Contrary to its name, hard sauce is not actually a sauce at all. This traditional, old-fashioned British recipe calls for creaming softened butter with sugar, creating more of a spreadable consistency than a smooth, pourable one. Regardless of its name, this delectable sauce is often flavored with rum or brandy but can include vanilla extract instead, making the dessert condiment ideal for little ones.
Hard sauce is often served with warm desserts, such as bread pudding, plum pudding, or hasty pudding as well as other sweets like gingerbread and fruitcake. When rum or brandy are used (in which case the sauce may be referred to as "rum butter" or "brandy butter" respectively), hard sauce is commonly part of the Christmas and New Year's dessert buffet alongside Christmas pudding and mince pie.
- 1/2 cup butter (softened slightly)
- 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar (sifted)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 2 tablespoons rum or brandy
- With a standing or hand-held mixer, cream butter with confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla extract or rum or brandy until combined.
- Serve with warm bread pudding or another warm dessert.
Tips and Additional Recipes
For this recipe, it is very important that your butter is soft but not mushy. You don't want it to be cold, straight from the fridge, but it also shouldn't be room temperature.
If your butter is still somewhat hard it won't blend properly and can't become creamy and spreadable; if it is too soft it will create a consistency that is too smooth to be characteristic of hard sauce.
Adding sauces to desserts may not be something you think of doing, but it sure does enhance the sweet experience! There are plenty of toppings to bring to the dessert table—beside whipped cream—including a maple cream sauce, which takes maple syrup to a whole new level with the addition of cream, making it ideal for topping bread pudding or even cheesecake. Butterscotch sauce is always a favorite over vanilla ice cream but is even more divine drizzled over a bread pudding.
If you feel inspired by this recipe for hard sauce and want to make another type of sweet flavored butter spread, a simple maple butter may do the trick. With just two ingredients—butter and maple syrup—you will create a tasty spread to put on muffins, pancakes, dinner rolls, or even alongside a piece of cake.