What is the difference between butterscotch, caramel, and toffee?

  • I've always thought they were the same. Tonight I noticed a slight taste difference as compared to caramel when I had some "butterscotch" for the first time in a while. Now my assumptions have been thrown to the wind. Is butterscotch essentially caramel plus some liquor?

  • hobodave

    hobodave Correct answer

    10 years ago

    Butterscotch and caramel are very different things. The taste difference between the two is far from 'slight' in my opinion.

    Caramel is typically made with granulated sugar, milk and/or cream, butter, and sometimes vanilla. The primary flavors of caramel are the sugar and milk/cream.

    Butterscotch on the other hand is made with brown sugar. It's primary flavors are brown sugar and butter. It typically also contains milk/cream but they are not as prominent as caramel.

    Toffee is butterscotch that has been cooked to the hard-crack stage.

    There is no liquor in butterscotch.

    There is a lot of leeway in what things get called caramel, butterscotch, and toffee. The important differences to keep in mind are that caramel is made with granulated sugar, whereas toffee and butterscotch are made with brown sugar and much more butter.

    interesting, wondering if you've ever had sticky toffee pudding? It's basically an awesome cake on top of a pool of "toffee". I'm wondering if the toffee is technically butterscotch because its in a liquid stage.

    Doug, google "stick date pudding". It's the more delicious dish on which sticky toffee pudding was originally based (and is in no way lacking in toffee, nor bad for people who don't like eating dates). You'll thank me.

    Actually, caramel is not made with "milk and/or cream, butter, and sometimes vanilla". While US recipes are fond of adding these things to caramel, they are not an essential part of the definition.

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