Get Saucy Series: How Sweet It Is

A scoop of ice cream is just that — but get out the chocolate sauce, and it’s a sundae! With a jar of homemade caramel or chocolate sauce in the fridge, all seems right with the world. Unlike savory sauces that often are made to suit a particular dish, sweet sauces keep well in the fridge and can be served with many foods. Fresh fruit, cheesecake, angel food cake, even cookies turn into something special with a drizzle of sauce. Homemade dessert sauces also make great gifts — nothing says “I love you” like a pretty jar of Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce tied with a ribbon.

In the pantheon of sweet sauces, egg-y rich crème anglaise and caramel sauce reign. While crème anglaise and caramel sauce rely on skill and science, a simple chocolate sauce is more forgiving — as are fruit sauces, generally whisked up from cooked fresh fruits.

Crème Anglaise

Recipe by Jill Melton, MS, RD

A simple mixture of egg yolks, milk or cream, sugar and vanilla, crème anglaise is great to make when you have an abundance of egg yolks. But egg yolks are tricky and prone to curdling, so a few pointers: Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar just before adding to the custard, or else the yolks will become sticky and leave little clumps of yolk in the sauce. Once the hot milk is steeped with the vanilla, you need to temper the egg yolks. This means adding a small amount of hot milk to the yolk mixture, stirring, and then adding that mixture back to the hot milk. It’s also necessary to heat slowly and stir fairly constantly to prevent curdling. Lastly, be patient. Crème anglaise cannot be rushed! A slow, low heat will create a silky sauce.

2 cups 2% low-fat (or whole) milk
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt


  1. Scrape vanilla seeds into milk in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat. Do not let boil.
  2. Remove from heat and let steep with vanilla 30 minutes.
  3. Reheat milk mixture. Whisk eggs and sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Pour ¼ of hot milk mixture into egg mixture. Whisk.
  4. Return egg mixture to milk in saucepan. Cook 5 minutes or until thick and thermometer registers 180°F.
  5. Remove from heat. Chill.
  6. Serve with fresh berries, particularly fresh raspberries for an elegant dessert.

Nutrition Information
Serves 4.
Serving size: ¼ cup

Calories: 82; Total fat: 3g; Saturated fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 97mg; Sodium: 48mg; Carbohydrates: 10g; Fiber: 0g; Sugars: 9g; Protein: 3g; Potassium: 95mg; Phosphorus: 89mg

Note: Vanilla bean not included; insignificant contribution.

Berry Balsamic Coulis

Recipe by Jill Melton, MS, RD

The simplest fruit sauce is typically called a coulis (koo-LEE), a purèe of raw fruit, typically berries.

12 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries or strawberries
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1⁄3 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt


  1. Place berries in blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth.
  2. Add vinegar and sugar. Pulse until smooth.
  3. Serve over pound cake, angel food cake, ice cream or pudding.

Nutrition Information
Serves 5.
Serving size: ¼ cup

Calories 64; Total fat 0g; Saturated fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 33mg; Carbohydrates: 15g; Fiber: 1g; Sugars: 13g; Protein: 1g; Potassium: 119mg; Phosphorus: 19mg

Butterscotch Bourbon Sauce

Recipe by Jill Melton, MS, RD

4 tablespoons butter
2⁄3 cup light brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons bourbon


  1. Combine butter, sugar, cream and salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Remove from heat.
  2. Add vanilla and bourbon. Stir. Let cool.
  3. Store in refrigerator. Serve over pears, apples or ice cream.

Nutrition Information
Serves 24.
Serving size: 2 tablespoons

Calories: 118; Total fat: 8g; Saturated fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 24mg; Sodium: 18mg; Carbohydrates: 12g; Fiber: 0g; Sugars: 12g; Protein: 0g; Potassium: 26mg; Phosphorus: 8mg

Note: Bourbon not included; insignificant contribution.

Rich Chocolate Coffee Sauce

Recipe by Jill Melton, MS, RD

Use a high-quality milk or dark chocolate — at least 60% cocoa butter. Add a pinch of hot red pepper for a kick!

1 cup half and half
1 tablespoon espresso powder
5 ounces chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Combine the cream and the espresso. Stir well and heat over medium heat until hot. Do not boil.
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add butter and vanilla and whisk until glossy and smooth.
  4. Chill.

Nutrition Information
Serves 24
Serving size: 2 tablespoons

Calories: 114; Total fat: 9g; Saturated fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 13mg; Sodium: 10mg; Carbohydrates: 7g; Fiber: 1g; Sugars: 5g; Protein: 1g; Potassium: 103mg; Phosphorus: 51mg

Note: Assumed dark chocolate 60-69% cacao solids.

Jill Melton
Jill Melton, MS, RD, is editor and founder of Edible Nashville Magazine.