I am so very, very excited to share this recipe with you guys today. Dates! They are delicious! I think I’ve always known that but hardly ever cooked with them. That’s going to change for sure in the coming months. Man, this date butter is insane. While this baby simmered on the stove I swear it smelled like bacon. Bacon! Now I sorta get why the two are constantly being paired together.
To add to this crazy good butter, I decided to include meyer lemons for the acid component because: hey I just met you and this is crazy but here’s my number call me maybe? I bought a bag of meyer lemons for the first time a couple weeks ago and fell in love with them hard. Stalkingly obsessed hard. Pretty sure I’m never using regular lemons ever again.
The combination of both of these new-found crushes together in one tasty butter has been rocking my world since day one. I want to eat it all by itself in a dark corner of the room. I’m gonna need serious privacy.
Despite the name, this butter doesn’t actually have butter. Kinda funny isn’t it? Maybe it was coined a butter because of how easy it is to spread. Fruit butters are different than jams and jellies in terms of how long you cook them for. I let mine simmer for roughly 45 minutes but you can let it go for even longer. To be honest, I couldn’t wait any longer it smelled so good. I may have torched the roof of my mouth tasting it off the stove.
My obsession for making a fruit butter was born from my previous obsession with Trader Joe’s fig butter. That stuff, my friends, is bomb. I think I finished the entire contents of that jar within a week of opening. I ate it slathered on a bagel with cream cheese. And it was so good. I woke up in the morning excited to eat it. That’s saying something!
Naturally, I had to eat this lovely date meyer lemon butter with cream cheese and bagels too. All in the name of comparative research, course.
// date meyer lemon butter
recipe adapted from bon appétit
makes about 1 cup
1 1/3 cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup water + 1 cup water, divided in half to add during cooking
// In a small sauce pot, combine the dates, meyer lemon juice, honey, and 1/2 cup water. Set to boil and then lower to gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup water once the liquid in the pot evaporates, about 15 minutes into the cooking process. Repeat again in another 15 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup water to the pot. After the water evaporates again, let the dates caramelize slightly in the pot for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently. I let this butter cook for about 45 minutes but you can choose to cook for longer if you want an even more intense flavor. You might have to add more water though.
After this finished cooking, I pressed it through a fine sieve to separate the butter from any extra liquid. You can leave it as is, it’s delicious either way, but I wanted to try it as a thick butter and as a thin sauce. The butter was excellent slathered on anything and the sauce was outrageous drizzled on anything (but made for a more luxurious experience, i think). Both variations are phenomenal. The butter keeps fabulously in a glass container in the fridge for about a week but I seriously doubt it will last that long!
I couldn’t stop at just making a homemade fruit butter. I felt compelled to make a homemade cream cheese too. I never quite realized how easy and straight-forward it was to make cheese at home. You pretty much just mix heavy cream or half and half together with a mesophilic culture starter, or in my case, buttermilk (because that was the quickest, most convenient route, and if you know me, that’s pretty much my middle name(s)) and let it sit on the counter for hours. I have to admit that I was doubtful after about 8 hours. The recipe said it would eventually take the form of a yogurt but mine was nowhere near that state. At hour 10 I was almost ready to dump the entire thing and try the mesophilic culture starter route but when I checked it again at hour 12 I was astounded to find that it really did change into the consistency of a yogurt! Science is amazing!
At that point, you transfer the “yogurt” into cheesecloth, wrap it, and let it hang somewhere to drip whey. After another 12 hours my cream cheese was ready! All I had to do was add a smidge of salt and it was ready to go. This cream cheese tasted like none other that I’ve tried. Super creamy and rich and delicious. As simple as this was to make, I am gonna be all about experimenting with crazy flavor combinations. I adore cream cheese.
// homemade cream cheese, via The Prairie Homestead
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1 quart half and half
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon salt
// Pour half and half and buttermilk into a glass container and stir together. Cover slightly with a towel and leave on the counter to culture anywhere from 8-12 hours. Mine was ready at exactly 12 hours. It’s ready once it looks like yogurt.
Dump the yogurt onto cheesecloth, wrap it, and tie it. Secure it onto a wooden spoon over a tall pitcher for the whey to drip. I let this drip for about 12 hours but it depends on how thin or thick you want your cream cheese to be. The longer it drips, the tangier the cream cheese will taste. Mine was pretty tangy. Once you’re satisfied with the consistency, scoop the cream cheese into a bowl and season with salt. Pour cream cheese into a glass container and store in the fridge.