper flavor. The flavor we get from caramel.
I took my model and made a slight adjustment. I put the sugar and a small amount of water into a pot and cooked it until it reached a dark caramel, 205°C. I added the cream, cane syrup, salt and butter and stirred the mixture to melt the semi-solidified sugar. I reduced the heat to medium low and cooked the sauce until it reached 105°C. I removed the pot from the heat and let it cool, a bit. I put a spoonful on a plate. The butterscotch was darker in color. It had a full flavor. The same amount of salt appeared to fully season this sauce, though it was lost in the earlier version. This sauce has great chew and pourability. Is it butterscotch? Purists will most likely scoff and say no. Thank goodness we can call it Betterscotch sauce instead.
150 grams white sugar
50 grams water
150 grams heavy cream
150 grams Steen's Cane Syrup
113 grams butter
3 grams salt
Put the white sugar and water in a medium pot set over medium high heat. Cover the pot and cook the mixture for five minutes to fully dissolve the sugar and allow the sides of the pot to be washed down by the steam that to prevent sugar crystallization on the pot's sides. Cook the sugar mixture until it becomes a dark amber caramel, 205°C. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully add the heavy cream and cane syrup. Put the pot back onto medium low heat and stir the hardened caramel back into the mixture to dissolve it. Add the cold butter and salt and stir them in. When the butter is melted continue to cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 105°C. The bubbles will be thick and viscous but still remain small in size. Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool. Serve the sauce warm over everything.