(Bloomberg) -- The latest TikTok food obsession, the butter board, continues to intrigue dairy fans.
The buzz around the new party staple snack — softened butter that’s mixed with and/or topped by flavorings from salt and citrus to honey and bacon, then lavishly spread on a serving board and served with bread — was sparked Sept. 12 when cook Justine Doiron posted to her audience of 2 million on TikTok. Within a week, #butterboard had scored more than 30 million views; it now has over 115 million.
The board was created as a simple, and less pricey, alternative to cheese and charcuterie boards, and features a potentially limitless assortment of add-ins, displayed in the most dramatic way for social media consumption.
In 2021, the attention lavished on feta cheese pasta — last year’s most searched dish on Google — increased global feta sales worldwide. At the southeastern supermarket chain Fresh Market, sales rose 45%.
It’s unclear whether the attention will be enough to move the needle on something as ubiquitous as butter. But butter boards are already more expensive to make than they would have been a year ago. The price of butter in the US is at an all-time high: 1 pound costs $4.70 on average after higher production costs and the summer’s extreme heat weighed on domestic milk supplies.
Some restaurants already have versions on the menu. One of America’s best pizza restaurants Razza, in Jersey City, New Jersey, offers a butter tasting that includes one made with sweet Hudson Valley cream, and a contrasting “bleu butter” injected with penicillium roquefort (the mold that causes blue veins to appear in cheese).
Chef-owner Dan Richer, who has been making butter boards since 2012, says the one Razza offers “is very simple and straightforward, there are no condiments like honey or figs or herbs as seen in the newly popular TikTok videos.” He does, however, make one topping exception: caviar. “Because, why not?” he said.
So who better to turn to for inspiration for butter than chefs? Doiron credits chef Oregon-based chef Joshua McFadden with inspiring her butter board.
Bloomberg Pursuits caught up with a few other top chefs to get their takes. From pesto to cornflakes, here are their best tips.
Eight Ways to Make a Butter Board
From Don Angie, Manhattan
“We think it might be fun to do an Italian-inspired version of a butter board using whipped lardo instead of butter,” says co-owner and chef Angie Rito. She recommends pesto modenese from Emilia-Romagna, made with the whipped cured pork fat, seasoned with garlic and rosemary. “It would be a delicious, next-level substitute for the butter, and could be served topped with grated parmigiano and flaky sea salt, along with everything from marinated vegetables and herbs, to things like anchovies, olives, or nuts,” she said.
Bacon, of Course
From Kudu Collective, London
At Kudu, the South African brioche-style bread mosbolletjies is served with melted smoked bacon butter or melted seafood butter. “Those two butters would look amazing slathered on a board and garnished with chopped bacon on one side, and fried brown shrimps on the other,” says chef-owner Patrick Williams. As an alternative, he suggests a simple butter board sprinkled with the tangy spice sumac to serve with raisin bread.
From Retan, London
Josh Dalloway, chef and co-founder of the supper club Retan, likes the idea of a butter-board style of presenting the fat at different stages, from just made to cultured to aged cultured, so it’s fully fermented. He also considers wrapping the aged butter in fig leaves to infuse it with flavor. But he has a faster, more unconventional ideas as well: “Cornflakes on a salted butter is a great combo,” Dalloway says. Here’s why: “The cornflakes add texture, whilst also feeding into the trickery of salty/sweet, similar to mixing salty and sweet popcorn at the cinema.”
Make It Seasonal
From Hotel Lilien, Tannersville, New York
The new Catskills boutique hotel has jumped on the trend, offering a butter board as a limited-time, $11 special. Chef Jeff Grover says the most important thing is to start with unsalted butter, “so that you can control the salt with toppings and flaky Maldon.” He makes his butter board seasonal: His autumnal hot honey version features dried figs and pumpkin seeds.
Mix It Up
From the NoMad, London
At the restaurants at the Covent Garden hotel, chef Ashley Abodeely uses a variety of butters, from regular to cultured cow to goat. For a butter board she recommends whipping them with another fat “to lighten the texture and ensure they are spreadable. “The cultured butter we ship with yogurt, for acidity, the goats butter with creme fraiche for body and the regular butter with mascarpone, for volume,” she says. She adds pesto for flavor and bright green color and suggests garnishing with radishes or house pickles, or even just a drizzle of olive oil.
Think Like a Chef
From The Water House Project, London
Chef Gabriel Waterhouse things big picture flavor groups when he seasons butter at his restaurant. Currently, he’s offering both cep, or porcini, and coffee and juniper options. For home butter boards for entertaining, “I’d organize from earthy (like mushrooms, coffee, marmite, whiskey, etc) to grassy (watercress, parsley), to floral and aromatic (basil, tarragon) to sweet-spicy (preserved lemon, elderberry, port and honey).”
DIY, with Marmite
From Pied a Terre, London
Executive chef Asimakis Chaniotis believes that the best board starts with homemade butter. His recipe: whip high quality double, or heavy, cream with an electric whisk or mixer, until the butter fat and butter milk split, then squeeze the butter fat in cheese cloth to remove the moisture. You can simply flavor the fresh butter with Maldon salt, it’s that good. Or, try a few flavors. “I love a mix—marmite, tarragon purée and smoked paprika. These different colored butters would look great on a board.”
Consider the Board
From Valerie, Manhattan
Toppings might be all important, but chef Dan Fleming also thinks about the optimal board for service. “I like to use wooden platters that have a light lamination. This allows for a smooth smear for the vessel of your choosing,” he says. He also wants people to consider the accompaniments. He recommends an assortment of bread, from cranberry walnut to sourdough and lavash crackers. And he says, serve at least one cheese on the side. Because sometimes a butter board just isn’t enough.
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