First of all, let’s take care of the elephant in the room. You “shouldn’t” soften butter in the microwave. It’s true. However, if you’re a spontaneous baker like me, you almost never leave butter out on the counter to soften. It’s just the way it is for me. So, if you get a hankerin’ for chocolate chip cookies, you need softened butter, and you need it fast. Chocolate chip cookies wait for no man. So, how is it done? First let’s talk about how it’s not done.
Do Not Soften Butter Directly From The Freezer
Prepare for a cautionary tale. I have broken four, count them, FOUR sets of mixer attachments by trying to bake with “softened” butter from the freezer that I had microwaved. IT IS NOT WORTH IT. I broke two last week making the same batch of cookies. That’s right. Read that again. I’m mostly writing this section for myself.
So why did my mixer attachments break? When you try to soften frozen butter in the microwave, it never heats evenly. This is true of fridge cold butter too, but the base temperature is more forgiving. What you end up with when you try to soften frozen butter in the microwave is butter that is melting on the outside, but still frozen at the core. When your mixer attachments hit that frozen core, they snap. Trust me. Don’t do it. If you need to bake and only have butter in the freezer, you’re going to have to wait a while. That’s why I always try to keep a couple boxes of butter in the fridge. I saw that I Am Baker has a whole wine fridge full of butter in her kitchen. A butter fridge. #goals
Ok, So How Do I Soften Butter in the Microwave
You need cookies, and you need them now. You head to the fridge, and thank goodness you have butter in there, but it’s too cold to cream in your mixer. Here’s what you do. Put the sticks of butter (still in their wrappers, as long as there’s no metal in the wrapper) on a plate. This works best if you do one or two sticks at a time.
Next, microwave the butter for ten seconds. Turn them one quarter turn in the same direction. Microwave for another 10 seconds, and repeat until the butter is still cool to the touch, but noticeably softened. If you see melted spots, you’ve gone too far. If there’s just a tiny but of melted butter, it’s probably fine, but if the melty spots are big, put the stick of butter back in the fridge for a few minutes to get to the appropriate temperature.
The softness you’re going for is soft enough that you can make an indent with your finger, but not so soft that your finger just sails through the butter and hits the plate on the other side. It should be cool, but not cold, to the touch in the middle. When this is achieved, you’re ready to bake! Bring on the cookies!
That, friends, is how you soften butter in the microwave. This will probably take a little trial and error because different microwaves operate at slightly different power levels. If your microwave cooks really hot and fast, you might try reducing the power.
Now, go forth and bake cookies! (but really seriously don’t use butter from the freezer)
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