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Plugra in Cookies


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#1 claire797

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Posted 07 September 2003 - 09:50 AM

Just bought a pound of super-premium butter and am trying to decide how to use it. I don't usually eat butter on bread and plan to bake something. My first thought is that a shortbread would benefit from Plugra, so that's on deck. But how about chocolate chip cookies? Is there any discernible taste or texture difference?

#2 Mottmott

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Posted 07 September 2003 - 11:09 AM

I love baking with Plugra. Others can speak to what the technical advantages are, why less water in the butter gives a better pastry, etc.

But why do you ask "is it worth it?" Go to Trader Joes, it's $3/lb, which in my part of the country is as inexpensive as you can hope for.
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#3 elyse

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Posted 07 September 2003 - 11:14 AM

I wouldn't bother with anything other than things that really show off the butter, like pound cake, Bretton butter cake, or shortbread. You know, buttery stuff.

#4 claire797

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Posted 07 September 2003 - 12:19 PM

I love baking with Plugra. Others can speak to what the technical advantages are, why less water in the butter gives a better pastry, etc. 

But why do you ask "is it worth it?"  Go to Trader Joes, it's $3/lb, which in my part of the country is as inexpensive as you can hope for.

I can buy European style butter here for $2.99 a pound too. That's about $1.00 more than regular butter, so it's not a huge deal. Still, if you can't tell the difference, then why waste the extra $1.00?

I think I'm going to start with Pecan Sables from Gourmet. I've made these with regular butter many times and they are amazing. They should be even better with Plugra and sea salt. At least that's what Gourmet says.

#5 foodie52

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Posted 07 September 2003 - 05:45 PM

I'll be happy to taste test those for you.

#6 carolswidler

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Posted 07 September 2003 - 05:48 PM

definitely worth it. you can taste the difference.

#7 Alex

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Posted 07 September 2003 - 06:22 PM

*One vote for Plugra in anything.*

For cc cookies, very fresh organic eggs also make a difference, as does premium chocolate. (I use chopped Callebaut or Lindt Extra-Bittersweet.)
Gene Weingarten, writing in The Washington Post about online news stories and their readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

#8 PastryLady

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Posted 07 September 2003 - 06:27 PM

In school we use Plugra for only buttery items that you would taste it in. Definately shortbread would be great, but I personally wouldn't waste the money on chocolate chip cookies, unless that is if you have a dynamite recipe you would like to share :cool: . Mostly we use it at the bakery in croissants and short doughs. Where you need the direct results of high quality butter with the extra butter fat. I am sure it would make your cookies taste better. Wow, I need to go to a Trader Joe's because regular plain ol' 1# of butter at Kroger's is usually about $3.50 and I have seen Plugra for $5 or more a # in MI. I know of one, but it is a bit far from my house. Maybe after work some time. Sorry to babble. Please share your recipe if you would like. Epicurious.com has some good recipies. I checked them out a while back. Do some searches, you may find a good one. They have some good chocolate recipies.
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#9 elyse

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Posted 07 September 2003 - 07:06 PM

Sometimes I like to shred money into my chocolate chip cookies. Friends tell me to use regular paper and some lint, but I can taste the difference.

I wonder if Plugra has a website with recipes.

#10 Mistinguett

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Posted 07 September 2003 - 07:27 PM

I don't usually eat butter on bread

That's what I used to say before I discovered Plugra. Now I can't stop.
On-topic: I subscribe to the opinion that Plugra makes anything baked (or not) better. And getting into economics, it's only 50 cents more expensive than regular butter per batch of cookies. More than worth it.
The human mouth is called a pie hole. The human being is called a couch potato... They drive the food, they wear the food... That keeps the food hot, that keeps the food cold. That is the altar where they worship the food, that's what they eat when they've eaten too much food, that gets rid of the guilt triggered by eating more food. Food, food, food... Over the Hedge

#11 mjc

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Posted 07 September 2003 - 07:35 PM

there are a lot of other posts about butter's. In this one, nightscotsman talks about an article in cooks illustrated that tested different butters.

Why don't you try making the cookies with plugra and another butter and seeing if you can taste the difference? I'm sure we would all be interested in the results.

Edited by mjc, 07 September 2003 - 07:36 PM.

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#12 claire797

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 05:24 AM

I'll be happy to taste test those for you.

The recipe I tested was for the pecan sables from Gourmet. To be honest, I can't say the cookies were any better (definitely not worse) than when I made them the last time with salted butter. I probably need to do an actual side by side.

Since I eat more chocolate chip cookies than any other, I think I will go ahead and try Plugra in chocolate chip too.

MJC, thanks for linking to the butter thread.
Mistinguett, you have convinced me to try it on bread.
Elyse, what kind of money should I used? $10's or $20's. I'm pretty sure shredded $1's would make an inferior cookie.
Pastrylady, I think I will do a few more searches for recipes that excel with Plugra. However, I am going to try chocolate chip cookies too.
Alex, I knew premium chocolate would make a difference, but didn't know premium eggs were so important. Makes sense though.
Foodie, I'll bring some sables by the store.

#13 Mottmott

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 06:27 AM

If you want to test the difference between European style butter such as plugra and "regular" butter, then make a pate brise or other pastry where butter is a critical element in the final texture as well as taste. When you start adding sugar, chocolate, nuts, etc., you have more elements impacting on the result. I've noticed for example even a professionally made filled croissant or pastry is often not as texturally satisfying as a plain one.

I try to elevate my home efforts to compete in quality with what the best local bakeries make. Making a good tart at home is significantly less expensive than buying one at $15-25. If I'm doing the work to make one it's well worth an extra .25/ .50 (1 or 2 crust) per tart in my quest to do a better tart than I can buy.

At some time I think I'll try comparing a plugra dough with one made with an upscale European butter from Normandy. I worry though, that they may not be as fresh as their price may keep them languishing on the shelf longer (US )
"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

#14 claire797

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 06:38 AM

If you want to test the difference between European style butter such as plugra and "regular" butter, then make a pate brise or other pastry where butter is a critical element in the final texture as well as taste.

Well, I have been itching to make a really good, buttery tart. I'll try the pate brise and see if the Plugra makes a difference.

#15 browniebaker

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 06:45 AM

When I use Plugra in shortbread, I definitely can taste the difference. The same is true for my pie crust; Plugra produces a crust that is not only flakier because of the higher fat content of the butter but also tastier.

Because I buy grocery-store-brand unsalted butter on sale at $1.50 and Plugra at Trader Joe's for $2.99, for me Plugra is double the price of regular butter.

I always use Plugra when baking for gifts or for entertaining.

But I guess I would not use it in my brownies, in which the taste of the chocolate (used in large amounts) dominates.

#16 Mottmott

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 10:11 AM

Claire, if you have time, I find that refrigerating the shell whether baked blind or filled after forming and before baking makes it better, flakier. When it's a really wet filling or custard I "seal" the bottom against the moisture with egg white or a fruit glaze and may omit chilling it after filling.
"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

#17 claire797

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 10:24 AM

Claire, if you have time, I find that refrigerating the shell whether baked blind or filled after forming and before baking makes it better, flakier. When it's a really wet filling or custard I "seal" the bottom against the moisture with egg white or a fruit glaze and may omit chilling it after filling.

Thanks for the tip! I have a cookbook called Once Upon A Tart and I think I'm going to experiment with one of their recipes.

#18 Alex

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 10:40 AM

I don't usually eat butter on bread

That's what I used to say before I discovered Plugra. Now I can't stop.
On-topic: I subscribe to the opinion that Plugra makes anything baked (or not) better. And getting into economics, it's only 50 cents more expensive than regular butter per batch of cookies. More than worth it.

I agree. For a commercial operation, an extra 5¢ a cookie can significantly cut into the profit margin. For home baking, I say go for it. Life's too short. However, I also agree with browniebaker that Plugra will have less of an impact (although I think it'll have some) on chocolate brownies. I use it anyway, though. In everything. As Mottmott pointed out, I like to support my local supermarket's carrying the brand (my request!) and want to help the stock keep turning over.
Gene Weingarten, writing in The Washington Post about online news stories and their readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

#19 PastryLady

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 12:42 PM

To be honest, I can't say the cookies were any better (definitely not worse) than when I made them the last time with salted butter.


Claire, you want to use unsalted butter instead of salted. Salted butter should (in my opion) only be used for buttering bread etc and not for pastries. Often your end product can be too salted and the butter may be old as salt is a preservative. They also add color to salted butter (also to disguise age) and your product would possibly have a darker color than using unsalted butter. Have a great time with your recipies!
Debra Diller
"Sweet dreams are made of this" - Eurithmics

#20 PastryLady

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 12:45 PM

I should also mention that many people at home mix their doughs too much. This takes out some of the flakiness (think pie dough). When using unsalted butter, most recipies will have a listing for salt on the side. You are dealing with chemistry of taste when baking and this is a step (using unsalted butter) that comes in when doing so.
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#21 Alex

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 01:03 PM

To be honest, I can't say the cookies were any better (definitely not worse) than when I made them the last time with salted butter.


Claire, you want to use unsalted butter instead of salted. Salted butter should (in my opion) only be used for buttering bread etc and not for pastries. Often your end product can be too salted and the butter may be old as salt is a preservative. They also add color to salted butter (also to disguise age) and your product would possibly have a darker color than using unsalted butter. Have a great time with your recipies!

Yes, definitely unsalted only. It is true that salted butter may not be as fresh as unsalted. (I don't know if this applies to Plugra or other premium butter.) I also use unsalted for buttering bread -- that lets each person choose how much salt s/he wants. (None for me!)
Gene Weingarten, writing in The Washington Post about online news stories and their readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

#22 claire797

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 02:13 PM

To be honest, I can't say the cookies were any better (definitely not worse) than when I made them the last time with salted butter.


Claire, you want to use unsalted butter instead of salted. Salted butter should (in my opion) only be used for buttering bread etc and not for pastries. Often your end product can be too salted and the butter may be old as salt is a preservative. They also add color to salted butter (also to disguise age) and your product would possibly have a darker color than using unsalted butter. Have a great time with your recipies!

Yes, definitely unsalted only. It is true that salted butter may not be as fresh as unsalted. (I don't know if this applies to Plugra or other premium butter.) I also use unsalted for buttering bread -- that lets each person choose how much salt s/he wants. (None for me!)

Right. I always use unsalted in my baking these days. However, the last time I made the pecan sables, all I had on hand was salted and the cookies tasted a little better. Maybe the recipe just needs a bit more salt. Next time I'll use unsalted butter and up the salt a bit.

#23 pastrymama

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 08:14 PM

you can find recipes for using plugra at www.butter1.com that is the site for Kellers Creamery, I think they produce Plugra. there is a whole list of dessert recipes. I did make chocolate chip cookies from a recipe I received from Plugra years ago, I didn't like the results, they were too hard for my taste. I haven't tried the recipes on the butter1.com site so I can't say if they are good or not, but thought I would pass it on to you to check out. I also only use the Plugra for laminating and in butter cakes and cookies where the difference shows up. :rolleyes:
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#24 Alex

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 08:21 PM

I always use unsalted in my baking these days.  However, the last time I made the pecan sables, all I had on hand was salted and the cookies tasted a little better.  Maybe the recipe just needs a bit more salt.  Next time I'll use unsalted butter and up the salt a bit.

I suspect you're on target. Could this be related to salted nuts tasting so much better than unsalted? I'd be curious to hear if you tast any difference this way.
Gene Weingarten, writing in The Washington Post about online news stories and their readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

#25 Mistinguett

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Posted 08 September 2003 - 08:34 PM

I like to support my local supermarket's carrying the brand (my request!) and want to help the stock keep turning over.

I almost danced in the supermarket aile when my Queens supermarket started selling Plugra. AND 10 cents cheaper than Fairway :biggrin: . I, too, buy it thinking that they won't discontinue selling it if stock goes fast.

In a Gourmet issue last year I read an article about the use of Plugra and other premium butters for baking. I don't remember the specifics, as what came better or not, but I remember that overall, Plugra got excellent grades. Runner-up was Land O Lakes european style - but I wasn't thrilled with it.
The human mouth is called a pie hole. The human being is called a couch potato... They drive the food, they wear the food... That keeps the food hot, that keeps the food cold. That is the altar where they worship the food, that's what they eat when they've eaten too much food, that gets rid of the guilt triggered by eating more food. Food, food, food... Over the Hedge

#26 claire797

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Posted 09 September 2003 - 10:43 AM

I like to support my local supermarket's carrying the brand (my request!) and want to help the stock keep turning over.

I almost danced in the supermarket aile when my Queens supermarket started selling Plugra. AND 10 cents cheaper than Fairway :biggrin: . I, too, buy it thinking that they won't discontinue selling it if stock goes fast.

In a Gourmet issue last year I read an article about the use of Plugra and other premium butters for baking. I don't remember the specifics, as what came better or not, but I remember that overall, Plugra got excellent grades. Runner-up was Land O Lakes european style - but I wasn't thrilled with it.

It was the Gourmet article that triggered me to actually purchase some Plugra. I knew about European-style butter, but the article convinced me to actually buy some.

#27 foodie52

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Posted 09 September 2003 - 05:23 PM

claire brought me some of her wonderful pecan sables today....they are buttery and fresh and melt-in-your-mouth. I shared them with a few select people: everyone agreed that they were perfect.

Whatever you used, it worked.

Thanks for sharing!

#28 claire797

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Posted 09 September 2003 - 09:05 PM

claire brought me some of her wonderful pecan sables today....they are buttery and fresh and melt-in-your-mouth. I shared them with a few select people: everyone agreed that they were perfect.

Whatever you used, it worked.

Thanks for sharing!

I used the Plugra. Maybe I should bring you some non-Plugra cookies just so you'll have something to compare.

#29 claire797

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Posted 10 September 2003 - 10:44 AM

The results are in. I made a rhubarb strawberry tart using a combination of shortening and Plugra. Unbelievable! I have never tasted a better tart crust. Ever. I will never, ever use regular butter in pie crust again.

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#30 Toliver

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Posted 10 September 2003 - 01:04 PM

The results are in. 

It looks delicious!
Thanks for doing a taste-test and posting the results. This is one of the reasons why I find eGullet to be so invaluable.
Doing a taste-test for Plugra sure beats doing a taste-test for fake chocolate bars, eh? (Darn it, I can't find that thread!)

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