Butter Blues

Why is caramel suddenly on every hot restaurant’s dessert menu, while butterscotch has long been relegated to mass-produced pudding cups? The Washington Post offers some compelling theories—one being that pastry chefs don’t know what real butterscotch tastes like. Shuna Fish Lydon of eggbeater (who first lamented the shunning of the ‘scotch in a post last summer) explains to the Post:

“Even really famous San Francisco pastry chefs aren’t making homemade butterscotch” when they do serve butterscotch-flavored desserts, he wrote in an e-mail. “They’re using the chips and/or adding Scotch, both of which are very, very wrong.”

The real deal is made with just caramelized sugar and butter, cooked to a seductive golden-brown. And that word, butter—with its connotations of sinful saturated-fattiness—may be another of the downtrodden dessert’s problems in this dieting-obsessed country.

It wouldn’t be the first food with that word in the name to provoke negative reactions. One might think that in chowish circles people would know that buttermilk is actually quite low in lipids, but I feel like I’m always hearing otherwise educated eaters refer to it as rich and fatty.

And like butterscotch, most buttermilk that is on the commercial market these days is a crude approximation of the real thing: Instead of simply selling the liquid that remains when butter is churned, dairy companies generally create “buttermilk” by adding a culture of lactic acid bacteria to pasteurized milk (most often nonfat milk) and it may or may not have added butter flecks(!). True buttermilk is hard to come by in the States—but is it also, as rumor has it, illegal?

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