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[Photograph: Lucy Baker]

Storebought butterscotch sauce can be thick, gluey, and cloyingly sweet. The homemade stuff, on the other hand, is a marvelous combination of brown sugar, butter, salt, and booze. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I decided to whip up a batch of butterscotch sauce spiked with a healthy dose of Irish whiskey.

Here is a secret: making butterscotch sauce is almost as easy as making toast. Seriously.

Get out a medium-sized pot. Throw in a lot of brown sugar, a knob of butter, a pinch of salt, some water, and just a little bit of corn syrup to keep things smooth and silky. Simmer this mixture for a few minutes. Pour in a generous amount of heavy cream and keep simmering until the sauce is syrupy, about 10 or 12 minutes.

Stir in the whiskey and a dash of vanilla and simmer for two or three minutes more to blend the flavors. There. That's it. You're done. The hardest part is waiting for the butterscotch to cool down enough that it won't melt your bowl of ice cream.

This recipe makes approximately two cups of butterscotch sauce, which is enough to fill two eight-ounce jars. It will keep for up to a month in the fridge. Give one as a gift and keep the other for yourself. Of course it's positively marvelous over ice cream, but try it over bread pudding, waffles, and pancakes as well.

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