For as long as I’ve had the faculty of memory, and for as long as he was alive, my Grandad ate butterscotch or caramel sundaes for dessert. Sometimes it was a variation on the theme; bananas sautéed with butter and brown sugar (add some rum, stick a match to them and you could call it bananas Foster) were the biggest request when my Grandma was gone and my mom went to stay with him. It’s difficult to imagine anything simpler or more of a comfort than bananas sautéed in butter and sugar and spooned over ice cream or warm pancakes or wrapped in a crepe.
On regular weeknights he had vanilla ice cream with butterscotch marble, or a dish of plain vanilla with butterscotch or caramel syrup drizzled over top. During one visit my Dad attempted to impose his own healthy eating habits on him; since Grandad never dished out his own ice cream – my Grandma would go serve it up while he stayed in his usual seat at the end of the table, so that behind him you could see the Detroit river and behind that, a sparkling, towering downtown – I was sent out of the kitchen to the dining room with a dish of a sugarless vanilla frozen soy product doused with extra caramel to disguise its inauthenticity. I’m not sure why he thought we’d get away with it. We didn’t.
I heart caramel. I really do, and yet I’m never inclined to order a caramel sundae. I just don’t think of it in the face of chocolate or hot fudge. But when I do get a taste, I adore it. Remembering this, and my Grandad (who lived to be 94), I made a batch of caramel sauce – tweaking a recipe for chewy fleur de sel caramels – and bought a tub of vanilla ice cream. (I couldn’t make the ice cream from scratch too – I just couldn’t. I knew in my gut that it would cause me to eat the entire batch of both if I did.)
I drizzled the caramel sauce over the ice cream and sprinkled it with salt – flaky pink salt from the Himalayas that N brought me a jar of, and then I tried a bite with a pinch of crackly Maldon salt, and then grey salt. You know, for research purposes. Hey, I can’t help it – it’s my job.
That pants falling down business? I nipped it right in the bud.
One Year Ago: Peach Pie and Roasted Peach & Brown Sugar Ice Cream