A lady we love seldom asks for a favor, so when she does, we always says, “Of course.”

A few years ago, while discussing the menu for a festive dinner at our home, we asked whether she had any particular requests.

“If we’re having turkey, would it be possible to make sure there’s dark meat?” she asked.

Done. We got extra drumsticks and thighs.

We asked what kind of dessert pie she’d like, knowing the answer would be mincemeat.

“No problem,” we said, although it turned out to be a close thing.  Our local Publix got the mince pies in just in time.

We also remembered that our loved one loves something called “Hard Sauce.”  It’s a dessert thing, we recalled, a complement to the mince pie.

Then began the search for hard sauce. We didn’t know it would be a challenge that would baffle even the best hunters of Big Foot.

Not finding anything called hard sauce on the shelves at the super market, we asked for help from the friendly staffers busy in the aisles in full holiday mode.

“ What kinds of sauce did you say?” was one response.  “Hard what?” asked another employee, scratching his sanitary hairnet. We had their attention by that point and their good intentions.

“What does it look like exactly?” asked one store employee.

“I’m not really sure,” I admitted, “but I think it comes in a jar.”

“What do you put it on, what kind of food?”

“I think it’s sweet, so on pudding or pie maybe.”

“What’s in it?”  I had no idea.

The hard sauce project escalated as assistant store managers got involved.

A supervisor in the  Deli Department asked me to follow her to the place she had last seen hard sauce. No luck there.

“I know it was right here, where the ham glaze is, right next to it,” she said, disappointed.

Maybe some hard sauce-deprived fanatic had rushed in and cleaned out the entire hard sauce stash, both jars of it.

Having been impressed at the efforts of our two super marketeers to meet the hard sauce needs of a grateful customer, I came home and turned to my primary source of information about obscure stuff — Google’s Hard Sauce Search Division. “What is hard sauce and what’s in it?” I typed nervously.

From the website of Cross & Blackwell, the secret was revealed.  I half-expected the sauce to include gold dust, maybe a touch of  frankincense and a modicum of myrrh.  But no.

This elusive substance is made of “powdered sugar, butter, salt, brandy, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils, natural and artificial flavors, mono and diglycerides and polysorbate.”

Its “nutritional” numbers are, for two tablespoons full, 180 calories, 70 of which come from fat, 8 grams of fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 carbs, 25 grams of sugar and zero protein.

Hard sauce is big in Britain, where it often is called brandy butter. Sometimes it’s made with rum or pretty much whatever booze beckons.  

Our quixotic quest for this tasty if decadent dessert enhancer made it clear why it’s called “hard” sauce.  It’s hard to find.  Eventually we scored online, where one can find anything.

I thought about asking for diet hard sauce, but that makes about as much sense as “fat free half and half.” Oh, wait. I think they have that.


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