Thursday, December 26, 2013

Freshly Churned Butter

Homemade butter is so easy to make and far superior to that purchased in the store, so it is a little crazy to think that people don't make it more often.  For me, it is one of those things that I rarely think of making on my own unless I have extra cream on hand and don't know what to do with it.  But once I do make it, I immediately think to myself that I should definitely do it more often.  It is rich and creamy and can be seasoned with herbs or salt as desired.  Spread on toast, there is not much better than freshly made butter.  

Today I made butter in my stand mixer using the paddle attachment.  I whipped one quart of leftover heavy cream on medium speed until soft peaks formed.  Then I wrapped the top of my stand mixer tightly with plastic wrap to prevent splashes during the rest of the processing time.  As I am sure you realize, making butter at home results in two products, the butter and the buttermilk.  Once the butter has started to separate from the buttermilk, splashing will inevitably follow if you are using an open device such as a mixer.  You can, of course, churn butter in any number of ways from shaking a large closed jar containing the cream to whizzing it around in a food processor until the butter forms.  Either way works.

Once the butter has separated, strain the mixture through a sieve set over a bowl to separate butter from buttermilk.  Press on/knead the butter by hand for several minutes to remove any remaining liquid.  The buttermilk can then be used for other projects or baking while the butter can be molded or placed in a bowl and covered and stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.  Bring the butter to room temperature to make it more spreadable.  If you plan to use the butter in baking, you may choose not to salt it, but if you are planning to eat it on toast, I suggest you add a little salt to it while you are kneading it at the end.  

Freshly Churned Butter- makes approximately 3/4 pound 

This will result in about 2 cups of leftover buttermilk which can be used for baking, making salad dressing, or frozen for later use.  

1 quart heavy cream
1/4 tsp sea salt

plastic wrap will be needed if using a stand mixer

Pour the heavy cream into the 5 quart bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Cover the top of the mixer bowl tightly with plastic wrap to prevent splashing being careful that the wrap does not interfere for the function of the paddle. You could also use a food processor for this in which case the plastic wrap will not be necessary.  

Begin churning the cream on medium low, increasing to medium, until the cream forms soft peaks.  This may take up to 10 minutes depending on the speed of your mixer.  Continue to churn on medium speed until the butter separates from the buttermilk (this is where the splashing happens so have everything covered well with wrap at this point).  Once the butter has formed, remove the bowl from the mixer.  

Strain the mixture through a sieve set over a bowl to catch the buttermilk.  Press on and knead the butter by hand to remove as much liquid as possible and until the butter forms a nice smooth mass.  Add salt or seasoning if desired and knead the butter a little more to incorporate it thoroughly.  At this point the butter can be molded or spread into a bowl and covered.  Chilled, it will keep at least a week, and it can also be frozen for later use.  

Printable Version


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chocolate-Dipped Potato Chip Cookies

I love the combination of salty and sweet.  A hint of salt can take a good dessert to the level of greatness.  This year for Christmas I tried a Cook's Country recipe for Chocolate-Dipped Potato Chip Cookies, and in my opinion, they are delicious.  They have a similar texture to a shortbread cookie and remind me a bit of Pecan Sandies, but they have great crunch and texture from crushed potato chips.  They are dipped halfway in chocolate which hardens and creates the perfect counterpoint to the saltiness of the chips, and to make things even better, the chocolate is sprinkled with a bit of sea salt before it cools completely.  

These cookies are so easy to make, quick considering that you have to dip them also, and they are sweet, salty, and full of flavor.  I will definitely be making them again.  

Since I have not changed this recipe at all, I do not feel comfortable posting it here.  However, if you do not already have access to recipes on Cook's Country, you can sign up for a free trial to get it. It is well worth the effort.