This throwback holiday recipe came to us years ago—most likely via the U.S. Post Office—from Mrs. Lowell R. Wilkins, in Rome, Georgia. (And we have to wonder whether Mrs. Wilkins ever broke with tradition and mixed up an occasional batch in the summertime because her Hard Sauce probably would be amazing on a Georgia peach cobbler.) According to, Hard Sauce is “a stiff mixture of powdered sugar, butter, brandy, and spice that is served with mincemeat and Christmas puddings.” The dish, which has British origins, is usually more like a spread than a sauce and is sometimes called brandy butter (or rum butter if that’s your spirit of choice).Served cold on warm desserts, it would have about the same consistency as that butter-and-sugar blend Southern Mamas have been known to spread on white bread as a treat for the kids. Our “unleaded” version calls for vanilla extract instead of spirits. It’s closer to a thick dessert sauce than a spreadable butter and is served warm. Enjoy our Hard Sauce for plum pudding this holiday season. 

By Mrs. Lowell R. Wilkins, Rome, Georgia


Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Recipe Summary test

20 mins
20 mins
Makes 1 qt.


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan until combined. Stir in boiling water, butter, vanilla, and nutmeg. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 7 days.