Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sundae Sunday - Nuts about caramel

So what do you think makes a sundae a sundae?  Is it just having sauce on ice cream?  Is it adding whipped cream?  Is it the cherry on top?  Well, I have all of those today, so there's no doubt in my mind that this is a sundae. =)  I don't eat sundaes much.  I usually eat a single scoop of ice cream, plain, in a small bowl or ramekin.  Eating a small amount means I can get away with eating ice cream more often.  Occasionally I'll put some chocolate or caramel sauce on top.  But whipped cream?  Never.  And cherries?  I don't even like them. Jamie got to eat the one on this sundae; he's the one who bought the cherries in the first place, so I can make him some ice cream with roasted cherries.

But since this is Sundae Sunday, I went all out.  At the base is a waffle bowl, made from the same recipe as my cones, but sandwiched between a couple small bowls to give it shape.  The ice cream is salty caramel with pecan pralines.  (You can also find the salty caramel ice cream recipe in this Bon Appetit blog post. Thanks, Mike!)  It's topped with a sinfully sweet butterscotch sauce and topped with softly whipped cream and a cherry.

I added the pralines to the ice cream because I wanted something that wasn't too plain, and I thought they would be good with the caramel ice cream.  Initially, I was thinking of using hot fudge or some other chocolate sauce for the topping, but then I decided that I wanted to stick with the caramel theme.  Regular caramel sauce seemed too obvious; I wanted something with a little more character.  I consulted my bookshelf on Eat Your Books, looking for butterscotch sauce.  I was a bit surprised when it pointed me to my copy of Ratio, by Michael Ruhlman.  But sure enough, there was a butterscotch recipe in there.  Butter, dark brown sugar, cream, salt, vanilla, and the intriguing ingredient of cider vinegar were fairly quickly combined into a delicious topping.  As for the whipped cream, I made it by hand--I've finally learned that the best way to do that is to use a large bowl and my big balloon whisk, even for a relatively small amount of cream.  The whipping goes fast that way, and I can easily stop before the cream gets over-whipped.

The verdict?  Wow.  This sundae was totally decadent, and completely delicious.  I let the caramel for the ice cream get a little too dark, so the ice cream wasn't very sweet.  But that was okay with the pralines and sauce, both of which were quite sweet.  I don't usually go for nuts in my ice cream, but I like how the pecans were crunchy, while the praline coating melted into the ice cream.  The butterscotch sauce was wonderful--the additions of vinegar and salt really gave it an excellent flavor.

Butterscotch Sauce
(adapted from Ratio by Michael Ruhlman)

55 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
115 grams (4 ounces, or a packed half cup) dark brown sugar
115 grams (4 ounces, or half a cup) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Place the butter and brown sugar in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Cook for 5 to 10 minutes over medium heat until the sugar has completed melted into the butter and the mixture is thick and bubbly.  Remove the pan from the head and whisk in the cream.  Let the mixture cool slightly--about 5 minutes--then whisk in the vanilla, vinegar and salt.  Makes about a cup.

For more info on making the butterscotch sauce, check out this article from Shuna Fish Lydon, with great how-to photos.

And be sure to check back later this week for my Sundae Sunday round-up!


  1. This looks wonderfully decadent, Di! I love your waffle bowl and you are right - for a sundae you should go all out and have whipped cream and a cherry on top. This looks just perfect!

  2. This all looks wonderful, Di! I think I would have let the caramel get too dark on purpose for deep smoky notes in the ice cream. Thanks for the butterscotch recipe; I've given that book but not kept it! I love cherries, but not necessarily on top of all those caramel flavors. Shuna Lydon is one of my dessert heroines. I was so excited to try her creations at Peels when we were in New York in January.

  3. Um.... you DO go all out! :) Way to go.... I printed a salty caramel recipe from Jenni's that I got off of Bon Appetit's site the other day... wonder if that is the same as yours? Cream cheese and corn starch. Hm... anyway - can't wait to try the magic shell either! I'm jealous of your cones - my maker is down in the basement and destined for Goodwill I think (they just burn....)! Thanks for the wonderful Sundae Sunday Di!

  4. That sounds crazy delicious.

  5. Wow, what a sundae! Your waffle bowls look so cool. I've never wanted a waffle cone maker before, but your posts are changing that. =) I've been curious about Ratio for a long time...maybe I'll have to check it out! Thanks for hosting such a fun event. I'm excited to see the round-up, too! =)

  6. What a lovely sauce. It really sounds amazing. This is my first visit to your blog, so after digesting that wonderful sauce, I decided to do some more browsing. I'm so glad I did that. You've created a lovely spot for your readers to visit and I really enjoyed the time I spent here. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  7. mmmmm i love butterscotch!! and i'm thinking that this is a good topping for my bourbon ice cream. YUM!!

    thanks for hosting the social, it was fun, i can't WAIT to see what everyone else made!

  8. For me, a sundae needs a topping/sauce and whipped cream (and of course, ice cream). Your sundae sound fantastic - perfectly decadent :)

    Thanks for hosting the social, I am looking forward to participating on the next go round!

  9. That looks so delicious, and butterscotch is a flavor from my childhood. My mother used to make butterscotch pudding and buy butterscotch ice cream. HER mother made butterscotch brownies. Can't wait to try making this. Just thinking about it really brought me back!

  10. Fantastic...I would LOVE to sit down to all looks beautiful and sounds tasty! I figured you would showcase something chocolate over here, imagine my surprise!

  11. The butterscotch sauce sounds SO good!! Looking forward to the next virtual gathering. ;-)

  12. Hmmm this recipe looks so delicious and nice and i think that fits perfect with my taste. Even it doesen`t like a very easy recipe i think i will try it. Thanks for sharing.

  13. WoW! that looks very tempting.. makes me drool just by looking at those pics.=D