Category Archives: Sauces

Making Toffee/Butterscotch Sauce

I use the slash because, while there is a clear difference between toffee and butterscotch candies there is little if any difference between toffee and butterscotch sauce. Butterscotch is generally a bit lighter in color I suppose. To produce that effect all you need to do is use light brown sugar instead of dark brown. Otherwise the procedure is the same. You’ll need:

7 ounces (scant cup) dark brown sugar
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter
pinch salt
3 ounces (generous 1/3 cup) heavy cream

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer.

Simmer it gently until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow the to cool and thicken somewhat before using. It will also hold almost indefinitely and can be refrigerated for several weeks. For a smoother sauce that will flow better at lower temperatures, double the cream (at least).

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Chocolate “Sauce” Recipe

I’m putting sauce in quotes because a chocolate syrup is really what this is. However since I love David Lebovitz’s idea of bolstering regular chocolate syrup with a little eating chocolate to give it extra body, I’ll add some to my go-to syrup recipe and call it sauce! Thanks David! Cut the sugar down by as much as half for a less-sweet version.

2.25 ounces (2/3 cup) cocoa powder
7 ounces (1 cup) granulated sugar
8 ounces (1 cup) water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, water and salt. Whisk it over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Boil it for four minutes, whisking all the while, then remove the pan from the heat. Let the mixture cool about two minutes, then stir in the chocolate and vanilla. Allow it to sit several hours to thicken before you use it. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Note: if you’re cutting the sugar, try simmering for about another two minutes to reduce it a bit more. You can also add another 1/4 teaspoon salt or more if you want to do the hip “salted chocolate” flavor thing!

Filed under:  Chocolate Sauce, Pastry | 25 Comments

Making Lemon Cider Sauce

What happens when you garnish a rustic, thrown-together dessert with a hastily prepared sauce? Sudden, unexpected elegance is what. Lemon cider sauce is supremely simple. You can pull it together in about five minutes. Drizzle it around a fat slice of gingerbread cake, over ice cream…whatever strikes your fancy. It’s terrific with poached fruit. Combine the sugar, spices, cornstarch and salt in a small saucepan.

Set it over medium-high heat and add the cider.

Whisk it until it comes to a simmer, then keep it on the low boil for about one minute. It won’t get any thicker after that. You want it thick enough so you can see a stripe when you run your finger down the back of a spoon. Remove it from the heat.

Then immediately stir in the lemon juice and zest. Wanna add a shot of bourbon? Hell I won’t stop you.

Done! Serve it warm.

Filed under:  Lemon Cider Sauce, Pastry | 8 Comments

Lemon Cider Sauce Recipe

This easy and versatile sauce is great with all sorts of simple fall and winter cakes and fruit desserts. It’s much quicker and easier than a custard, since it’s thickened with cornstarch (corn flour) instead of egg yolks. It goes like this:

3.5 ounces (1/2 cup sugar)
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup apple cider
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon

In a small sauce pan whisk together the sugar, starch, spices and salt. Whisk in the cider and set the pan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer, whisking it all the while for about one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice and zest. Serve warm.

Filed under:  Lemon Cider Sauce, Pastry | 11 Comments

What about the sauce?

Folks must have been feeling mighty feisty last night, since I got several emails complaining that I left out the recipe for the fruit sauce. Oh, ye of little faith. Would I ever forget a thing like that? Don’t answer, it was a rhetorical question.

Fruit sauces can be easy or hard. I prefer easy, myself, especially when they’re just as good as the harder variety. The standard proportions for a simple fruit sauce are 2-1 fruit to sugar by weight, with an optional splash of lemon juice (about a teaspoon per half pound of fruit) added to preserve color. These are best made in a blender with fruit from the freezer section. Here I have about six ounces of (mostly) thawed raspberries.

I put them in the blender.

Add the sugar and juice.

Turn the machine on and…there you go:

Fruit sauce.

If you want to pass the sauce through a fine mesh strainer, by all means feel free. It will give you a more velvety texture. Oh and, this also works with strawberries, pears, apricots, peaches, and probably several others that I’m forgetting just now.

Filed under:  Easy Fruit Sauce, Pastry Components | Leave a comment

The Art of Darkness

Now THAT’s what I call a caramel sauce. Deep dark and lip-smackingly bitter-sweet. Perfect for a home-made caramel ice cream or a batch of caramel-pumpkin bars. Of course not everybody likes their caramel this dark and smoky. To me, though, those people are nuts.

Of course nobody’s saying you have to cook yours this long. You can take the caramel off the heat any time you like before then, as we’ll see. Start by adding one cup of sugar to a sauce pan or skillet (a skillet will give you a little more control over your heat if you’re simply making caramel…stick to a saucepan if you’re making caramel sauce since there’ll be some splattering).

Add a couple of tablespoons of water, it doesn’t matter how much, just enough to moisten the sugar. It’s all going to cook out anyway.

Give it a stir and turn the heat up to high. Why high? Because not only is it the fastest way to get where you’re going, the intensity of the heat will allow you to leapfrog over some of the more, shall we say, “crystalline” phases of the sugar cooking process, giving you a smoother caramel. Don’t worry, just be careful.

Now then, begin to swirl the pan over the burner, keeping the syrup on the move. After about a minute it’ll start to bubble.

After about three minutes the first spot of color will appear.

Another twenty or thirty seconds and the mixture will turn light amber.

Another ten seconds or so and it’ll be dark amber.

Stop here if you’re making caramel for sticky buns, an upside down cake or tarte tatin, since the caramel will cook a little more as it bakes. Just remove the pan from the heat and add two tablespoons of butter (be careful, it’ll foam up some). Stir the mixture until smooth, and pour into the appropriate baking form while it’s still hot. Making caramel sauce? Then have an open, one-cup carton of heavy cream at the ready and proceed.

Ten more seconds and you’ll start seeing wisps of smoke (not steam) come up. This is the indicator that you’re right around the 350 mark. Press on another five seconds to about this stage of darkness for a spectacular sauce.

What, don’t feel like getting off the burnt sugar party train? Then you’re my kind of people! Let’s rock!

Press on another 5-7 seconds. You’ll get a little more smoke and a brown-black spot will appear in the center of the pan. Bingo: it’s time.

Kill the heat and quickly begin pouring in one cup of warm (or hot) cream, stirring or whisking all the while. See how the caramel is darker still after only about three seconds? Sugar cooks incredibly fast at this stage, the cooler cream will stop that.

Be aware, it’ll foam up some…

…however in a few moments it’ll calm down into a smooth sauce. Add a little vanilla extract if that’s your thing. If you’re not planning to use it right away, say you want to store it in the fridge for whenever, whisk in another 1/4 cup of cream and pour it into a squeeze bottle (you’ll need to warm the bottle a bit in the microwave or in a water bath before using it).

Oh yeah…that’s the stuff. I’m pouring this over vanilla ice cream tonight, late, while nobody’s looking.

UPDATE: Reader Jennifer adds:

Seems like we have the same taste when it comes to caramel sauce. I know the sugar is dark enough when my eyes sting. Try stopping the cooking w/balsamic sometime–fantastic! Just don’t breathe in until some of the steam clears away! Add some stock and salt, and you have a perfect sauce for venison. Or duck. Or whatever:)

Thanks Jennifer! Can’t wait to try that…

Filed under:  Caramel and Caramel Sauce, Caramel Sauce, Pastry Components | 26 Comments