So many holdovers from English colonial days are apparent in Lowcountry cooking. Sweets of all sorts are still called puddings, and they are offered with the traditional hard sauce as accompaniment, especially during the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. A condiment for desserts, hard sauce is a Lowcountry staple. The recipe in Charleston Receipts of 1950 makes a point of calling for real butter.

Beat equal weights of butter and sugar together until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Add an egg white for every cup of butter and continue beating. Then add, a little at a time, whatever flavoring strikes your fancy or complements your dessert—a couple of tablespoons of bourbon or rum, grated lemon zest or nutmeg, or crushed mint leaves. Hard sauce is served cold (i.e., hard) to melt on the warm puddings and cobblers it tops.
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