Difference in 2 sweet treats

Burning Questions

January 30, 2008|By Kathleen Purvis | Kathleen Purvis,McClatchy-Tribune

What's the difference between butterscotch and caramel?

Before I answer, let's pause and say it together: "Mmmmm. Butterscotch." You just don't see enough butterscotch these days.

So what's the difference? Technically, caramel is granulated sugar that has been melted and heated until it is brown but not burned, ranging from 320 to 350 degrees.

You can add water to make it thinner, and you can add cream or milk to make soft caramel. (Add them carefully, though - hot sugar sputters like sugar lava.)

Butterscotch is usually a mixture of brown sugar and butter, although there are recipes that use sugar, butter, cream and vanilla.

Where the name "butterscotch" came from is lost to history. Contrary to some tales, it doesn't contain whisky and it's probably not from Scotland.

Scotch is an old word for "scorch," so it could come from browning sugar. But it also is an old word for "score," or drawing lines. So it could refer to marking the soft mixture so it could be broken later.

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