I was six years old when my love affair with butterscotch began. My grandmother always had a stash of mixed hard candy in the bottom of her purse, and whenever she took me bowling, she would let me dig through her big burgundy handbag in search of cellophane-wrapped goodies. I didn’t mind the occasional peppermint because they reminded me of Christmas, and I insisted on trying to eat the red-hot cinnamon discs, even though they burned my tongue. But the real objects of my affection were little butterscotch rounds, salty and sweet, wrapped in gold and equally treasured.
Fast-forward thirty years, and these sundaes are my ode to butterscotch in all its gooey, buttery glory. The star of the show is homemade butterscotch sauce, spooned over the ice cream and used to make a shortcut version of Bananas Foster to put on top. A handful of crushed salted almonds is all it needs to be positively swoon-worthy.
Butterscotch Banana Sundaes
To make one pint Butterscotch Sauce:
1/2 c. best quality unsalted butter (8 Tbsp. or one stick; I like Cabot Creamery)
2 Tbsp. golden syrup (see these recipe notes for more info; can substitute light corn syrup)
1/4 c. water
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. demerara or light brown sugar (I use demerara to stay sulfite-free)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or real vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Heat the butter, golden syrup, and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the butter melts completely. Stir in both kinds of sugar and the salt and bring mixture to a boil. Cook until the sauce reaches 245F and turns pale brown, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in heavy cream until completely incorporated. Add vanilla and lemon juice and stir again, then pour into a glass jar and allow to cool. This keeps at room temperature for several days, or it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two months; simply reheat in microwave before using.
To make four Butterscotch Banana Sundaes:
1/2 c. homemade butterscotch sauce
2 large bananas
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 c. ice cream, preferably all-natural (my favorite flavors with this are vanilla, butter almond, or coffee)
2 Tbsp. crushed salted almonds
Cut bananas into 1/2″-thick chunks. (I like to slice mine on the bias because I’m fancy like that. ;) In a small sauté pan, stir together 1/4 c. butterscotch sauce, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice. Heat over medium-low until sauce begins to thin, then add sliced bananas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bananas soften and start to look blurry around the edges, 2-3 minutes. Remover from heat and set aside until bananas are warm but not hot, so it doesn’t make a complete puddle of your ice cream.
When ready to serve, scoop 1/2 cup of ice cream into each of four small bowls. Spoon one tablespoon plain butterscotch sauce over the top of each serving, then top each sundae with 1/4 of the cooked butterscotch bananas and the warm sauce from the pan. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of almonds over each serving, add a spoon, and enjoy.
My butterscotch sauce recipe is adapted from one in the March 2008 issue of Saveur magazine. Saveur is one of my favorite food magazines, and this recipe came from one of my favorite special issues, entitled “The Beauty of Butter.” My sentiments exactly. ;)