You know what I think? Cookies, schmookies. And by Christmastime, I’m willing to bet most people are pretty cookie-d out. Thankfully, butter is just the gift that keeps on giving, even though where it “gives” tends to be the waistline, but we’re still rocking the holiday fat pants here, so we can ignore that part.
Compound butters have got to be one of the simplest ways to brighten someone’s day. And they couldn’t be easier to use. If you, the giver, keep them frozen til wrapping and handoff, they’ll stay good and solid for just long enough to be transferred to another freezer or refrigerator.
Or, you could live somewhere like Northern Michigan where it has basically snowed every single day since Thanksgiving, and just wrap your butter in a pretty bow, leave it in the garage and it’ll stay nice and cold til Kingdom Come. (I’ve been at my parent’s place since Thanksgiving and sheesh! I forgot what it’s like to live in a constant snowstorm)
A good part about compound butters is that you can make them with either fresh ingredients or good quality dried, and they’ll take on the flavor no matter what. The butter in these photographs was made with a just-opened container of dried basil, minced whole garlic, and good-quality pre-grated Parmesan cheese. But you could go whole-hog and make it with Parmesan grated by your own hand, fresh basil from a windowsill (or your garden, should you live somewhere not in the Arctic) and it will taste just as nice.
You can also mess around with flavors, too, depending on what’s in your fridge. Orange zest and minced rosemary is delicious together. So is sea salt, a few dashes of truffle oil, and freshly cracked pepper. You could go sweet with chocolate shavings and ground hazelnuts, for a sort of Nutella-butter.
Because this is butter we’re talking about. It’s like a gift from above to make the world easier to eat.
What’s easier than compound butter? This delicious version, made with high-quality dried ingredients and tied with a pretty bow.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) room temperature butter
- 2 heaping tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 2 heaping teaspoons dried basil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch of salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and either whip together using a mixer, or mix by hand until everything is fully incorporated.
To wrap, place the butter in the center of a square of wax paper. Grasp the ends of the wax paper together at the top, and gently roll the butter back and forth until it forms a tube shape. Wrap the ends of the wax paper down around the butter and gently form it into a tighter tube, then tie off the ends with ribbon or pretty string.
Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to two months. Slice of and use as needed.
- Need some ideas? Compound butters makes great garlic bread bases. Or, drop a pat of melting butter atop a grilled steak. Sweeter versions can be spread on a toasted piece of baguette in the morning.