It is often stated that the three secrets of French cuisine are: butter, butter and butter.
As a chef who trained in the classical French style of cookery, I can confirm this statement as ‘mostly true’.
Before I go any further, I will provide a disclaimer – I don’t encourage the excessive consumption of butter.
And, I won’t get into the dietary debate over replacing butter with margarine. Personally, I hate margarine, and I absolutely love butter (but that’s just me).
However, the growth in margarine consumption has led to a generation of people who may not know the beauty of butter or even understand how it is produced.
Butter could be briefly defined as a dairy product made by churning (cow’s milk) cream, to separate the butterfat from the buttermilk.
The watery buttermilk is a by-product that has further culinary use, while the yellow coloured butterfat (often with added salt) is compressed into blocks of butter.
In fact, you can make it yourself by over-whipping fresh cream. Margarine on the other-hand is not made of dairy, is often made of many ingredients and coloured with yellow food colouring to make it look like butter.
Butter is solidified when refrigerated, becomes smooth and spreadable at room temperature, and melts to a thin liquid when heated.
Butter can be used as a spread (such as garlic butter), used as a frying medium (for crumbed foods, or used as a sauce (such as lemon butter on grilled fish).
Butter is also used to enrich bakery products.
Even in a health conscious era, butter has a proud and celebrated history in many cultures, and I think it’s a beautiful and natural ingredient.
Salted Butterscotch Sauce
One of my favorite winter warmer recipes is this rich, decadent butter enriched sauce.
It’s incredibly easy to make and can be served with almost any dessert, such as sticky date pudding, deep fried ice-cream or bread and butter pudding.
- 200ml cream
- 180g brown sugar
- 70g butter, unsalted
- 15ml, vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- Combine the cream, sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat until it starts to boil.
- Remove from the heat and whisk until completely emulsified.
- At this stage you could add a dash of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt for depth of flavour.
Note: For an interesting twist, stir in a couple of spoons of peanut butter – yum!