This sweet, salty, umami butterscotch-like sauce might take a few minutes to prepare, so I stock up on it when a freakin’ weekend rolls around.






Skill level

Average: 4.8 (5 votes)

When I was first navigating my way through creating desserts for the Momofuku restaurants, I made this concoction of intentionally burnt shiro miso (shiro means white; it’s the most common type of miso) and other basic savoury pantry ingredients. I was trying to create desserts that incorporated the restaurant’s standard flavors, so there wouldn’t be a huge disconnect between dinner and what came after it.

Knowing that toasting and browning give added depth and character to otherwise one-note flavors led me to this amazing sweet, salty, umami butterscotch-like spread that works equally well for a plated dessert as it does for awesome ice-cream sundaes at home! 


  • ¼ cup shiro miso
  • 4 tbsp (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup mirin
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • vanilla ice-cream


To serve

  • toasted pecans or cinnamon sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Heat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF). 

Spread the miso in a thin even layer on a baking mat or greased baking sheet and pop it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The miso should be on the blackened side of browned (don’t be a wuss) and have an appetisingly burnt aroma. 

Let the miso cool briefly so it’s easier to handle, then scrape it into a blender. Add the butter, brown sugar, mirin, and vinegar and blend until the mixture is homogenous and smooth. You’ve got miso butterscotch! Scrape it into a bowl, or store in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for weeks.

Really need instructions to make a sundae? Fine! Grab bowls or fancy fluted glasses. Put a dollop of miso butterscotch in the bottom of each, then add a scoop of ice-cream, a fun garnish, and repeat: miso butterscotch, ice-cream, garnish. Build it high to the sky!


Recipe and image from Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi (Crown Publishing, $59.99, hbk). 


View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.