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Last night, our friends Kevin, Carol and their Astonishingly Nice Juniors came over for dinner. It was Kev’s birthday, and we were making pizzas to celebrate. The four of us go back a long way – over 25 years in fact. The wonderful thing is, we’ve been close for all those years – this hasn’t been a friendship that has waxed and waned – we’ve seen them regularly over the entire time we’ve known them, and being with them is like being with family. I can say what I think, feel what I feel, all without fear of judgment. We certainly don’t live out of each other’s pockets, but when we haven’t caught up for a couple of months, I find myself missing them. So last night was easy, relaxed and reaffirming – a perfect Saturday night.

As Carol was bringing fruit, I didn’t make a cake for dessert, and opted instead for a batch of Divine Dorie’s World Peace Cookies.

world-peace-cookies-2

Pete thinks they would be more aptly named “World Conflict Cookies”, because either everyone fights over them OR you have an internal struggle not to eat five at one sitting. The recipe is from a great cookbook called Baking from My Home to Yoursand was recently discussed on Dorie Greenspan’s blog (there’s a recipe link here). For our batch, I used homemade butter, homemade vanilla extract and Belgian chocolate. As this recipe is quite simple, it really showcases the ingredients, so it pays to use the best you can find.

Homemade butter

This is one of the maddest, most empowering things you can do in the kitchen. Making your own butter is so easy, and yet it always makes me feel like Ma Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie. We never planned to make butter – it’s really just a byproduct of our desire not to waste anything.

Instead of throwing away cream that’s near its expiry date, we now beat it, with just the tiniest bit of salt, in the stand mixer until it splits into butter and whey (start with the whisk and move to the paddle attachment if it gets too thick). Rinse the butter in cold water, then it needs to be beaten to get all the residual liquid out of it. We do this by placing a wooden chopping board over the sink at a slight incline (to allow the liquid to drain off) and smacking the butter on it with wooden gnocchi paddles (one will work, but two is much easier). Surprisingly, the ridged paddles don’t stick to the butter, and the whole process is really quite quick, although it can leave your kitchen an oily, cream-speckled mess.

It really is delicious and worth trying – after all, how often do you get to taste butter which is just minutes old?  But being able to use our own butter in cakes and cookies – that makes me blissfully happy.

butter-001

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More here : Butter Making #2
and here : Step by Step Butter Making Photos

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