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Butterscotch ice cream typically refers to any type of ice cream that contains an element of butterscotch. Typically, most ice cream flavors that have this name combine the ingredients needed to make butterscotch with the ingredients needed to make ice cream, creating a consistent butterscotch flavor throughout the entire frozen dessert. Some ice cream manufacturers, however, refer to butterscotch ice cream as an ice cream flavor that contains liquid ripples of butterscotch or hard chunks of butterscotch candy.
Strictly speaking, butterscotch contains brown sugar and melted butter, but some recipes also contain other ingredients. A butterscotch sauce often includes cream or condensed milk. Some sauces might also contain trace amounts of rum. As a brittle candy, however, butterscotch rarely includes many additional ingredients, but some recipes make use of small amounts of vanilla extract and white sugar, in addition to brown sugar.
A butterscotch ice cream recipe that completely combines the flavor of butterscotch throughout the ice cream directly adds the butterscotch ingredients to the ice cream ingredients before it is frozen. The melted butter, brown sugar and any other ingredient that is meant to add dimension to the butterscotch flavor or texture are combined first and melted together. The milk or cream that is used to make the ice cream, along with any additional sugar or vanilla flavoring, are then combined and mixed into the butterscotch before freezing.
Ice cream that contains waves of butterscotch is often referred to as butterscotch ripple. The ice cream maker prepares the butterscotch sauce and sets it aside. He or she then makes the ice cream — typically vanilla ice cream — and begins freezing it. After the ice cream partially freezes, the cook drizzles in the cooled butterscotch sauce, slowly mixing it into the ice cream without thoroughly combining it. The ice cream must then finish freezing.
To make ice cream that contains pieces of butterscotch candy, one needs to have a recipe for a standard ice cream base as well as a separate recipe for hard butterscotch. Vanilla ice cream typically works best in this case. This is because the vanilla flavoring of the ice cream blends well with the flavor of the candy pieces.
The ingredients for the butterscotch candy are combined and melted together before being poured into a pan and set aside to cool. Before it is completely cooled, the butterscotch must be cut or broken into chunks of the desired size. After cooling completely, the candy chunks get added to the ice cream. This step can be done before freezing the ice cream, in the middle of the freezing process or after the freezing is finished.
Additionally, some butterscotch ice cream varieties contain other elements, such as pecan chunks or cinnamon. These extra flavors are added into the ice cream in a separate step from the butterscotch. In these instances, the manufacturer or recipe writer typically specifies the other elements that are present in the ice cream in the title of the ice cream flavor, rather than merely referring to the ice cream only as butterscotch ice cream.