I was mindlessly scrolling through social media one day, and I happened to come across a new recipe that I am so excited to try. The latest trend in communal eating is butter boards! The pictures and videos floating around the internet right now are truly beautiful.
What is a butter board, you may ask? Well, it is the newest craze where you spread softened butter on a serving board or dish and top it with an assortment of ingredients ranging from seasonings and salt to edible flowers, nuts, fruit, honey or whatever else may strike your fancy. The intent behind these grazing boards is that they are served with bread or toast points that are used to scoop up the flavored butter. What else could you want in a snack or tablescape? For mine, I used our TCB No 3 flaky sea salt, fig balsamic vinegar, garlic grapeseed oil, dried oregano and fresh basil. The possibilities are endless when it comes to toppings!
You all may know by now that I absolutely love a decadent charcuterie or cheese board; I even hopped on the dessert board trend and the breakfast board bonanza, so I just had to jump at this new fad and had so much fun coming up with multiple different butter combinations to experiment with. To me, it is all about the presentation and imagination when it comes to making up these boards.
Why just serve a thoroughly mixed dip in a bowl when you can “deconstruct” it and make it into a board? You can take this board trend a step further and if butter isn’t your cup of tea, then you can spread ricotta, softened cream cheese, goat cheese, or even mascarpone. Any kind of spreadable consistency ingredient can get the board treatment! Peanut butter or other nut butters, Nutella, and even marshmallow fluff could act as a base for a dessert board variation. Who says you need to use bread as your vehicle to gather the spreads? If using other options besides butter as a base, then why not try graham crackers, lady fingers, pita, crackers, veggies, bagel bites or different flavors of bread besides the standard white toast. All of those would be fantastic options!
Softened cream cheese with vanilla, caramelized bananas, blueberries, chocolate chips and caramel sauce
Now this trend might not be for everyone! Even I take pause when I think about how easy it is to accidentally double dip when swiping your toast across the board, taking a bite, and still have toast that I want slathered in butter.
This concept of flavoring butter is not new by any means. Mixing butter with different herbs, spices, and flavorings is known as a compound butter and they have been around for ages, originating in France. The original compound butter, Beurre Maître d'Hôtel (or the Maitre d's butter) is comprised of parsley and lemon juice whipped into the butter. Traditionally this butter was made tableside (talk about fancy presentation) and pats were placed onto a freshly seared tenderloin steak to melt into the meat as it rested. Nowadays you can mix your butter with a wide variety of ingredients to enhance the flavor of not only the butter but whatever you are putting it on. I love making big batches of compound butters and keep a wide variety of flavors in my freezer at all times. Compound butters are not just for slathering on bread, though!
I use them as a sauce component on different proteins like the classic steak, but also fish, chicken and pork. You can toss cooked pasta in a flavored butter, use it in mashed potatoes, coat steamed veggies, popcorn, grilled corn, roasted potatoes, and much much more. Compound butters freeze really well when wrapped up properly. I like to take parchment or plastic and wrap the butter into a tight log shape to store in the freezer. Then when I am ready to use some, I just cut off “coins” from the frozen log to use as needed and re-freeze the rest.
No matter what your butter preference may be: board vs compound; it all starts with quality butter and ingredients. You want to add enough toppings to your board or into your compound butter to cut through all that rich fat that tends to coat your tongue in order to maximize the balance of flavor. Think about all of the tastes: salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami when contemplating your butter creations.
We make a variety of compound butters in The Chopping Block's classes so check out our calendar today and find a class that is right for you! Our Steakhouse DIY and Italian Surf and Turf classes both have delicious compound butters on the menu.
As for this trend, I admit I am not a fan. I love butter as much as the next person, but this was too much for me, even though I love how beautiful they are. I think I will stick with serving bowls and utensils in the future. If you happen to make one of these beautiful boards, I’d love to see your creations on our TCB private Facebook group page and hear your opinions on this new trend.