Does the butter board hold a candle to the cheese board?
Butter lovers, unite! There’s a new trend circulating on the internet for the next snacking delight: butter boards. And yes, they’re exactly what they sound like.
Food influencers across the internet are posting videos of smearing softened butter on fancy boards and topping it with all sorts of things: edible flowers, flaky salts, fresh herbs and much more. As someone who’s a lover of butter and cheese boards, I had to try this out. Would a butter board hold a candle to my first love of cheese boards?
I think the great thing about butter boards is that you really can use anything for toppings, so take a quick look in your pantry to see what you have before making a trip to the store. The butter is just the base, and you can add any flavors that speak to you.
For dippers, most people reach for crusty bread. I wouldn’t go full crostini, but I put my French bread in my toaster for a little bit to add a little warmth and crust without making it too hard. Crackers and variations on them all work as well.
With Thanksgiving coming up, the butter board might be the way to go when taking something to a holiday gathering. I took inspiration from a butter board focused on Thanksgiving flavors and added a few things to it.
Assembling the butter board is easy, but there are four things to keep in mind before starting.
First, although many people have been using wooden boards, I would steer away from wood and reach instead for ceramic or marble. After reading a few articles about the trend, I came upon one from Forbes that talked more about the “dangers” of the board than its popularity. One thing I do agree with from the article is that the butter can get into the porous wood or any cracks it may have, making a perfect spot for breeding bacteria.
Second, don’t microwave your butter. In order to spread it over the board, it needs to be softened, but don’t use a microwave, which melts the interior before the outside. Instead, you could leave it out for a while before assembling the board, or use a little trick that requires only a bowl and hot water. Pour boiling water into a large bowl, and let it sit to warm up the bowl. Then dump out the water and place the bowl upside down over the butter, creating a steamy, warm dome that will soften the butter without melting it.
Third, you might want to have spreading knives available. Many people who are participating in the trend dip their crusty bread directly into the butter. If you’re eating this with a partner or by yourself (which I don’t recommend), this might be fine, but some guests may not be as excited about a communal butter situation. Supplying each guest with an individual plate and allowing people to take their own portion using knives will be more sanitary.
Fourth, keep an eye on your salt. Butter boarders are split between using salted or unsalted butter as the base, but I think it depends on your toppings. If you don’t plan on adding things that are salty, then I suggest salted butter. My toppings included a salty meat, salt flakes and seeds that had been roasted and salted, so adding those on top of salted butter would have been going a little overboard.
With these key things in mind, it’s time to start assembling your board! I used unsalted Kerrygold (pure Irish) butter, chopped chives, basil chiffonade, chopped bacon, roasted and salted pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts, thinly sliced shallots, dried cranberries, flaky salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.
The amount of butter you use depends on how many people you’re planning to feed, but I’ve found that most recipes call for four to eight ounces (total) to spread on the board. When it comes to the amount of the toppings, it really is all about your taste. I added all of these ingredients by eyeballing the ratios.
After sampling the board, I have to say that although it doesn’t replace a cheese board in any regard – in my heart, at least – it does make a flavorful snack. Making one is also a relatively easy process that results in something pretty and tasty that you can take to a Thanksgiving gathering to impress your family and friends.