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What is Butterscotch?

Amy Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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Butterscotch is that buttery, more-flavorful-than-caramel taste that flavors dessert sauces and hard candy. It is also a color.

Most people know butterscotch from the hard candy drops available in stores everywhere. One candy company produces a “butter rum” flavor which is similar. Even though no alcohol is present, it tends to have a sort of liquor-ish flavor that is probably due to the heated sugar. Its history originates in England and the “scotch” part of the name may be derived from the word “scorch,” since the sugar is heated to a fairly high temperature.

Butterscotch candy can be made at home by combining sugar, corn syrup, water and vinegar and heating it to hard crack stage — 300°F or 149°C. The candy is then dropped by teaspoonfuls on a buttered cookie sheet and allowed to cool to make the old-fashioned candy.

Along with hot fudge, butterscotch is a popular dessert sauce and ice cream topping. A home recipe includes dark brown sugar, light corn syrup, butter, heavy cream, milk and cornstarch. The mixture is cooked until it thickens into a syrup. It does not harden like candy, and is used on ice cream, over fruit and for other sweet treats.

Brownies, cookies and cakes may have a butterscotch flavor, and frosting with this flavor is popular, as well. Butterscotch “chips” — like chocolate chips — are available in many places and used in recipes from brownies to fudge. It is even a popular pudding flavor. Recipes for butterscotch goodies are available in cookbooks, on the backs of mix boxes and on the Internet.

Sometimes, something is referred to as a being a butterscotch color. This usually means a tawny sort of yellow — not quite light brown, but not true yellow, either. Horses may be described as having this color, for instance.

Butterscotch may not be quite as popular for desserts as chocolate, but it is always a sweet change of pace. With the variety of recipes available, any cook can incorporate it into something delicious.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Amy Pollick
By Amy Pollick , Former Writer
Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at DelightedCooking. With experience in various roles and numerous articles under her belt, she crafts compelling content that informs and engages readers across various platforms on topics of all levels of complexity.

Discussion Comments

By anon247503 — On Feb 13, 2012

A salted butterscotch frosting over a yellow cake might be an interesting variation on the traditional butterscotch. I made an apple cake with a salted caramel frosting. A salted butterscotch frosting would probably have been very tasty, too.

Amy Pollick

Amy Pollick

Former Writer

Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at DelightedCooking...
Learn more
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