I came here today to to tell all of you about the salted caramel ice cream we make at Molly Moon’s. I had plans to describe exactly why it is such a dynamic flavor. With a small reminder that on our tongue are the 5 cornerstones of taste, salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami, I was going to tell you that salted caramel is the only flavor that touches all five of those points, a rarity for any dessert, particularly a single scoop of ice cream.
I sat down to surf the web, in hopes of finding a factoids, particularly some backing on the statement, “the butter added to the caramelized sugar provides umami.”
I got lost along the way, however. Or more accurately, found a road I had meant to travel down later this week; the path from cream to butter.
I was hired to teach two in home cooking classes, my only guideline being to center the menu around the farmers market. Because the farmers markets have recently begun to include raw milk and cream from Sea Breeze farms, I knew immediately that we would make our own butter to top a loaf of Tall Grass Bakery’s superb bread, and use the buttermilk to flavor the soup the bread would be served with.
An article in the New York Times food section last year, written Daniel Patterson followed his path from cream to butter for the tables in his restaurant Coi, and provided a recipe. Most of all, it reminded me that butter was in fact very simple to make. I had made butter as a youngster many times with nothing more than a mason jar and a little cream.
But knowing that I can do something just because it works is never really enough for me, particularly when I am teaching the process to eager students.
With a simple google search of the phrase, “does butter have umami” I came across this site detailing the entire process of butter making, with everything my curious little head could want to know. It would be an injustice to paraphrase the massive amount of information this website holds, so go ahead and read it yourself. It’s worth every moment.
What got me thinking was the section about culturing the cream before making butter, a tradition still practiced heavily in Europe. I recently learned that as cheese is all essentially the curd of milk separated from the whey with rennet, it is the culture added to the dairy that makes for the vast and varying flavors. So the thought that culturing cream makes for varying flavors in butter also piqued my interest, and started me thinking about flavored butters.
I have certianly made flavored butters, or as we call them in the industry, compound butters. These compound butters amount to nothing more than butter mixed with something like an herb, spice, or cheese.
But i wonder what would happen if rather than mixing in a whole spice or herb after the fact, we infused the cream itself then used the flavored cream to make butter. Aroma molecules are incredibly fat soluble, so it stands to reason that the fat in cream which is to become the butter itself would absorb said flavor and make a nice flavored butter.
Would it work, would it taste nice? How would we use it? Banana’s caramelized in coffee butter? Lavender butter smeared on toasted brioche? Yellow cake made with rosemary butter? Scallops basted in cumin butter?
How will the flavor carry through to the final the application?