softened baking butter

we're entering into the holiday season jam packed with baking, decorating, shopping and entertaining, which means lots of recipes, and not quite as much time.  it's during this frenzied season that i kind of dread seeing the words "butter, softened" or "butter, room temperature" within a recipe. especially when my sticks are chilling in the fridge, hard as rocks...ain't nobody got time for that.

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unfortunately, the texture of butter is crucially important in baking. if a recipe calls for softened butter, a melted or hardened variety just isn't workable. your end product will suffer, and all we want for christmas is a season of struggle-free goodies. 

thankfully while the texture of butter may be non-negotiable, you can get your butter to your desired softness in a snap. you have a couple options for a quick fix:

1. you can use the grater method, which has some other fringe benefits, but i find this to be messy. (and it leaves me with one more item to clean. no thanks.)

2. you can place the butter in a ziplock bag and leave in warm water (not hot!) until softened, but again...that's a few more materials than i care to use.

3. however my most preferred method, takes only twenty seconds and a microwave:

simply pop your butter still in it's wrapper (do not use this method for foil-wrapped varieties and if you have the option, turn your turntable off) into the microwave laying on it's side. heat on high for 5 seconds, turn clockwise onto the next side (1/4 turn), microwave for another 5 seconds, turn and microwave again and then repeat once more.

remove your butter from the microwave, pop it out of it's wrapper, and you're ready to rock.

i know, it's almost TOO simple, but this has really saved me on several occasions and felt it was worth a share.

happy [holiday] baking!