Hard Sauce; Brandy or Whiskey Sauce

Canadian Whiskeys

Canadian Whiskeys

by Cat, Jan 2008 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons

See also: 1. Dessert Sauces

Includes: 1. Hard Sauce (Whiskey & Butter Sauce); 2. Whiskey Sauce; 3. Brandy sauce These are old-fashioned sauces used for old-fashioned desserts, such as steamed puddings, bread pudding, and gingerbread.

Hard Sauce (Butter-Whiskey Sauce)

Hard sauce is mandatory with Plum (Christmas) Pudding and Bread Puddings, but is equally delicious with many other desserts. This version is adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (1), and specifies powdered sugar, but superfine granulated sugar will also work.  My preference is Rapadura powdered sugar (from dried sugar cane juice), or Make Your Own Unrefined Powdered Sugar.  Maple sugar is another alternative which I’ve never tried; it would lend a light maple flavor to the hard sauce. When properly chilled, hard sauce takes on the ‘hardness’ of cold butter, and is not a pourable sauce.  One attractive way to serve hard sauce is to spoon it into a decorative mold before chilling, then place a formed sauce on top of each dessert serving.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • about 1 cup Rapadura powdered sugar (or Make Your Own Unrefined Powdered Sugar) or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp brandy, rum, bourbon or whiskey
  • small bowl
  • electric mixer


  1. Beat softened butter on high speed until fluffy and light, about 5 minutes.
  2. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until it won’t hold anymore, then stir in vanilla or brandy.
  3. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

 Whiskey Sauce

This recipe is adapted from the Irish Heritage Cookbook (2).  If you don’t have a double boiler, you can use a heavy bottomed saucepan, but you will need to watch the cooking mixture very closely so that the eggs don’t curdle.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp whiskey or bourbon
  • small saucepan
  • double boiler
  • small bowl
  • electric mixer


  1. In saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until it just begins to boil around the edges.  Remove from heat, and pour into top of double boiler.
  2. In small bowl, whisk together the honey and egg yolks until light and fluffy.  Whisk yolk mixture into warm milk.
  3. Place top of double boiler over lower part with water.  Simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in whiskey and serve.

Brandy Sauce

This is adapted from Wonderful Wonderful Danish Cooking, by Ingaborg  Dahl Jensen.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 1 cup Rapadrua sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4 Tbsp dry vermouth (or other dry white wine)
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp brandy or cognac
  • double boiler


  1. Mix sugar, yolks and white wine in top of double boiler.
  2. Bring water to a boil in bottom of a double boiler, then set the top of the double boiler (with the egg mixture) on top and commence to beat until thick.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and brandy until well-mixed.


  1. Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, New and Revised, copyright 1986, 1978, 1969 by General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis MN
  2. Irish Heritage Cookbook, by Margaret M. Johnson, copyright 1999, published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco CA

About Cat

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