Butterscotch cookies starting with hard candy.
Lollipop Butterscotch by ValerieZinger, on Flickr
Traditional butterscotch is a combination of butter and brown sugar boiled to the soft crack stage, though recipes will sometimes include other ingredients, like molasses, salt, corn syrup, vanilla, or other flavorings.
One thing that traditional recipes never included? Liquor. Theories as to why the word scotch became part of the name include a relationship to an archaic word for cutting (as in, cutting the candy before it hardens) and that it might be derived from the word scorch, as the sugar has to be broken down by heat to achieve the desired result. So things that identify their flavor as “butter rum” might well have rum, but things identified as “butterscotch” are fun for the whole family.
A from-scratch, coconut-and-nuts version of the recipe, with some notes on variations, was provided in the June 21, 1962 edition of The Victoria (Texas) Advocate:
A new form for butterscotch, prepared butterscotch pieces, provides an easy way to give desserts this flavor. Combined with peanut butter and oven-toasted rice cereal, butterscotch pieces form Scotch Treats. This confection may be shaped into drops or squares. Such additions as coconut or peanuts afford variety. Or, use the mixture for the shell of an ice cream pie.
Butterscotch pieces also appear in such cookies as Bran Flakes Blondes. If you wish, trim these bar cookies with a baked-on topping of coconut or nutmeats.
1 cup sifted flour
Sift together flour, soda and salt. Blend butter and sugar; add egg and vanilla. Stir in sifted dry ingredients together with whole bran cereal. Fold in nutmeats and coconut. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake in moderate oven (350 degree F.) about 12 minutes.
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies, 2 inches in diameter.
From the box of C.C. from Ceres, California.
Melt 1 6-oz. package butterscotch drops — 1/2 cup butter over hot water (not boiling).
Cool and add:
1 beaten egg
1-1/3 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/3 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Add to mixture.
Chill 1 hour. Roll in 12″ roll and chill several hours. Slice and bake 350 deg. — 8 to 10 minutes. Cool in pan.