Butterkäse: Wisconsin’s Little-Known “Butter Cheese”
With all the richness for which German food is known, this semi-soft cheese might just be your new secret weapon in recipes or the next cheese and wine party.
If you’re looking for a truly versatile cheese that’s a refreshing alternative from the mainstream, we’ve got a suggestion for you. It’s mild enough that kids will love it (and it makes a killer mac and cheese), yet sophisticated enough to serve with fine wines at a grownup gathering. Intrigued? We thought so. Meet Butterkäse Cheese.
What Is Butterkäse, and How Do You Pronounce It?
As you can probably guess, butterkäse comes from Germany, and literally means “butter cheese.” It is traditionally made near the Swiss border in Germany as well as in Austria, where it is equally beloved for its creamy texture and buttery taste. It is also called damenkäse or “ladies cheese” because it is odorless and delicately flavored. Thanks to German immigrants in the area, butterkäse is made in the true Alpine tradition here in Wisconsin. It ripens in just one month, making it a young, buttery snack cheese with a mild, approachable flavor reminiscent of American Muenster. It absolutely melts in your mouth…and with a fat content of 50 percent, it is truly decadent.
How Do You Pronounce Butterkäse?
“Butterkäse” is pronounced by most Americans as “butter case,” but it’s actually pronounced as “boo-ter-kay-zuh” in English. Here is a breakdown of the pronunciation:
- “Butter”: Pronounced as “boo-ter,” similar to the English word “butter.”
- “käse”: Pronounced as “kay-zuh,” with the “kay” sounding like the English word “kay” and the “zuh” rhyming with “duh.”
Putting it together, the pronunciation is “boo-ter-kay-zuh.”
What are the Best Butterkäse Recipes?
You certainly can, but butterkäse’s creamy-smooth, open texture complements a wide variety of foods. Butterkäse cheese is a versatile cheese that can be used in various recipes, both savory and sweet. It’s great with crackers, on sliced ham in a sandwich, melts beautifully over steamed vegetables and burgers, and is fabulous in a grilled cheese (OK, or a panino). Shred it into omelets and quiches. Make a cheese sauce for pasta. Butterkäse is a perfect table cheese, since it can be sliced or even spread if allowed to come to room temperature.
Here are some popular Butterkäse cheese recipes:
- Grilled Butterkäse Sandwich: This is a simple and delicious recipe where Butterkäse cheese is melted between two slices of bread. You can add ingredients like ham, bacon, or tomatoes for extra flavor.
- Butterkäse Cheese Fondue: Melt Butterkäse cheese with some white wine, garlic, and herbs to create a creamy and flavorful cheese fondue. Serve it with bread cubes, vegetables, or fruits for dipping.
- Butterkäse Mac and Cheese: Make a creamy mac and cheese by adding melted Butterkäse cheese to a classic macaroni and cheese recipe. The buttery flavor of the cheese enhances the richness of the dish.
- Butterkäse and Caramelized Onion Pizza: Top a pizza crust with caramelized onions and slices of Butterkäse cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the crust is crispy. You can also add additional toppings like bacon or arugula for extra flavor.
- Butterkäse Stuffed Chicken Breast: Stuff chicken breasts with Butterkäse cheese and herbs, then bake or grill until the chicken is cooked and the cheese is melted. This creates a juicy and flavorful main dish.
- Butterkäse Cheese Dip: Melt Butterkäse cheese with some cream and seasonings to create a smooth and creamy dip. Serve it with bread, crackers, or vegetables for dipping.
These are just a few examples of the many delicious Butterkäse cheese recipes you can try. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different flavors and ingredients to discover your own favorite recipes.
German Butterkäse Recipes
There are a few traditional German recipes that feature Butterkäse as a key ingredient. Here are the two most popular ones:
- Butterkäse Spätzle: Spätzle is a traditional German pasta dish. In this recipe, cooked Spätzle noodles are mixed with sautéed onions and cubed or shredded Butterkäse cheese. The mixture is then baked until the cheese is melted and bubbly, creating a comforting and flavorful dish. Top with a little butter.
- Butterkäse Salad: This salad typically consists of fresh greens, such as lettuce or arugula, tossed with a simple vinaigrette dressing. Thinly sliced or grated Butterkäse cheese is added to the salad, providing a creamy and rich element. Additional toppings like cherry tomatoes, radishes, or cucumbers can be included for added freshness and crunch.
These are just a couple of examples of German recipes that incorporate Butterkäse cheese. However, it’s worth noting that Butterkäse is also commonly enjoyed on its own or served alongside a variety of cold cuts, bread, and condiments as part of a cheese platter or snack.
Butterkäse with Desserts?
Butterkäse cheese is a German cheese known for its creamy and rich, buttery flavor. While it is commonly used in savory dishes, it can also be incorporated into certain desserts to add a unique twist. Here are a few ways you can use Butterkäse cheese in desserts:
- Cheesecake: Butterkäse can be used as an alternative to cream cheese in cheesecake recipes. Its smooth texture and mild flavor can contribute to a creamy and rich dessert.
- Fruit and cheese platters: Butterkäse pairs well with fruits like apples, pears, and grapes. You can include thin slices of Butterkäse alongside fruits on a dessert platter to create a sweet and savory combination.
- Tarts and pastries: Incorporating Butterkäse cheese into tart fillings or pastries can yield interesting flavor profiles. It can be used in combination with fruits, nuts, or other sweet ingredients to create a unique and indulgent dessert. In particular, try Butterkäse with an Apple Tart. Here’s how: Create a sweet and savory tart by combining thinly sliced Butterkäse cheese with thinly sliced apples on a puff pastry base. Bake until the pastry is golden and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Grilled cheese dessert: For a sweet twist on a classic grilled cheese sandwich, you can use Butterkäse cheese along with sweet elements like chocolate, caramel, or fruit preserves. The cheese adds a creamy element to balance out the sweetness.
- Cheese-based desserts: Butterkäse can be used as a base for various dessert recipes like cheese mousses, custards, or even a cheese ice cream. Its mild flavor can blend well with other sweet ingredients to create a unique dessert experience.
When using Butterkäse cheese in desserts, it’s important to consider the overall flavor profile and balance it with the sweetness of other ingredients. Experimenting with small batches and adjusting the quantities according to your taste preferences is recommended.
Cheese and Wine…and Other Pairings
As previously mentioned, butterkäse goes well with many foods. This makes it a perfect addition to a wine and cheese party (where you can also show off your incredible knowledge by pronouncing butterkäse). Slice it and serve it on a platter with meats, fruits, pickles and olives, and sourdough bread. If you’re serving a flight of cheese, serve it early so its delicate flavor isn’t overshadowed by a sharp Cheddar or pungent blue cheese. It’s also excellent after dinner with brandy.
- Wine: Butterkäse goes best with a medium white wine like chardonnay, semillon or a crisp German riesling, but red wine lovers will enjoy it with a robust zinfandel.
- Beer: A light lager, especially a crisp Pilsner, is the best complement to butterkäse.
- Meats: Smoked, cured ham, pepperoni, salami or summer sausage
- Fruits: Grapes, melon, plums
Where Can I Buy Butterkäse Cheese?
Butterkäse cheese can be purchased at various places, including:
- Specialty Cheese Shops: Local specialty cheese shops or gourmet food stores often carry Butterkäse cheese. These establishments specialize in a wide range of cheeses and are more likely to have a selection of international cheeses, including Butterkäse.
- Supermarkets: Some well-stocked supermarkets or grocery stores with a diverse cheese section may carry Butterkäse cheese. Look for it in the cheese aisle, particularly in the section dedicated to specialty or imported cheeses.
- Farmers’ Markets: Local farmers’ markets occasionally have cheese vendors who offer a variety of artisanal and specialty cheeses, which may include Butterkäse. Check with your nearby farmers’ market to see if they have any cheese vendors.
- Online Retailers: Numerous online retailers specialize in selling cheese and gourmet food products. You can search for Butterkäse cheese on websites such as gourmet food stores, or cheese-specific online retailers. They can ship the cheese directly to your location.
When purchasing Butterkäse cheese, it’s a good idea to check the expiry or best-by dates and consider any storage or handling instructions provided by the retailer. Additionally, keep in mind that availability may vary depending on your location and the specific stores in your area.