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Buttermilk Caramel Syrup, Dessert Sauce To-Die-For

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Growing up in the mountains of Tennessee, it wasn't often that we were able to get real maple syrup. Not that it was ridiculously expensive, it just simply didn't appear in our grocery stores very often. We were of course able to get all manner of maple flavored syrups, but those of course just aren't the same, and half the time when Mama or Granny made pancakes or French Toast, they'd whipped up a quick homemade syrup of caramelized brown sugar. We loved that stuff, and I still make it oftne for my own children. It tasted so much better than the imitation maple stuff that we preferred it.

Years ago I was poking around some cookbooks and came across several vintage recipes for syrups, sauces and candies that used buttermilk as a base. I was fascinated, especially by the syrup that sounded so close to what I'd had as a child. I made the first batch, and was absolutey hooked. My kids ended up clustered around the measuring cup after breakfast, dipping the remainder out with spoons. My youngest requests his 'caramel' sauce at every possible moment. It's luscious - rich, buttery and intensely caramel in flavor, with just a hint of tang in the background from the buttermilk, which provides the perfect balance.

I used it for years on just plain old pancakes, and it was awesome, but never seemed to come up often enough. Then I read a carrot cake recipe with a glaze of buttermilk sauce between the layers and a lightbulb appeared above my head. This stuff can go anywhere! Not just carrot cake, where the sauce keeps the layers decadently moist, but apple cakes, crepes, French Toast and waffles, on poached pears and baked apples, with pecans and walnuts in all sorts of applications. Tweak it and it becomes fudge candy.

Better yet - it goes together in moments, cooks for just ten minutes, and it's ready to go. No candy thermometers to mess with, no special equipment, and it keeps for several days. You may find yourself doing what we do - simply dipping little spoonfuls out from time to time. And that's just fine with me! The taste is one of those beautiful things that feels silky on the tongue and lingers for a few moments with a sweet, buttery glow. Mmmmmm. Bombshell Baby.

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The Recipe!

You'll need:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 stick butter, salted - or if unsalted add a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium with a very heavy bottom. Make sure the saucepan is large enough - the sauce will expand a good bit during cooking, and you don't want a spillover.
  2. Stir constantly unti sugar dissolves, then continue cooking for about ten minutes. The sauce will turn a deep, rich caramel color when done, and begin to thicken. The time isn't as important as the final color - look at the pictures with this article for a guide.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, then stir in vanilla. Pour into a container, gravy boat, syrup jug or something else that will allow easy pouring.
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Note: sometimes the sauce develops a foam on top - sometimes it doesn't. I have no idea why. If yours does, allow the sauce to 'settle' and either just skim it off with a spoon, or stir it right back in. The sauce will be more clear if the foam is skimmed off, but it doesn't affect the taste at all, and I usually don't bother, especially if using as a glaze between apple, spice or carrot cake layers.

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Jan Charles (author) from East Tennessee on April 23, 2012:

You're more than welcome! This is one of our favorites!

Ben on April 22, 2012:

Been looking for a simple sause like this "forever". Thanks!!

Jan Charles (author) from East Tennessee on January 17, 2012:

Thank you!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on January 15, 2012:

This syrup is awesome!! Thank you!

Jan Charles (author) from East Tennessee on November 03, 2010:

Thanks Cybersupe! It really is good - hope you love it like we do!

CYBERSUPE from MALVERN, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A. on November 03, 2010:

Awesome looking pudding. Must get wife to try this. WOW!

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