Caramel/Butterscotch Sauce Three Ways


Happy Christmas everyone, and sorry for the radio silence. I actually had a post almost finished on the evening of December 23rd when I went upstairs to read W a story. On my way back down, gravity got me good. (It’s been after me my whole life.) Thick, wooly socks + hundred-year-old wood stairs worn to a smooth sheen = me slamming down several of them in quick succession – WHAMMOWHAMMPWHAMMO – and winding up in a pile on the landing. You know that saying “the bigger they are, the harder they fall?” Truth. I made it to bed -barely- and spent a tearful, painful night waking up each time I moved. It appears now, three days and plenty of painkillers later, that I cracked/bent/fractured/otherwise maimed my tailbone, which is quite swollen. Wait, that could just be my butt.

And now my lower back is getting in on the action, trying to help compensate for it. So I’m bouncing back and forth between Robaxacet and Ibuprofen, and which one I currently have on board determines which pain comes out on top. I’ve become quite useless in the past 24 hours, but still managed to pull off a turkey dinner for 11, even if it was 2 hours late. (It also seems painkillers affect math skills, specifically when calculating pounds, kilos and hours in the oven.)

Which isn’t to say the past few days haven’t been completely fantastic, and I can’t wait to tell you about them. Also – my sister has officially moved in across the street, which is almost like our little family has sprouted four new members, and W suddenly has a sort of brother to spend every waking moment with (and whose Dad showed up on Christmas morning with a Wii – could life get any better?) and I have to fill you in on all that as well. But (besides the fact that I’ve been trying to stay off the computer for a few days) sitting at the computer is not the most comfortable thing for me to do right now. So I think I’ll pick up where I left off, and go watch Flight of the Conchords and/or curl up with Cleaving, both of which Santa left under the tree.

So this is how it went:

This holiday season, I’m thankful for cream, sugar and cute little dollar store jars.

I’ve fallen back on quick, cheap and easy (if you are what you eat, right?) caramel sauce on many a Christmas Eve eve, wanting to drop little packages of something delicious on my neighbours’ steps but running out of time to make the more elaborate things I wholeheartedly meant to. Tonight I was all set to make another batch of stollen, and found I was out of milk. So I decided to give up on stollen and make caramel sauce. (Or butterscotch. What’s in a name? That which we call a sauce by any other name would taste as sweet.)

SmittenKitchen planted the seed again with her ridiculously easy butterscotch sauce that is, in fact, ridiculously easy. I morphed it with an old standby recipe and made three batches in under half an hour. One was straight-up, another spiked with espresso (powder) and a third made with eggnog in place of the cream. (If eggnog isn’t your thing, think of caramel spiked with nutmeg.) And I think she’s right, by the way, in calling it butterscotch, which is defined thusly:

but·ter·scotch [buht-er-skoch]
A syrup, sauce, candy, or flavoring made by melting butter and brown sugar together.

But I think caramel would technically be correct as well:

car·a·mel [kar-uh-muhl, -mel, kahr-muhl]
A smooth chewy candy made with sugar, butter, cream or milk, and flavoring.

Either way it’s delicious. And easy. And cheap.

Caramel/Butterscotch Sauce


Yields1 Serving

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream or eggnog
1/4-1/2 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. instant coffee or espresso (optional - if you want coffee caramel)


Whisk everything but the vanilla in a small pot set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and espresso, if you're using it.



 1/4 cup butter
 1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
 1/2 cup whipping cream or eggnog
 1/4-1/2 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
 1 tsp. vanilla
 1 tsp. instant coffee or espresso (optional - if you want coffee caramel)



Whisk everything but the vanilla in a small pot set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and espresso, if you're using it.

Caramel/Butterscotch Sauce

Oh and by the way, I drew a number (using for the Anthony Bourdain tickets, and I’m really sorry if your name isn’t Katharine, because that means you didn’t win. But if your name is Katharine, congratulations! You’re going to see Mr. Bourdain on January 12th.

One Year Ago: BBQ Turkey Pizza and Hot Spiced Ginger Lemonade


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31 comments on “Caramel/Butterscotch Sauce Three Ways

  1. mmac
    December 26, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Oh Julie. Ouch. And ouch doesn’t really begin to cover it, does it? And you still pulled off turkey dinner for 11? And came back here to post? Remarkable. (Gravity and I have had more than one run in too. We’re not pals.)

  2. Erica B.
    December 26, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Yeeeeoww that sounds like quite the fall! Kudos to you for still getting Christmas dinner on the table! (tell me you called in reinforcements)I was thinking about you xmas day knowing it was your first year to finally host. Hope you’re feeling better soon Julie!

  3. Dani
    December 26, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    So very sorry that you got hurt, Julie! Perfect timing for your sister to be so close. I cannot believe what all you’ve still done since being injured – you need a big S for SuperWoman, SuperMom, just plain Super! Please take care of yourself.

  4. Laurie
    December 26, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Owww owww owww!!! I have both fallen downstairs and injured my tailbone, so I know whereof you speak. When I fell downstairs I went headfirst and broke a finger, putting it in harm’s way in the hopes of protecting my neck. When I broke my tailbone it was a fall on the ice. Very very painful. I can’t remember how long it hurt for, it seemed to go on forever, and interfered with everything at work and at home.
    You have my deepest sympathies.
    Many thanks for the caramel/butterscotch recipe. Caramel is one of my weaknesses.
    Congratulations on managing to produce any sort of meal, much less one of the major ones of the year with that kind of injury.
    So that finishes 2009 with a bang.
    Here’s to 2010 being a really good year.
    Happy New Year!!

  5. Christina
    December 27, 2009 at 6:27 am

    We had a cat growing up. A cat who in the very early morning hours would wake up my mom for food/love/to be let outside … one of these early mornings, my mom was heading down the stairs when that cat tripped her and she did the same thing you did. Injured her tailbone so badly! I was only about 5 or 6 years old but remember well how bad of shape my mom was in. Take care of yourself!!!

    That caramel looks and sounds delicious!! I think I’ll be doing some little new years gifts!!
    We had a sick Christmas in our house … 2nd year in a row! Here’s to hoping to better luck for us next year! 🙂

  6. June
    December 27, 2009 at 8:11 am

    OWWW – Been there done that too and it isn’t pretty. You have my deepest sympathies Julie. Try and take it easy, OK! Your sauce is great – actually I’ve used one like it recently on a sticky toffee pudding. Delicious!

  7. H-woman
    December 27, 2009 at 8:51 am

    OUCH! Hope the road to recovery is swift! I <3 Flight of the Concords!! And egg nog in caramel sauce? Sounds D.I.V.I.N.E.

    H =)

  8. sue.d
    December 27, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Merry Christmas! And OUCH! I can’t believe you still cooked turkey for everyone. Stay horizontal until you feel better…or however you feel best.

    Love from us.

  9. malithi
    December 27, 2009 at 11:59 am

    maimed tailbone + turkey for 11 = CRAZY (you must be superwoman)

    Hope you fee better soon Julie!

    The eggnog caramel sauce sounds delicious! Eggnog in anything is delicious…I made eggnog french toast for christmas breakfast.

  10. JulieVR
    December 27, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    OK, I didn’t mean to give myself a pat on the back for producing dinner for 11 – I should mention that it was with the help of my sister, and the alternative (Cornish hens with Stove Top and frozen Brussels sprouts boiled for an hour, until spreadable) was even less appealing! We still haven’t dodged it, however – Mike’s mum is planning a New Year’s Day dinner instead…

  11. Kathryn
    December 27, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Oh no! My aunt did the same bumpity-bump down her wooden stairs, cracked her tailbone, then had the pleasure of GIVING BIRTH the next day to my full-term cousin! Imagine a head sliding past that poor tailbone…

  12. JulieVR
    December 27, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I’ll stop my complaining now.

  13. Kathryn
    December 27, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Oh, complain away, my friend. Lord knows I would be if I was standing in your wool socks! And quite bitterly too.

  14. Anne
    December 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    I feel your pain.. two years ago I was heading outside in my slippers to get more wood for the fireplace and slam all the way down the stairs… two cracked ribs… sleeping in the chair and painkillers… 6 weeks later and I finally felt I could actually draw a breath… take care… Merry Christams and Happy New Year!!!

  15. Natalie
    December 27, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    So sorry – feel better soon!!

    BTW saw Julie/Julia… much more enjoyable since I have my own food blogger whom I follow 🙂 Don’t put us before your husband!!

    Happy New Year!! Weird that it has been a year since your first 365 days ended!! I remember hoping that you would continue – glad you did

  16. Brenda
    December 27, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    So sorry to hear about your accident. I hope your tailbone/back feel better soon. Happy New Year

  17. malithi
    December 27, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    I forgot to ask, this has nothing to do with the post…but what kind of ice cream maker would you recommend buying?

  18. JulieVR
    December 27, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I have a Cuisinart ice cream machine I’m happy with, but don’t have much experience with others – I bought a Krups as a gift for someone and they’re happy with it too. You can find good deals this time of year!

  19. Inga
    December 27, 2009 at 8:44 pm


    Sorry about your fall. I feel for you.

    Wanted to say I really enjoy your blog as I had a couple days off and find reading it(and often the baking of things therein) very relaxing.

    Tried the truffles and they were a HUGE hit!
    Take care of yourself and thanks again for the contribution! Will do the stollen next week-end. I made 4 (FOUR!) of the “Joy of Cooking” stollen, v. labour intensive, but SO GOOD, add marzipan to the center and they are great gifts to give to people in large chunks.

    Inga -(aka – the girl who bought your book in the PC lobby last year when you had your son nicely tucked away under the table- that still makes me giggle)

  20. Amy
    December 27, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Feel better soon Julie!

    malithi I have a Hamilton Beach ice cream maker that I love. I bought mine online at Sears but I think you can get them at Walmart for $30 or less.

  21. Lauren
    December 27, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    I hope you feel better soon Julie! This butterscotch looks perfect =D.

  22. Donna
    December 28, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Feel better soon Julie !
    Happier New Year
    thanks for another year of great ideas.

  23. jenn in niagara
    December 28, 2009 at 9:25 am

    holy crap…that was a fun night i imagine! like many other fans, i too have taken a fall down the stairs…and if you dont mind a suggestion, i went to the health store and bought a cream called arnica, it helps with bruising and sprains…a miracle cream it was for me…they also make a pill with arnica in it, it works from the inside out!
    give it a try if you dont mind homeopathic remedies.
    love the truffles and the caramel sauce sounds awesome with very little work! will it work if i turned the sauce into a turtle by cooking it a bit longer and adding nuts then chilling it all and dipping it in chocolate…???
    happy christmas and merry new year!

  24. Nicki
    December 28, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I hope you feel better soon!

    How are you liking Cleaving? Would you recommend it as a great read, like you did with Julie and Julia?

  25. JulieVR
    December 28, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Nicki – sorry to say not at all. So far it’s nothing like Julie & Julia – and retroactively ruining it for me a little, even…

  26. small kitch cara
    December 28, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    I just made an espresso sauce that’s really similar–white sugar subbed for the brown, and a couple teaspoons of instant espresso. The combination of flavors really works–though not for the kids, I guess.

  27. Carol SB
    December 28, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I loved reading your twitter that you were watchng Amelie. The best movie ever (restores optimism when used as indicated). I can’t decide what’s my favorite part: but I do love the young Amelie, taking revenge on the neighbor (who unkindly convinced her that she was causing accidents by taking pictures of airplanes etc.), by unplugging and re-plugging in the antenna on the apartment building during his football match… hilarious!
    And something for you to look forward to: cornish hens with stovetop. And spreadable sprouts. Oh, Julie, I think you’re in enough pain already!

  28. Barb
    December 28, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Oh my. That unfortunate accident takes me right back to the time (the last time) I went toboganning with my nephew. I told him straight when we got to the hill that I wasn’t going over any jumps then proceeded to do exactly that by accident. I was airborn and my tailbone was broken. In addition to what you are already doing with the ibuprophen I suggest soaking in a hot bath. It was very soothing if only for a short time. It took about a month to heal. Sorry 🙁

  29. Natalie from Ottawa
    December 29, 2009 at 7:24 am


    So sorry to hear about your fall! I had a similiar fall about 10 years ago that still haunts me. After suffering for several months, my doctor gave me a cortizone (spelling?) shot in my tailbone, and that SAVED me! Also, instead of Ibuprofen, have you tried Aleve? (Over the counter version of Naproxen, now available in Canada). Great stuff, but take it with food in your stomach if you tend to have a sensitive tummy.

    Take Care!

  30. carla
    December 29, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    So sorry to hear about your….er….butt. However, I’ve been meaning to write all holiday about your STOLLEN!!! I had just read your post/recipe for it, and the very next evening Costco was sampling perfect little slices of powdered sugar coated stollen and I fell in love… but at $13.00 a pop (seriously????) I ran home and made your recipe and it was so yummy and earned rave reviews among the family – it’s going on the (long) tradition list FOR sure!

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