The Milky, Buttery Way

This post is dedicated to my old college roommate and best friend Nerissa, who will forever be a lover of butter.

This post is dedicated to my old college roommate and best friend Nerissa, who will forever be a lover of butter.

OIsn't there just something about real butter that's not only delicious, but kind of rebellious?  I think the nutritional tide is starting to turn, but as a chid of the eighties, I remember butter being a) relegated to the evil wasteland of saturated fat and  b) totally off limits for toast– butter was for my mama's pound cakes.  Instead, we were subjected to the slightly plasticky weirdness of margarine.  The eighties were a time of ignorance (on many fronts...dun-dun-dun-dun! Imperial!) when it comes to trans fats, but you live and you learn.   Then you allow yourself to be folded back into the warm, creamy embrace of real butter.

I remember the first time I told my roommate Nerissa that I made butter from scratch.  Her eyes widened in disbelief as I could see the thoughts of me in a milkmaid's outfit churning butter flit through her head.  No need to break out your blue bonnet; you can impress all of your friends with fluffy clouds of the good stuff in as little as twenty minutes.  We're going to up the ante though— we'll knock their socks off with homemade compound butters.   Try the whiskey butter on a stack of weekend pancakes, or as a way to spice up your daily oatmeal.  I can't wait to fill the cores of tart apples with it and bake them til tender.   The herbed butter will dress up boiled spuds or polenta cakes to the next level.   Or just slather them on a good old slice of toast and enjoy.

 

Beurre Herbes de Provence and Vanilla Nutmeg Whiskey Butter (inspired by Mr. Baldwin's Vanilla Bourbon Whipped Cream)

Goods

  • 1 pint of heavy whipping cream (must be heavy cream, 36-40% milkfat)
  • Add-ins of your choice:
    • Beurre Herbes de Provence
      • 2-3 tablespoons of herbes de provence
      • .25-.5 tablespoon of coarse sea salt (the salt intensifies as it melds into the butter)
    • Vanilla Nutmeg Whiskey Butter
      • 1 ounce rye whiskey or bourbon (I like Old Overholt)
        • 2-3 generous tablespoons of ground nutmeg
        • 2 generous tablespoons of vanilla sugar

Tools

  • Blender or food processor (you can actually use a covered mason jar)
  • A mixer is handy
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Wax paper if you plan to make butter logs
  • Containers for mixing and storage

Pour heavy cream into your blender/food processor or jar.  Process for approximately ten minutes.  You will need to take breaks every two minutes or so to check for consistency and to not burn your motor out!  If you are using a jar, you will need to shake vigorously for at least ten minutes.  Initially, the cream will thicken and start to whip.  Keep going - it has to mix until it separates into butter and buttermilk.  It's done when the butter forms a chunky ball and there's milky liquid left behind.

Pour the butter and it's milk into a fine mesh strainer.  Set the buttermilk aside for another use (buttermilk biscuits)!  Next, wash the remaining butter by running cold water over it and lightly pushing it against the strainer.  It's optimal to rinse all the buttermilk away, otherwise the butter will quickly go rancid.  Rinse until the water running over the butter runs clear.

Depending on the nature of what the cows that provided your cream have eaten, your butter will be somewhere between an opaque, pale off white and a light yellow.  The consistency will be oily but very soft.  After washing the butter, it's time to mix in the goodies. (!!!)

I was visiting a friend about a month ago and her husband, (the aforementioned Mr. Baldwin) made us a couple of mugs of hot chocolate with this luscious vanilla bourbon whipped cream on top.  That was the inspiration for the Vanilla Nutmeg Whiskey Butter.  I found it easiest to use a hand mixer to whip the whiskey into the butter— you only need a little bit for the flavor.  I used rye, but bourbon's sweetness would be a perfect foil.   If you're opposed to whiskey, a bit of rum extract will give you a good result. Go heavy handed on the nutmeg and if you don't have vanilla sugar on hand, you can always make some.

The Beurre Herbes de Provence is far more straightforward.  Fold in the herbs and salt gently.  The salt will meld into the butter when it chills, so go easy on it.  Spoon both butters into wax paper or small containers and shape and stick in the fridge to chill.  

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