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.
What Is Butterkäse, and How Do You Pronounce It?
As you can probably guess, butterkäse comes from Germany, and literally means “butter cheese.” Most Americans would pronounce it “butter case,” but it’s actually pronounced more like “booter-keh-zuh.”
Butterkäse 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.
Butterkäse Recipes: Do I Use It in German Food?
You certainly can, but butterkäse’s creamy-smooth, open texture complements a wide variety of foods. It’s great with 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. And yes, you can put it in German food. Dress up the classic German side dish spätzle with shredded butterkäse and a little butter. Butterkäse is a perfect table cheese, since it can be sliced or even spread if allowed to come to room temperature.
Butterkäse is so mellow and rich it can even be used in desserts to add a buttery richness.
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.
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.
A light lager, especially a crisp Pilsner, is the best complement to butterkäse.
Smoked, cured ham
Pepperoni, salami or summer sausage
Grapes, melon, plums
So Where Can I Buy Butterkäse?
We happen to know a great place to find butter cheese.