A traditional Hard Sauce recipe (aka Brandy Butter recipe) that’s quick and easy to make and will add extra flavor, moisture, and exquisite yumminess to your warm desserts! It’s an absolute MUST for a traditional Christmas spread!
This traditional brandy butter comes together in just minutes and will do wonders for your hot desserts!
What is Hard Sauce / Brandy Butter?
Hard Sauce, as it is called in the United States, is a sweetened butter flavored with brandy that is placed on top of hot desserts where it melts into a creamy, buttery sauce. The sauce originated in England where it is known more quaintly as Brandy Butter.
Brandy Butter can be made with brandy (hence its name), rum, cognac, sherry or whiskey, depending on your personal preference. In England, brandy butter that’s made with rum is specific to the Cumbria region of northern England where it is known as Cumberland Rum Butter.
To call it hard “sauce” is something of a misnomer as the consistency is fairly firm and spreadable. However, as it is placed on a warm dessert (which is the customary way of serving it), it melts into what could be described as a dessert sauce. Brandy butter should not be confused with brandy sauce which is a liquid sauce made of milk, butter, flour and sugar.
Brandy butter is very quick and easy to make and keeps for a long time in the fridge – the perfect sweet condiment to have on hand for the holidays and beyond!
Straight out of the fridge the brandy butter will be very firm (as pictured below) but that’s fine if you’re adding a dollop to hot desserts. If the desserts are merely “warm”, let the brandy butter come to room temp until it’s softened and spreadable.
How Do You Serve Hard Sauce/Brandy Butter?
It is used with hot desserts so that when you spread the brandy butter on it immediately melts into a sauce.
It’s traditionally served with steamed puddings (like Christmas pudding), fruitcakes, mincemeat pie, gingerbread, bread pudding, pies, cobblers, crisps, and anything else that’s warm that you think will benefit from this delicious butter sauce!
Get our recipe for traditional Christmas Pudding! (Also known as plum pudding and figgy pudding.)
Get our recipe for the best ever mincemeat pie!
You can also enjoy this brandy butter with our ultimate Sticky Toffee Pudding!
How Long Does Hard Sauce Keep?
Covered and stored in the refrigerator, it will keep for several months.
Can I Add More Brandy?
We recommend sticking with the standard amount, or least not much more, otherwise you run the risk of your butter curdling.
How Do I Make Non-Alcoholic Hard Sauce?
You can simply omit the alcohol and have a vanilla-infused sauce. Another option is to use a little imitation rum extract. You can also add some of the flavor variations below.
This recipe is for a traditional brandy butter but feel free to experiment with other flavors such as some lemon or orange zest, or pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg. You can also alter the sugars: Substitute some brown sugar or muscavado for a deeper flavor and color. For a bit of crunch you can use a coarse grain sugar. For the alcohol you can use rum, cognac, sherry, or whiskey if you prefer.
How to Make Hard Sauce / Brandy Butter
Let’s get started!
Place the softened butter in a medium mixing bowl and beat for several minutes until pale and fluffy.
Add the sugar and continue to beat until smooth. Avoid over-beating otherwise the brandy butter will become oily.
Add the brandy one tablespoon at a time, beating between additions, along with the vanilla. Beat just until combined.
Cover and refrigerate it for at least two hours before serving, preferably overnight or maximum flavor. Remove it from the fridge at least a couple of hours before serving so it can come to room temp. The texture should be soft and spreadable. To store it keep it in the fridge where it will last for several months.
Spread on hot desserts such as steamed pudding, mincemeat pie, bread pudding, fruitcake, gingerbread, cobblers, crisps, and pies!
For more delicious dessert sauces be sure to try our:
- Cherry Sauce
- English Toffee Sauce
- Eggnog Custard
- Custard (Creme Anglaise)
- Honey Peach Cardamom Sauce
- Caramel Sauce
Hard Sauce (Brandy Butter)
- 1/2 cup (110 grams) unsalted butter , softened but not liquid
- 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) powdered sugar (aka confectioner's sugar)
- 2 tablespoons brandy (can substitute rum, cognac, sherry, whiskey), **non-alcoholic version: use 1 teaspoon imitation rum extract or simply omit it for a vanilla-infused hard sauce)
- 1/2 teaspoon quality pure vanilla extract (optional but we like to include it)
- **for flavor variations see blog post above
- Place the softened butter in a medium mixing bowl and beat for several minutes until pale and fluffy.Add the sugar and continue to beat until smooth. Avoid over-beating otherwise the brandy butter will become oily.Add the brandy one tablespoon at a time, beating between additions, along with the vanilla. Beat just until combined.Cover and refrigerate the hard sauce for at least two hours before serving, preferably overnight or maximum flavor. Remove it from the fridge at least a couple of hours before serving so it can come to room temp. The texture should be soft and spreadable. To store it keep it in the fridge where it will last for several months.