Monday, May 12, 2008

Stealth Butter

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that is yet another shot of yet another lemon curd recipe and when the hell is that woman gonna quit making lemon curd? Hah! You will be relieved to know that is not lemon curd. Not even close.

What it is, Coffee Mates, is something called Extended Butter. Frankly, I'd never heard of it before, although I understand it was an idea in use during World War II when everything was rationed. I do remember, when I was five or six years old, something about sugar and gas rationing but we lived on a dairy farm. Butter was not something we did without.

I'm signed up for the daily email newsletter from Tip Nut, which almost always has some neat bit of information. Today was the butter thing -- "How To Turn One Stick Of Butter Into Two" -- and I said, "Huh? Really?"

This interests me because I don't do margarine anymore, preferring butter for all kinds of reasons. So it certainly wouldn't hurt my feelings to save a few cents on it, right? There just happened to be roughly two-thirds of a stick of room temp butter in the butter dish so I decided to test it out.

Now, the formula given is 1/2 cup of lukewarm water per stick of butter (which, by a lucky coinkydink, is also 1/2 cup). You're supposed to gradually cream in the water, making sure it's all incorporated as you go along. (You may use a mixer at low speed.) I'm afraid I forgot that "gradually" part and just dumped all the water in at once and hit it with my immersion blender. Which worked out fine except there seemed to be just a teensy bit too much water. I don't know if that's because I didn't add it slowly or if it's because I guesstimated too far in the plus category with the amount of water I should add. I put in 1/3 cup instead of the 1/4 cup that was probably more accurate.

Not a problem. I just held the mass of whipped butter with a spatula while I tipped the bowl and drained out the excess. The butter firmed right up in the refrigerator and I gotta say, it really doesn't taste any different now than it did before. Hmmm.

Hmmm, indeed. This raises all kinds of interesting possibilities. It isn't just a matter of saving a little bit of money. If all you're adding is water, you're simply making "light" butter, so if you slather your usual amount on your baked potato, you're only getting half the calories. Right? Therefore, by default, this extended butter is healthier than the regular butter. Think of that butter pat as a mere shadow of its former self. A sort of stealth butter if you will.

Only thing is, they don't recommend you use it in baking because the amount called for would consist of half the required fat so it may affect the texture of your baked goods in an unfortunate way. Well, we'll see. There must be some goodies that would be okay with stealth butter. I'll have to check into that. In the meantime, I have this intense craving for baked potato. Slathered with some of my freshly churned stealth butter, of course.


Becky said...

That's a great idea! Thanks for it, and for the link to Tip Nut; I've just gone there, archive-surfed, and subscribed.

John Bailey said...

I gave up margerine some years back, Dee, for some of the same reasons, I suspect. Long and short of it is I find it difficult to digest non-natural fats.

We used that tip for butter-extension here during the rationing years, and I still do when I have sandwiches to make and a scarcity of butter. I'm still fond of extending butter with a little olive oil but I know that'd not be to everyone's taste.

Bonnie said...

Wow and here Wil has been buying lo fat butter.

Bex said...

Great tip, thanks. My only concern is - does the water content in the extended butter melt into a puddle if you leave your butter out on the counter, like I do? I hate cold hard butter. Or does it make the cold butter more spreadable? I guess I'll just have to try it and see for myself.

Dee said...

Becky, glad you enjoyed TipNut. I think it's a great site.

John, I often mix olive oil and butter half-and-half when I'm sauteeing something. Keeps the butter from burning and is a healthy combo.

Bonnie, now you can tell Wil how to save some pennies and still go low fat!

Bex, I just did up another cube, this time blending in the water gradually, as I was supposed to. No water puddles! (smile) In the fridge, it gets just as hard as the regular butter but I just leave it out in the butter dish (which, for me, is a lidded bowl).