Just a bit more on the quality of butter because I have found it to have the most impact when it comes to baking or candy making. We’ve received many phone calls regarding tried and true recipes that all of a sudden do not work. It’s the butter. Many times we purchase butter on sale, even stocking up on the creamy goodness. Then we begin baking and much to our disappoint a faithful recipe does not turn out. Most people do not consider that the butter they purchased is to blame. The cheaper butters often have a lower saturated fat content and a higher water content. I think this is “downsizing in disguise.”
Watery butter might be fine to spread on your bread or baste a chicken breast, but for cooking it means that your toffee will not set, your cookies will spread flat and your pie crust will sadly abandon its flaky texture.
Generally, I look for butter that has 8 g of saturated fat per tablespoon. However, I have found some quality butter that has only 7 g and it works fine. This also has to do with moisture content and the amount of milk solids. When it comes to butter, you really get what you pay for and a good moderately priced butter is usually just fine for most cooking and baking. Save the cheap stuff for basting and spreading on bread – but not your homemade bread – splurge on the good stuff for that!
In the last few years I have discovered Browned Butter. This, I think, is God’s gift to the human taste buds! I use it whenever I can, adding depth, richness, savory deeper flavors to many dishes be they dessert, meat or side dish. If you are unsure how to brown butter, don’t worry I’ll be posting those directions soon.
PS: If you need some softened butter fast and forgot to take it out of the refrigerator in time; try this little trick here.