Finlandia for National Dairy Month

Life is short. Eat good butter.

I didn’t even know it was National Dairy Month until someone from Finlandia (the dairy company, not the vodka!) contacted me asking if I’d be interested in some complimentary butter and cheese to try out. (As my father used to joke, “Is the Pope Catholic?) I do know how lucky I am to be writing about food, and while I always love to taste new products, I make sure to do a little online diligence first, just to be sure it looks like it will be high quality.

In this case, the butter and some of the cheeses are from family farms in Finland, where the milk is free of added hormones (i.e. rBST free). Finns love dairy, so butter and cheese are an important part of their national cuisine, and one they are proud of.

Now, I LUV butter, but not just any old butter. If I am going to spread it on something good, I really like European style cultured sweet butter, with its higher butterfat. I do use some salted butter (not cultured because the salt acts as the preservative), especially for my beloved Armenian dish, herisah.

I received two 8-ounce packs of salted and one of unsalted butter, plus some very good Swiss cheese, in an insulated tote. Nifty! The cheese is just the way I like Swiss, nutty, with holes, and not “wet” in texture. I always wondered if the wet vs. dry preference was just my own quirk, but when I spoke to the deli counter at McCaffrey’s, where they sell Finlandia Swiss Cheese, I was told that they do, in fact, use the term “dry.” (McCaffrey’s doesn’t carry the butter, however. But ShopRite carries several Finlandia cheeses and this week the butter is on sale at the bargain price of $1.74 per 8-ounce package. Even with my free butter, I bought some extra unsalted to stash in my freezer. See this Huffington Post article for comparative butter prices in Fairway Market from last September.)

Now, I almost exclusively use unsalted butter, for baking or spreading, but noticed that the Finlandia recipes online mostly use salted (they call it Finlandia Perfectly Salted Butter), so that’s what I used to make the scones pictured below. (I include my highly adapted recipe below the photos.) I was going to make the Finlandia pound cake, so perfect for summer berries, but really had a hankering for these butterscotch-pecan scones, so I just omitted the salt in the recipe, and it worked out fine. And the salted butter is delicious slathered on the scones, so maybe they’ve made a convert here, as far as salted versus unsalted.

What I noticed about the Finlandia butter: 1. It was quite yellow. That must come naturally since the only ingredients listed are cream and salt. (A lot of mass-market cheese also has “flavorings” and even added color.) And 2. it was very creamy. Now, that might sound weird, it’s cream after all, so it should be creamy, right? But the mouthfeel of the Finlandia cheese seemed exceptionally smooth and creamy to me, compared to others. I actually don’t know what the butterfat % is. (I’ve just emailed my contact so I’ll update this if I hear. UPDATE: See their comments below.)

My scones turned out so well; unlike a previous attempt, the dough held together so I was able to pat it out and cut wedges. (Note to self: next time cut 8 wedges rather than six.) Now, excuse me while I go eat another one with more of that great butter. Thanks Finlandia!

UPDATES:

1. In our experience, baking with salted butter can actually enhance and bring out the sweetness of the sugar. This is totally a matter of personal preference, and we’d be interested to hear your comparison of salted vs. unsalted in sweet baked dishes.

2. The butterfat percentage of Finlandia Unsalted Butter is 82%, while for Finlandia Salted Butter it’s 80%.

 

Butterscotch Pecan Scones (Makes 8)

Liberally adapted from http://bakingbites.com/2010/03/butterscotch-pecan-scones/

2 cups all-purpose flour (I used some King Arthur Mellow Pastry Flour mixed with A-P.)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, chilled (I used Finlandia Perfectly Salted Butter and omitted the salt above.)
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Milk to brush on top

Raw sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into 6-8 chunks and add to flour mixture, tossing to coat. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until mixture is sandy and butter is well distributed, with no pieces larger than a big pea. (I used my food processor for this step, then turned out the dough into a bowl.)

Add in milk and vanilla and stir until dough comes together. Add in butterscotch chips and pecans. (Dough will be quite thick.)

Either keeping the dough in your mixing bowl, or turning it out onto a lightly floured surface, knead dough for 1 – 2 minutes. Divide into two balls and press each into a disc about 3/4-inch thick. Use a knife to divide each disc into quarters and place scones on prepared baking sheet. Brush with milk and sprinkle raw sugar on top of scones.

Bake for 17-22 minutes, until scones are golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack until room temperature. (You can just pull the parchment over to the rack, leaving the scones in place on the parchment.)

Note: The original recipe called for a half cup of butterscotch chips. Another 1/4 cup was used with a tablespoon of milk to make a glaze. I skipped that (thinking it wouldn’t freeze well,) and added the extra chips to the dough. But if you want to make the glaze: When scones are cooled, combine the remaining 1/4 cup butterscotch chips and milk in a small, microwave-safe bowl and melt together (check at short intervals in the microwave and stir frequently). When smooth, drizzle over scones.

 

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