Saturday, 30 January 2010
Using up the Brandy Butter
I always make the brandy butter for our family Christmas. It's rare, however, that it actually is brandy- it's usually whisky butter, or, the last couple of years, rum butter. The latter two spirits tend to be more what I have around than brandy, although I have used it back when I still lived with my parents.
I use a 250g pack of unsalted butter, to which I add soft brown sugar, or Cassonade. Always brown sugar, anyway. I also add the zest of a lemon, and its juice.
I leave the sugar out to soften, then stir in the zest. I then add enough sugar (tasting!) for the mix to be half-way through gritty and almost sandy. It needs to crunch! I then add about 2 tablespoons of my chosen spirit, stir it in, taste, and usually add more sugar.
One year I whipped the butter so that it stayed soft, even after being in the refrigerator. My family was so unimpressed, I've never even considered it since!
The whole then gets put in a dish, plastic wrap pressed down over the surface, and it gets to sit in the cold for the flavours to meld for at least 24 hours before being placed on the Christmas table. We each carve off bit to put on our hot Christmas pudding, allowing it to melt onto the slices.
Yum. As far as I'm concerned, the high point of my Christmas meal.
Nevertheless, and despite repeated helpings as the chunks of butter melt in and don't provide that contrast of cold and crunchy over hot and soft, there's always a lot of brandy butter left over, which I then take home, thinking that I'll probably be sticking a knife in there and (look away now!) sucking the knife blade clean several times over the next few days.... until it's all gone.
Which, fortunately for my waistline, I don't tend to do. I'll stick the knife in a couple of times, but then I tend to forget about it, and the dish slowly gets shoved to the back of the fridge, hidden by the post-Christmas salads.
Late January or mid-February, I find it again, and think that I better do something about it. Fortunately, brandy butter makes great cookies- not least because the sugar is already mixed in to the butter! So all I have to do is take it out of the fridge, and either leave it to soften on the countertop, or stick it in the microwave for enough seconds to soften it up.
I then finally cream the butter and the sugar, add a couple of eggs, some flour, some ground almonds (not ground too finely), a couple of handfuls of oatflakes, and stir it all together until it makes a not-too-firm and nicely sticky cookie dough. I then add a couple of handfuls of raisins, stir them in.
Preheating the oven to 180C (my default temperature!), I put tablespoonfuls very widely apart on a baking tray, knowing that they will spread hugely, and bake for about 18 minutes.
It's a tasty way of using something up, and the addition of the oatflakes means that it's healthy. Really it is.