There’s nothing better than the smell of freshly baked cookies wafting through your home on a chilly winter day. Making Christmas cookies is a common holiday tradition for family and friends, from classic chocolate chip to decorated sugar cookies, and many more.
As you’re gathering your recipes for holiday baking this year, you may find that many require softened butter. However, many of us forget to set it out beforehand to make sure it’s soft by baking time. Here are a few methods home chefs can use to quickly soften butter for cookies and other baked goods.
Softened butter should be at room temperature. When you press it, your finger will make an indent, but it won’t sink into the butter or slide around. Here are the top six ways to soften butter for your recipe:
- Leave it on the countertop. A full stick of butter will become room temperature in about one hour on the countertop.
- Cut it into cubes. Cutting butter into small cubes allows it to soften in about 15 minutes. The smaller the pieces, the faster it will get to room temperature.
- Pound with a rolling pin. Place the wrapped butter stick in a resealable plastic bag, or between two sheets of wax or parchment paper. Pound and roll with a rolling pin to flatten and soften.
- Grate it. Partially unwrap the butter and use the large holes on a box grater to create a pile of freshly grated butter shavings. These will soften within a few minutes.
- Use indirect heat. Pour two cups of water into a microwave safe cup or bowl. Heat the water for about two minutes or until very hot. Meanwhile, put the butter in a heatproof bowl or on a plate.Remove the water from the microwave and place the bowl or plate of butter inside, then quickly close the microwave. The indirect heat will soften the butter in about 10 minutes.
- Use hot water. Pour hot water into a bowl, and after a few minutes, dump the water out and quickly cover your butter with the bowl. The heat from the bowl will soften your butter in just a few minutes.
Finally, if you’re in a pinch, you can use the microwave, though this isn’t recommended for baking, and you’ll have to keep a close eye on it, because within just a few seconds it can melt too fast. Using melted butter will change the texture of what you’re baking, so be careful to not leave it in too long. In fact, you may want to microwave it in 5-second increments until it’s close to room temperature.
HOW TO SAVE BUTTER THAT’S TOO SOFTENED
If you leave your butter out too long or soften it too much, the best thing you can do to save it is:
- Fill a bowl with ice.
- Place the butter in a smaller bowl.
- Nestle the bowl of butter in the bowl of ice.
- Remove from the butter when it’s closer to room temperature.