Ah, butter — at once the most pedestrian, unremarkable of foodstuffs yet also a delectable addition that makes everything better. Butter is in a unique category with foods like the onion, orange, and salt: we take them for granted, but can you imagine eating in a world without them? Butter is stable for up to three months in the fridge, it can last for nine months when stored frozen, and — it’s even safe for a couple of days stored at room temperature, provided you do so in a proper vessel that blocks light and limits air exposure. (A butter dish and more butter-focused kitchen gadgets, e.g.)
Indeed, keeping a portion of your butter stored at room temperature allows for quick and easy slathering onto bread, waffles, or pancakes and can make cooking with the rich, fatty stuff all the more efficient. From a standard fridge kept around 40º F, a standard stick of butter will take about an hour to soften through. Chopping it smaller will of course speed that up.
If you forgot to keep a bit of butter out of the fridge an hour ago (or yesterday) and now it’s time for slathering, cooking, or making butter into fancy shapes for the perfect holiday table tableau, fear not: it’s easy to quickly soften butter without melting it into liquid form. (Though there’s a time and a place for liquid butter, of course!)
- A standard bowl (such as for cereal or soup)
- 12 ounces of water
- A second bowl (much like the first)
- A microwave
- Butter (placed in bowl #2)
- Put the water in bowl #1 and microwave it on high for 90 seconds
- Swap out the water bowl with the butter bowl and seal the steamy microwave ASAP
- Wait 8 to 10 minutes, and retrieve that perfectly soft butter from the microwave
Ah, but what to do with said perfectly soft butter? Why not try this perfectly simple recipe and whip up something sweet?
- 1 cup of softened butter
- 3/4 cups of white sugar
- 2 and 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- Preheat oven to 375º F
- Mix butter and sugar, then stir in egg and vanilla extract
- In separate bowl, mix all remaining powder ingredients, then stir into the wet ingredients and blend
- Use a cookie press if you have one, or use a spoon to drop ping-pong-ball sized balls of batter onto a cookie sheet and press them down to about a 1/4 inch in height (you can use the bottom of a glass)
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, stopping once they turn golden
And if you want to turn things up to awesome, also mix in some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to the dry ingredients. Because spice.
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