Whipped butter is a type of butter that has been whipped to mix in normal air or nitrogen gas. The point is to create something that spreads more easily, even after it has been slightly chilled. Many companies also whip butter as a way of increasing the volume of it without actually adding more butterfat. By law in the United States, whipped butter has to contain at least 25% butterfat.
Many restaurants, especially fine-dining establishments, create their own whipped butter to serve with bread or before-dinner items. This type of butter has a creaminess to it that not only makes it easier to spread evenly over food, but that also makes it seem more luxurious. At the same time, many people consider it supportive of healthier eating, as most people wind up eating less butterfat when they use whipped butter, since they can cover their piece of bread with it easily, reducing the amount of clumping.
Whipped butter should not be used in cooking, however, as it melts quite a bit faster than normal butter and often creates a foam. This can affect recipes that depend on melt time. Additionally, it isn’t a good substitute in baking recipes, because these recipes usually give measurements in terms of volume. Since this butter has so much air in it, using a certain quantity of it will add much less butterfat to the recipe than it may be calling for, although if the recipe gives measurements in terms of weight, a more accurate substitution can be made.
Some restaurants also mix in ice water with their whipped butter to further extend the amount of butter yielded by a small amount of butterfat. This is a great solution for restaurants serving cold bread, but does not work with warm breads or sides. This is because, if the butter melts too much, the ice water will reappear, drenching the bread in water rather than butter.
Making whipped butter at home is very easy. All one need do is put already softened butter, left out of a refrigerator for a time, into a food processor. Then put the food processor on a low setting and leave it for a few minutes, until air has been mixed in and created a fluffy butter. Cooks can then store this in a glass container or a dispensing bag. Some people take an extra step and freeze the butter between whipping it, repeating this five or six times to get as much air as possible into the butter. Hand mixing can work as well, although one should allow at least three phases of ten minutes of mixing to get enough air in.
Some people warn that making whipped butter at home can make it less sturdy in terms of leaving it out at room temperature. Mixing air into the butter can cause it to go rancid more quickly, so it is important to refrigerate the butter after using it, or else to use it fairly quickly. Commercial whipped butter uses nitrogen gas in its creation, so that it will not go rancid.