Butter is one of the most quintessential ingredients in cooking. Transform plain butter into artisanal creations. Flavored Butters (The Harvard Common Press, 2013) by Lucy Vaserfirer will help make your cooking come alive with sweet and savory recipes, vibrant plating techniques and suggestions for pairing the perfect butter with its complementary fare. In this article, learn about compound butter, learn how to shape and present it, and try three divine compound butter recipes. This excerpt is taken from the section “Butter Basics.”
Compound Butter Recipes
The most common form of flavored butter, usually referred to as compound butter in professional kitchens, is simply softened whole butter with flavorings mixed in. The ingredients can be just blended together or whipped until light and fluffy. The magic of a compound butter lies in the fact that it is made from whole butter and therefore has that luxurious, velvety mouth feel and rich flavor. As it slowly melts, it functions just like a fancy sauce and yet is unbelievably easy to make!
Forming a Log of Butter
1. Place the butter in the center of a sheet of parchment paper.
2. Bring the top of the parchment over the butter and, holding the bottom of the parchment firmly against the work surface, press into a log using a straight edge.
3. Roll the log up in the parchment and twist the ends of the parchment in opposite directions, as if it’s a piece of candy. Refrigerate until firm.
Shaping Compound Butters
You have several options:
• Transfer the flavored butter to a sheet of parchment paper, roll tightly into a 1 1/2-inch-thick log (a straight edge is helpful for forming an even log), and twist both ends of the parchment paper to seal. Slip the log into a paper towel tube if company’s coming and you want it to be perfectly round, and refrigerate until firm. To serve, cut slices of flavored butter with a warm knife (simply run hot water over the blade and then wipe it dry).
• Serve the butter by the scoop or by the dollop directly from the mixing bowl.
• Pack the butter into small ramekins or individual butter crocks, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Bring the butter to room temperature before serving.
• Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the flavored butter and pipe rosettes onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Refrigerate until firm, then cover with plastic wrap. When they’re firm, the rosettes will pop right off the parchment. You can also pipe rosettes directly onto a finished dish.
• Butter molds or silicone ice cube trays, which come in a variety of shapes, are another fun option.
• If you really want to get creative, spread the compound butter in a 1-2-inch-thick layer on a parchment-lined baking tray, refrigerate until firm, and cut out shapes using small cookie cutters.
• Finally, a log of cold compound butter that has been out of the refrigerator for about 15 minutes can be shaped using a warm butter curler or melon baller. Keep butter curls or balls chilled in ice water until it’s time to serve them.
Note: Chunky compound butters are not suitable for piping, molding, cookie-cutter shapes, or curling.
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Flavored Butters: How to Make Them, Shape Them and Use Them as Spreads, Toppings and Sauces by Lucy Vaserfirer and published by The Harvard Common Press, 2013.