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Charcuterie boards have matured in America over the years from a few grapes and cheese slices to a colorful, extravagant spread of tastes and textures. People are always looking for new things to put on boards. And so, we arrive at the butter board, the latest a viral food trend.
Butter boards entered the mainstream consciousness earlier this month, made popular by Justine Doiron (@justine_snacks), who credits the recipe to chef Joshua McFadden. On September 15, Doiron posted on Instagram that she wants to make butter boards the next charcuterie boards. After the post received 8 million views and 180,000 likes, McFadden wrote Foiron back. “Seems like the secret is out about butter boards,” he replied.
A butter board is exactly what the name suggests: butter, on a board. Generally, the butter board maker will spread softened butter onto a fancy wooden board or platter and sprinkle it with flaky sea salt, lemon zest, herbs, honey, edible flowers, or whatever other creative toppings you might enjoy. Serve with a basket of bread for guests to dig in.
“It looks like another viral trend that hit at the moment when people are thinking about entertaining and COVID-19 has calmed down,” says trendologist Kara Nielsen. “So one can imagine gathering around a colorful and attractive new type of board.”
Can You Make a Vegan Butter Board?
Clever vegans have a way of developing plant-based alternatives to pretty much every food fad that comes along. But in the case of butter boards, is vegan butter going to produce that same creamy-yet-board stable quality that Doiron shows in her posts?
According to VT contributor Chef Andy Zambrano, vegan butter is more likely to separate if left out for a while.
“Because regular butter has fatty proteins from the milk, it’ll hold longer. But if you eat vegan butter within the hour, you can make it work,” he says. “Time and heat will be working against you. Eventually, the fat from the butter will separate and become an oily mess.”
To combat that separation, Zambrano recommends allowing your vegan butter to come to room temperature, spread and dress it on the board, then put it back in the fridge to harden again.
Erin Gort, social media and community manager for Miyoko’s Creamery, believes vegan butter boards are absolutely possible.
“Of course vegan butter works for this trend! Miyoko’s salted or unsalted European style would work great as a butter board base,” Gort says. “We recently whipped up several truly delicious compound butter recipes on our Vegan Butter Academy
that would adapt great to a board.”
She recommends using the unsalted Miyoko’s butter with some swirls of vanilla and a garnish of edible flowers. For the Miyoko’s salted butter, sprinkle on crispy shallots and tarragon. And for a holiday butter board, choose either salted or unsalted and drizzle on some maple syrup, orange zest and dried cranberries.
“Our fall Cranberry Orange Maple Compound Butter would pair wonderfully with vegan cornbread bites,” Gort says. “The sweeter Vanilla Flower Power goes great with simple shortbread cookies or a slice of pound cake.”
Amy Norris, Sales and Marketing Coordinator for WayFare Foods, says vegan butter and dairy butters are similar enough to make a swap.
“Vegan butter comes in both stick and tub form, but either way you’d want it to get close to room temperature,” Norris says. “Our butter [WayFare] has a lower fat content compared to other vegan brands, so it would spread nicely.”
Norris notes the best thing about vegan butter boards is the inclusivity.
“Butter boards are all about gathering with loved ones and communal food,” she says. “And it’s all the better when we can include our vegan friends and those with dairy allergies.”
Health coach Brittany Mullins was worried she wouldn’t be able to partake in the butter board trend because she’s dairy-free, but using Trader Joe’s Vegan Buttery Spread, she made the perfect plant-based party snack.
“The only thing that took a bit of time was leaving the butter out at room temperature to soften it before spreading it out on the board,” Mullins says. “But this would be true with traditional butter as well.”
Mullins adds once the vegan butter was soft, it spread perfectly and didn’t separate after sitting out for a bit. She topped her butter board with Maldon flaky sea salt, lemon zest, edible flowers and honey – though, for vegans, she suggests maple syrup or agave.
“I served it up with toasted homemade sourdough bread,” Mullins says. “The flavor was absolutely delicious! It’s not something I would make everyday, but it’s a fun idea for hosting.”