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VPR Cafe: Better Butters

June 2, 2013 10:45am.  As Betty Botter discovered, a better butter makes a better batter.  And Vermont butters are considered the best by chefs and bakers here in the U.S. and abroad.  Melissa Pasanen talks with Ric Cengeri about the making of butter in Vermont and what makes it better.  You'll find a recipe for Butter Pecan Icebox Cookies below.

Melissa writes for the Savorevore Section of the Burlington Free Press, where you can read more about Vermont butters and the bakers who love them.

The VPR Cafe is produced in collaboration with the Burlington Free Press and is made possible on VPR by theVermont Community Foundation Food and Farm Initiative.

Mentioned in this story:   Butterworks Farm in Westfield;  BeeSting Bakery in Fairfax;  Westford Farmers Market; Animal Farm in Orwell; The Inn at Grace Farm in Fairfax;  Cabot Cheese; August First Bakery in Burlington.

Butter Pecan Icebox Cookies

Adapted from “In a Cheesemaker’s Kitchen” by Allison Hooper (The Countryman Press, 2009)

8 ounces cultured butter, lightly salted, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped

For rolling and sprinkling:

1/2 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and continue mixing until incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture gradually with mixer on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Mix in pecans.

Divide dough into two equal lumps and shape each into a log about 8 by 1 1/2 inches. Stir together additional 1/2 cup pecans, sugar and cinnamon. Spread pecan-cinnamon sugar mixture on a cutting board and roll each log to coat, pressing gently to get mixture to adhere. Wrap logs in waxed paper or plastic wrap and either refrigerate overnight or freeze for a couple hours.

When ready to bake, remove dough from refrigerator or freezer and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice logs into 1/4-inch slices and place them on a greased or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle tops with any remaining pecan-cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown. (If baking two sheets at a time, rotate trays between oven racks halfway through baking and add a couple minutes more baking time.) Remove cookies from cookie sheets and cool on a rack. Makes about 40 cookies.

Franny was VPR's Director of Programming & Production.
Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
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