Homemade Cultured Maple Butter - Part 1

"Hang on Mom! I need to change into my jeans, put my tools in my pockets, put my hard hat on, and Halloween beads. Then I will be a real construction worker. And we can start mixing the butter!"

With an eye towards homemade holiday gifts, we began experimenting with flavored butters. Delicious kitchen experiments are the best.

We started with cultured maple butter. Our first attempt tasted good. It could definitely use some improvements, but before I get into the issues, I'll describe what we did.

We started with a quart of homemade crème fraîche, and turned it into butter by whipping it gently in the stand mixer. We gathered all the butter bits, drained the buttermilk, and then washed the butter in cold water. Wyatt wore his Canobie Lake Park hard hat and sparkly Halloween beads for the occasion. 

Then we added salt, cinnamon, maple syrup, and mixed it all up by kneading it.

As I mentioned, it tasted good. But the maple flavor was not very robust. Also, the maple syrup that we were able to get into the butter (you can see from the photo that there is a fair amount left in the bowl) never fully integrated with the butter. As a result, the syrup continuously collected in little droplets on the surface of the butter and in the butter container, like the butter was weeping syrup. Weeping butter is weird. To me, it seems to require excuses, or at least an explanation.

I emailed Cooking Issues, my favorite cooking podcast, to see if Dave Arnold had any thoughts on how to improve our maple butter.

The Tuesday after I emailed the show, I listened live to episode 227. There was no mention of my question. As a result, Wyatt, my defeatist attitude and I started a giant jar of preserved lemons so that we would have some homemade gifts ready by Christmas.

I didn't bother attempting to listen live to the next episode of Cooking Issues.  I just listened as usual, later in the week, while doing cooking-related things. This past Thursday evening, I had time to listen to Episode 228 while cleaning up dinner and making Wyatt's lunch. And at minute 47:30, I had to sit down because I was too stunned and excited to do anything else. Dave Arnold read my email on the show and he had suggestions of things to try to improve our maple butter! 

That little bit of encouragement-via-podcast was all I needed. Wyatt and I spent time this past weekend trying two improvements inspired by Dave Arnold's suggestions. The details of those delicious and weird messes will be included in another post, "Homemade Cultured Maple Butter - Part 2." And because I am so grateful to anyone who is reading about this maple butter experiment during this Thanksgiving week, I'm planning to break with my my recent tradition of one-post-per-week and publish that story tomorrow.