Balsamic Butterscotch Sauce

April 23, 2013
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Makes about 2 cups
Author Notes

It's good! Pour it on bananas, apple cake, vanilla ice cream, strawberries, bread pudding, ricotta, yogurt, gingerbread, a get the picture. This recipe came about by experimenting with some cream, sugar and vinegar last week. I stirred it up, tasted it, liked it, drank the whole thing, then went forth and researched how I could apply it to a dessert.

I know I will offend someone here, but if it doesn't break your heart to use Balsamico Tradizionale in a caramel sauce, then add a spoonful or two. It's pretty darn good.

Slightly adapted from Regan Daley's recipe for Brown Sugar-Brandy Sauce in her cookbook In the Sweet Kitchen, one of my favorite, most inspiring cookbooks.

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: We call faithful Food52er mrslarkin the Scone Lady, and you should too.
WHAT: Your desserts' new best friend.
HOW: Make a standard-issue caramel sauce, and whisk in a secret ingredient. Then drizzle on everything.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Don't let the addition of an untraditional ingredient stop you from making this. The vinegar creates a bright note among the otherwise sweet, rich sauce -- which makes it okay to eat spoonful after spoonful. Good thing, because we couldn't stop at just one. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/3 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, plus a little of the really good balsamic vinegar, if you're feeling generous
  • 1 pinch flaky sea salt, for topping
  1. Place butter, sugars, and cream in a small saucepan, and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat to medium, bring the sauce to a boil, and whisk continuously for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in the vinegar, to taste. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
  3. Pour onto whatever you want (see headnote) and top with some flaky sea salt.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ali Slagle
    Ali Slagle
  • EatArt
  • Jill Jones
    Jill Jones
  • diaday
  • Kukla

56 Reviews

Weird B. September 7, 2022
I just made this kick-ass sauce - shockingly and dangerously delicious! The only thing, it is separated, the oil layer on top. Is it supposed to be?
mrslarkin September 7, 2022
Hello Weird! Soglad you like it! That hasn’t happened to me but I’ve read you can re- emulsify separated caramel by reheating gently and/or mixing in a tablespoon of very hot water. Let me know if this works out!
Weird B. September 8, 2022
I warmed it up in a microwave for 30 min. Obviously the fat melted and looks mixed in together. I have a feeling it will be separated overnight in the fridge. It's okay though, I will warm it up everytime I eat it.
Ali S. June 6, 2016
Mrslarkin -- how long will this keep in the fridge? And do you suggest rewarming before using or is it great cold?
mrslarkin June 6, 2016
Hi Ali! I haven't made it in a while, but it's got tons of sugar, so I'm pretty sure it will last a couple weeks at least in the fridge.

If you want to pour it on something, then yes, nuke it for a teeny bit. If you want to just shovel it in your mouth, cold is just fine.
Ali S. June 6, 2016
Thank you !
EatArt June 1, 2013
I love this idea! Wondering if you ever tried it with red balsamic?
mrslarkin June 1, 2013
Thanks! I stir in a spoonful of balsamico tradizionale with the white balsamic. It's crazy good.
Jill J. May 24, 2013
I really do love this recipe; it is so easy it's ridiculous if you don't make it. My whole family loved it, and my truly begged to have it sent in their lunches with fruit to dip. The addition of the balsamic makes this a sophisticated sauce that is versatile enough to use in several different ways. Mrs. Larkin, I loved it so much I wrote about it on my blog. :)
mrslarkin May 24, 2013
omg that is so great Jill! I'm honoured to be mentioned on your blog. Here's the link, folks, now go visit Jill's blog:
Jill J. May 24, 2013
My pleasure, Mrs. Larkin; honestly loved it.
diaday May 24, 2013
Back in the day when Hubs and I were dating, I went to a family reunion where he pointed out his absolute favorite dish. He called it sauce over bananas. It was a sauce like this, except Aunt Eleanor used eggs instead of cream. 30+ years ago white balsamic vinegar was nowhere to be found so she used good ole apple cider vinegar. Aunt E gave me the recipe, I made it a few times, but then it got tucked away as my recipe collection grew. Fast forward to your recipe. I surprised Hubs with it...bananas, sauce and chopped peanuts sprinkled over the top...just like he fixed it at the reunions. Thanks for bringing back memories and a favorite dessert.
mrslarkin May 24, 2013
What a great memory! Thanks for sharing, diaday, and I'm so glad you liked the sauce. I'm definitely having it with peanuts next! I had some last night on vanilla ice cream, with toasted coconut sprinkled on top. So good.
mrslarkin May 24, 2013
P.S. You have mad recipe collection skills! I'm very impressed. :)
Kukla May 18, 2013
I made the sauce Liz, and everyone loved it and asked for more. We served 2 cheese blitzes, an assortment of berries on each plate and at the table a generous drizzle of your caramel sauce over all of it. The sauce boat was empty in a couple of minutes. Next time when making for a party, I’ll double the recipe. This is great, easy, quick and very delicious caramel sauce, which can be used for so many desserts!!!
mrslarkin May 18, 2013
So glad it was enjoyed by all, Kukla! I'm going to make your pickled lettuce again, this time using kale.
fiveandspice May 16, 2013
Congrats again on being a finalist for this one! It's a knockout. :)
hardlikearmour May 15, 2013
You're the winner in my heart, mrsL!
mrslarkin May 15, 2013
aw, thanks hla!
lapadia May 14, 2013
Excellent touch to your Butterscotch, MrsL, thanks for sharing it with us!
Congrats! I'll be trying this one out soon! Sounds great!
mrslarkin May 13, 2013
Thanks M&M!
mrslarkin May 10, 2013
Thanks, guys! Hope you all give it a try! I've been afraid of making caramel forEVER and this one's super easy. And really really yummy.
EmilyC May 10, 2013
Congrats! I'll be trying this very soon, then praising/cursing your name for ever introducing me to it. Okay, just praising, promise! : )
thefood May 10, 2013
yess! this is EXACTLY the kind of recipe i was hoping someone would come up with for this contest!
hardlikearmour May 10, 2013
Congratulations! I'm actually afraid to make this -- I don't think I could stop myself from sucking it down by the pint!
grumblebee May 10, 2013
Amazing recipe! I know reduced balsamic is GORGEOUS on ice cream, but with butterscotch flavour too it becomes OUT OF THIS WORLD! :)
mrslarkin May 9, 2013
Thanks, you guys! I think I'm going to make a batch of this, Kukla's pickled lettuce, and Betty Wason's pot roast for Mother's Day. Actually, hubby is making the pot roast. I'll make everything else. :)
fiveandspice May 9, 2013
How the heck did I miss this??!! This looks completely amazing Liz! Way to go!
Lizthechef May 9, 2013
Beautiful recipe, Liz. I'm already working it into my weekend menus.
Congrats, mrslarkin! This sounds unbelievably delicious. I need to buy some white balsamic, then I plan to make this ASAP. Love that this was inspired by a recipe from In the Sweet Kitchen. That is one of my favorite cookbooks, too!
mrslarkin May 9, 2013
Isn't it great, CIV? I so love that cookbook.
Kukla May 9, 2013
Congratulations Mrs. Larkin! It is an honor to be in the same company with you! We can start a meal with my dish and have a delicious dessert using your sauce.
mrslarkin May 9, 2013
Yes! That is what I am going to do! I bought the green leaf lettuce and dill today!