Friday, March 30, 2012


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Photo by Christina Hoheisel  (PS: Christina not only did a fantastic job photographing my Buttah, but went out and found the ingredients, ordered the molds and tackled the recipe, mastering it on the first try!  Thank you so much, Christina!)

You may wonder why a food writer like me, who advocates very moderate use of fat in the diet, would take the time to develop a full-fat homemade vegan buttery spread.
In 2011 (was it really that long ago?) a woman whom I have admired from afar for years wrote to me. Her name is Kay Bushnell and I read her vegan cooking column, Cooking Green, in the Loma Prieta Sierra Club Newsletter for years. (2018 note: Sadly, the column no longer exists.) Kay asked me if there was an alternative to vegan margarine utilizing palm oil and outlined the reasons why she was asking.
I’m ashamed to admit that it took me so long to act on what Kay was telling me. However, I never forgot about what Kay told me, or her request. When 2012 arrived, with my new book finally launched, I decided that this would be my first project for the New Year, and I wrote to Kay to let her know that I was committing to developing an alternative product. She signed on as a tester, and I later recruited a few more.
I worked on this recipe from the beginning of January until the end of March 2012. I wanted my spread to look and taste and behave much like dairy butter. I wanted to be able to use it in baking. I wanted it to be easy and quick to make, with minimal equipment required. I wanted it to cost no more than the most popular vegan margarine.  I wanted options to make it with organic and even fair trade ingredients. And I wanted—no, required-- it to have a healthy balance of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, with the monounsaturated fat playing the starring role—and that meant that my recipe would NOT be coconut oil-based.

I’m happy to say that I succeeded on all counts! Cocoa butter (organic, fair trade, if you can manage it) mixed with a vegetable oil high in monounsaturated fat proved to be the answer, along with a few other simple ingredients. (You can read about the qualities of cocoa butter in the material below.) I tested it in vegan icing, pie crust, cake, scones and biscuits, with no problems at all.

Buttah is really delicious and, besides proving itself in the baking department, it has passed the taste-test with two picky 12-year-old granddaughters (not vegan), a table-full of omni dinner guests who nearly finished off a whole batch, and a mixed bag of tasters at a cocktail party. So, I’m proud to put my name on a homemade product which, as Erik Marcus of vegan dot com wrote, is “… a butter recipe capable of destroying your cravings for dairy products.”  

(PS: Erik Marcus of vegan dot com kindly provided me with a platform larger than my own to introduce my recipe to the vegan community, and I thank him for it.  However, I have made improvements and a "tub" variation over the last 6 years, so I am posting the updated recipe on my dedicated "Buttah" page.)

But, before you jump over to the recipe, please bear with me once again.
Though the recipe itself is simple and quick to make, you’ll have greater success with it if you read the information I have compiled on a dedicated Buttah page on this blog concerning  ingredients, molds and equipment, where to purchase them, nutrition, and fat breakdown. In addition, that page includes material on the palm oil question and the threat to orangutans, and cruelty to Macaque monkeys in coconut production. There are also links to printable copies of both recipe and information.

So, good readers, before you get started, please read the important information on my dedicated Buttah page... and then have fun making your own vegan Buttah from the updated recipe (with a "tub version") on the same page.

Thank you for your patience in waiting for the recipe and in reading through all of my information.  I sincerely hope that you enjoy making and using Buttah, and pass on the palm oil info to others, including food companies. In fact, let's write to our favorite food companies  and let them know that we love their vegan product(s), but could they please find an alternative to palm oil, because... and add some info such as:

PS: A BIG “THANK YOU”, BTW, to Mattie at for his ground-breaking recipe for "Vegan Butter", which provided a launching pad for developing my own recipe. Mattie provides so many details about how butter works and how the ingredients in his recipe work. I was aiming for a product with much less saturated fat, but his work is invaluable.
PPS: If you have any questions about the recipe, ingredients, etc., please contact me via the comments below. You're welcome to link this page--I encourage sharing-- but I prefer that you do not reproduce the recipe. The development of this recipe took me much time and effort, 2+ months of testing at the beginning, and more testing and improving over the last 6 years, so I'm quite proud of it. I'm sharing it for no remuneration, so I hope that everyone will respect this simple request and send people to back this page if they like the recipe. Thank you very much!

Photo by Christina Hoheisel  (PS: Christina not only did a fantastic job photographing the Buttah, but went out and found the ingredients, ordered the molds and tackled the recipe, mastering it on the first try!  Thank you so much, Christina!)



in2insight said...

Bryanna, you are simply brillent!

The depth of the research and the findings themselves are totally awesome on their own. The recipe is just the icing on the cake.

Thank you for making me, and all your readers, better and healthier people.

Mary@FitandFed said...

Just saw this over at congrats on a very original and quite useful recipe!

nataliasalies said...

I've been waiting for this recipe since you first blogged about it earlier this year. Can't wait to get my hands on some fair trade cocoa butter and put this to the test. You have created a truly amazing recipe!

Betsy DiJulio said...

Wow, Bryanna, what an achievement! I'd say it was definitely worth the wait. Brava!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Thank you, Betsy!

Anonymous said...

Bryanna, I just want to say thank you, I keep coming back to this recipe for it's kindness, and it's flavor! I just made a batch with sustainably harvested wild ramp leaves (stirred the blanched, chopped leaves into the buttah just before pouring into molds). Even with a little extra lemon juice to brighten the ramps, and a little liquid from the blanched and patted-dry leaves, the buttah set up great! This is a go-to recipe for me (along with your delicious mayo, that I can't get enough of). Thank you again!