Our Butter Taste Test…An Experiment With Shortbread

As a devotee to using the best quality ingredients available which also fit your budget, I wondered in my February 9, 2012 blog post called,  Quality Ingredient of the Week – Butter, “when is it worth spending over $18 for a pound of butter?”  Food experts claim that butter made from the cream of cows who are grass-fed is best; and that butter coming from the Normandy region of France is the best in the world.  My sister, good friend, A, and I decided to test this claim by using my sister’s favorite shortbread recipe, baking it with three types of quality, unsalted butters.  We then had the awesome chore of tasting and evaluating our results, all over a superior cup of Monkey Picked Oolong tea which A. steeped for us. We were quite serious in our approach to this experiment.  Our evaluation focused on which taste we preferred and “was the priciest butter worth it”.

The results are in…..drum roll please….

The butters...President French grass fed, Irish Kerrygold grass fed, Challenge California butter...all unsalted

The butters…President French grass fed, Irish Kerrygold grass fed, Challenge California butter…all unsalted

 

All three made scrumptious cookies and on their own would be enjoyed.

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The cookie made with the California Challenge brand butter had quite a different texture than the Irish and French butters, more dense and smooth.  Not so crumbly,  probably due to having a bit more moisture in the Challenge brand butter than the Kerrygold and President European brands.  We liked the crumbly texture and more buttery taste of the European butters. The French brand did finish with a bit more buttery taste than the other two.

In the end, the question of whether it is worth spending over double the price per pound for the French butter versus the other two

Shortbreads...the results...all were scrumptious...crumbly, buttery and perfect with tea. The Challenge butter resulted in a less crumbly batter which was easy to work with

Shortbreads…the results…all were scrumptious…crumbly, buttery and perfect with tea. The Challenge butter resulted in a less crumbly batter which was easy to work with

IMG_2736 IMG_2737 IMG_2745resulted in a big…”depends on the audience you are serving these to,” but, probably not worth using the French butter for this purpose.  Save it for another usage.  A big “yes” on the Irish butter, as my sister said, she likes how “the cookie crumbled” (pun intended) using that European butter.  And it was not significantly higher in price than our local California butter.

The next day I had a couple other friends do the taste test and one overwhelmingly preferred the “not as crumbly” cookies  but went for the smoother, denser texture of the California butter.

We purchased the President French Butter at Gelson’s Grocery Store, a fine small California grocery chain, the Kerrygold from Trader Joe’s Markets, and the Challenge Butter from Ralphs Markets.

It was a great excuse to bake with friends and drink tea.

6 Comments

  1. What a wonderful experiment, and I love the way you marked the products! I’ve never heard of making shortbread in a muffin tin before, but it sounds like an excellent idea. The tea looks gorgeous, as do all the cookies, and I think I could quite happily scoff any of them. That President butter is quite cheap here, but then I suppose it’s all about shipping costs. I’m going to have to try using it for shortbread some time and see how it comes out, because I like the idea of the crumbliness. I’ll have to compare the price of that and the Kerrygold, I don’t know which is more expensive in the UK. Great post!

    • Interesting Lorna that the President French butter is inexpensive in Scotland. Yes, must be the shipping costs and taxes. I will have to fine the really expensive French one and use it against this President brand to see how they fair. It was a fun test and good excuse to eat several cookies. 🙂

  2. I love your butter taste test…and the shortbread was the perfect food to compare for texture and taste!

    • Yes it was quite fun and a good test. My sister’s idea. Thanks for your comments

  3. Oh, to be a judge on that panel! (Call me next time, please–I’ll be right over.)

    • Yes, it wasn’t tough duty at all…we had to keep tasting and tasting til we got our assessments correct (which was that we loved all the cookies 🙂
      Thanks for your comment.