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How to Make a Filipino-Style Butter Board

How to Make a Filipino-Style Butter Board
Butter boards are the newest social media food trend you need to try.

If you’ve been on TikTok recently, you may have spotted a new food trend: the butter board. It’s inspired by classic charcuterie boards, featuring an exciting yet balanced mix of flavors and textures. This new trend also has one more thing going for it – it’s less fussy and more affordable than its meaty inspiration. Sure, good-quality butter is not cheap these days. But this appetizer doesn’t require much else, so you can rest assured that costs won’t stack up. Go ahead and grab that bar of butter!

What Is a Butter Board?

Publications like The New York Times and Bon Appétit trace the origins of this trend to creator @justine_snacks, a.k.a. Justine Doiron. The recipe developer has almost two million followers on TikTok, where her take went viral in September 2022. She took inspiration from a recipe in chef Josh McFadden’s cookbook Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables, published in 2017.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: just butter on a board, which is extraordinary in its simplicity. In Doiron’s 28-second video, she spreads softened butter on a wooden board and tops it with salt, lemon zest, honey, herbs, and edible flowers. She serves it with warm bread and says, “It feels really communal. I love it.” Like snack plates and grazing platters before it, butter boards are made for sharing and celebrating the joys of eating together.

How to Make a Butter Board

Choose a food-grade vessel and follow precautions.

When this trend first blew up, health experts expressed concerns about hygiene and sanitation. Unlike grazing tables and other similar communal set-ups, this buttery invention seems more prone to double-dipping. On top of that, wooden cutting boards– like the one used in Doiron’s video – tend to accumulate scratches and deep grooves over time. Butter could melt into these areas, collect gunk, and make the board harder to clean later.

Do you still want to go for a wooden board? Consider placing parchment paper on top for easier clean-up and to prevent contamination. If your budget allows it, shop for a new food-grade wooden board specifically for this purpose. You can also opt for other comparable vessels you might already have, like ceramic plates or a smooth marble slab. Try banana leaves for a tropical, Filipino-inspired touch. Avoid double-dipping by providing your guests with their own snack plates and butter knives to serve themselves with.

Use naturally softened butter.

Don’t be tempted to pop your butter in the microwave to get it soft quickly! It could result in its milk and fat solids separating, ruining the consistency. Plan so you can let it soften naturally at room temperature. Your butter should achieve a spreadable consistency after 30-60 minutes on the counter. It might need less time, depending on how hot it gets in your kitchen. Keep a close eye on it!

Get creative with your spreading techniques.

Create different designs and shapes with your butter. Take inspiration from artful sauce plating techniques or even makeup swatches! All those luscious swooshes, swirls, and smears will make your board come to life. Don’t worry about making it look perfect, either. The beauty of this board lies in how casual and rustic it looks, so just let loose and have fun with it.

Top with complementary add-ons.

Once you've spread your butter, bring in more color, texture, and flavor with various complementary toppings. Even if you’re already using salted butter, there are plenty of other ways to ramp up its flavor. Top with fresh herbs, flaky salt, calamansi zest, and anything else that might pair well. If you’re working with a big board, you can segment it into different sections for even more variety. Have a sweet-and-savory corner, a spicy corner, and so on.

Serve with different bread options.

This trend is essentially just deconstructed bread and butter, so go all out with the bread, too. Offer an assortment of different textures to keep the experience interesting. Crunchy baguette, chewy ciabatta, and soft, freshly baked pandesal would fit right in. You can also upgrade the classic toast-with-butter by opting for toasted sourdough or boule over plain white bread.

Flavored Butter with a Filipino Flair

Sour and savory: butter + Knorr Sinigang sa Sampalok Mix + garlic + seasonings

Combine ½ cup (one stick) butter, 2 teaspoons Knorr Sinigang Mix, 2 cloves garlic, and 1 teaspoon Knorr Liquid Seasoning in a bowl.

Citrusy and sweet: butter + calamansi + honey

Squeeze ripe calamansi for fresh juice and discard any seeds. Mix with butter and honey.

Spiced and savory: butter + lemongrass + ginger + turmeric

Prepare the lemongrass by chopping the bottoms of fresh stalks. Soften these with a rolling pin to release their aromatic oils. Chop finely or pound into a pulp along with ginger. Mix with butter and turmeric powder for vibrant color and spice.

Sweet and savory: butter + ube halaya + cheese

Finely grate soft Pinoy-style cheese and combine with ube halaya straight from the jar. Add butter and mix until combined.

Sweet and slightly bitter: butter + kapeng barako+ sugar

Dissolve instant kapeng barako or espresso powder in hot water. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, combine with sugar (white, brown, or powdered) and butter. Beat until homogenous. If the consistency is runny, add more butter or leave it in the fridge to firm.

Other Pinoy-Inspired Toppings

For savory

  • Fried garlic
  • Chopped siling labuyo
  • Local tomatoes
  • Malunggay leaves
  • Canned pimientos
  • Pickled onions or jalapeños
  • Sliced labanos(radish)
  • Malagos Davao blue cheese

For sweet

  • Local raw honey
  • Toasted buko(coconut)
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Latik (cooked coconut milk or cream)
  • Candied pili nuts
  • Guava jelly or jam
  • Sugar-coated cornflakes
  • Edible flowers, like hibiscus

Butter boards are easily and endlessly customizable! Try your hand at this new trend and see what you come up with! Bring your creation to your next potluck or family gathering and spread the love.

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