Regardless of where you land on the 'Is Butter Healthy for Me?' scale, it frequently pops up as an ingredient in baking and holiday cooking. Whether it's a celebratory steak dinner or a special batch of gourmet cupcakes, flavour-infused butters can add a surprisingly sophisticated twist to traditional recipes. While some of us may not eat butter every day due to health reasons or personal preference, experimenting with a twist on a traditional component can prove to be a pleasant treat for our taste buds.
A decidedly popular option for flavouring butter is bacon. Using a simple method of adding in the cooled drippings of cooked bacon (don't forget those yummy brown bits from the pan!) to a few room temperature sticks of quality butter and whipping the two in a mixer to a lighter consistency is all you need to kick up some adventure in savoury applications. Once at your desired blend, spread into dishes lined with parchment or cling film. Palm-sized cake dishes are perfect for use at dinners, but any size or shape will work as long as the butter can be chilled to firm in the refrigerator. Because a different fat has been introduced to the butter ratio, your bacon-flavoured delight spreads much easier and softens quicker. Keep in mind to taste as you go so that you incorporate the right amount of bacon magic for your tasting enjoyment.
Bacon Butter is excellent on cuts of meat, potatoes, dinner rolls, and even as a wonderfully salty pairing to dessert. A good example is substituting part of the butter or shortening in a chocolate buttercream icing recipe for a mocha cupcake!
Remember there is a multitude of bacon out there with different levels of saltiness and types of flavour and smoke (Applewood vs Cherrywood, for example). Each kind can lend to your butter a different profile to enjoy as an added bonus to your recipes.
You're not limited to bacon though! Herbs and fruit zests can also be thrown in the mix(er) with your butter to spice things up. If you would like for these to have a similar spreadability and quicker softening at room temperature, mix in a bit of olive oil.
- Allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and similar spices blended into butter go great on sweet potatoes and pumpkin flavoured baked goods.
- Cranberry with orange zest is another favourite holiday blend, but can also be used year round for a refreshing spread on muffins and bagels without the heaviness of flavoured cream cheese.
- Dill weed and lemon zest is excellent for fish-based dishes.
- Cilantro and lime zest brightens up roasted or grilled poultry.
- Garlic, basil, and your favourite olive oil for Italian classics like garlic knots and bruschetta.
Really, this concept has so much flexibility that the only two restrictions are your imagination and your personal preference. Roasted red peppers and veggies, some of your favourite pureed fruit or pumpkin, dijon mustard, chives, cinnamon, maple, honey! It's so quick and easy. As long as you've got a stick of butter available, you can mix up even a small batch that is fluffy and flavourful for even a regular weekday meal.
Have you come across a few cute silicone moulds? What a great way to chill a batch of your gourmet flavoured butters. They can also make for an impressive party platter or gift plate to a friend's dinner party.