Last year, for the 4th, I suggested a Butterscotch Roll-up Cake. The cake was rolled in a combination of whipped cream and rich butterscotch sauce that had been folded into one diabetic dream. Butterscotch is a variant of caramel and, when well made, is outrageously satisfying. Just a tad can make all the difference to a dessert.
This year, I project we go more healthy. Here’s the recipe just for the sauce which is lovely on ice cream. Look for a deeply rich French vanilla that can mate with the butterscotch and not be overwhelmed.
I have always presumed that butterscotch had to an ancient treat devised by Scottish clans to deal with those nasty winters or invaders from England. Not true. Perhaps because it uses what would have been pricey ingredients — butter and brown sugar — it is recent, first appearing in the literature only in 1848. And then it was described as “Doncaster Butterscotch” from the town of Doncaster right smack in the middle of England. The “scotch” part may come from an old verb “to cut or to score.” Nothing to do with geography. Here the recipe is designed, not for cutting, but for pouring.
Although, I am told that a desperate man, with a full set of lungs, can use a straw and not a spoon.
Yield: ~2 cups
- 1/3 cup [3 ounces] salted butter
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon whisky
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Dump in the brown sugar all at once and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to simmer and changes from a wet sand consistency to a liquid that fives off a lovely molasses smell and looks like taffy, approximately 3 minutes from the time it comes to a simmer. Drizzle ¼ cup of the cream into the mixture and vigorously blend the cram into the sugar and whisk in the remaining cream. Turn the heat up to medium-high and allow the sauce to boil, whisking occasionally, until it has darkened, about 8 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the sauce to cool for a few minutes before adding the whisky, vanilla, and salt. Refrigerate until cold.
Source: Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
“What are you blogging today?” my wife Suzen asked me.
I don’t get asked every day and when I am asked, it comes in two forms. There is the “I’m curious what you are going to please people with today” voice that I love. And, then, of course, there is the “One more cocktail or cheesy dip or frosted brownie and I’m going to scream at you, again” voice that I fear.
I fear it because of guilt. I know. This blog is not balanced. I’m sorry. I’m working on it. I’m in multiple 12-step programs. Thing is, Step 7 in Program A does not match Step 7 in Program B.
Or as my sponsors say, I am out of step.
And, I am about to blog some cheesy things in the coming days so, to preempt her angst, I’m going to post something modestly healthy: chili nuts with options.
In moderation, as with all things, nuts are fine. Unsalted nuts are better. So, for party appetizers instead of cheese and crackers, or a cheesy dip for the crudité, or queso something for the chips — I am making myself drool her, seriously — instead of all that why not offer some chili nuts that are satisfying, healthy and pair with anything from beer to sangria.
This recipe comes with options for you: the nuts, the spices, the liquid used to first bond nuts and spice. I’ve seen oven temperatures range from 250° to 325° with baking times from 45 down to 15 minutes. What should you do? Pick a temperature and monitor your nuts along the way. If you can smell them baking, you’re done.
Actually, my recipe below uses more liquid than other recipes, so I would suspect that a longer baking time is wise.
Brian’s Chili Nuts
Yield: 3 cups
- 3 cups unsalted nuts: peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans, even chickpeas [mixed if you desire]
- 3 tablespoons liquid: lime juice or olive oil, depending on your flavor preference [I love lime]
- 1 tablespoon salt [omit if your nuts are salted, but add if the nuts are not salted; it’s for flavor]
- 4 tablespoons total of dry spices: chili powder, ground pepper, garlic powder, ground cumin, celery salt, cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, ground allspice [and anything that makes your tongue tingle]
Preheat the oven to 250°. Line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil.
In a small bowl, add the nuts and then the liquid. Mix with your hands to ensure the nut surface is coated evenly. If necessary, because of all the cracks and crevices in the nuts, add additional liquid.
Wash and dry your hands. Make the spice mixture. Work down in quantity in the order of spices shown above. For example, use more chili powder than allspice. Remember that a little cumin goes a long way. Celery salt has a wonderful flavor, if you like it. The best way to proceed here is to work your way along, stopping to taste test until you have the balance and the heat you like.
Sprinkle half, just half, of your spice mixture over the nuts. Mix by hand. If necessary add more spice but remember you are looking to impart flavor, not coat the nuts in sheet of molecules that will sparkle on your tongue. Less is more.
Spread the nuts in a single layer on the prepared sheet, put in the heated oven, and bake for around 30 minutes. Be alert for smells telling you the nuts are done. Every 15 minutes, stir the nuts so they do not stick and do taste test along the way.
Source: Brian O’Rourke
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/28 for 1/100th second at ISO‑2000