24 July 2010

Oh ghee-z!

Since i always seem to make ghee in small, bowl-of-oatmeal sized batches, i finally thought it best to make enough to use daily. while not the most elite of butters, costco does sell 1lb slabs of unsalted butter fairly cheap. since i seem to have so much butter lying around, why not make one of those slabs into sweet, delicious ghee.

a little background on ghee, also known as clarified butter. in ayurvedic cooking and philosophy, ghee is medicinal. it is said to ignite the fire (Agni) of digestion when taken early in the morning. it is especially good in a hot bowl of steel cut oats.
ghee is also useful in treating cuts and burns, moisturizing the skin and adding to your favorite bath scent for a luxurious experience.
the other great part: lactose free! lactose, the sugar in milk, is part of the solid that rises in the process of making ghee. you are left with milk fat.
who knew butter could be SO good?!

ghee is very simple to make and store for use in all your daily butter needs.
of course, the higher quality of butter (organic, raw butter would work nicely), the better your outcome.

to make ghee:

• use a heavy pot, preferably stainless steel (i used my cast iron one, but i think it got too hot). bring butter to a boil, and then reduce heat to VERY low. as it simmers, the milk solids will begin to rise to the top.

• i keep a bowl to the side and use a large, clean spoon to begin scraping the solids off the top, placing them in the bowl.
this may take time, and it may be good to let the butter sit for a while as solids rise. i made the mistake of allowing the heat to stay higher, browning my ghee a bit. it's not bad, but it give a nuttier flavor.

• once the solids have been removed, pour the ghee through a cheesecloth (or paper towel) into your storing vessel. this will remove any solids that have gone to the bottom, leaving you with liquid gold.

• store in an airtight container, preferably at room temperature as not to allow condensation to develop in the container. i used a 16 oz. mason jar. LET IT COOL BEFORE YOU SEAL.

now, i wouldn't write a whole post on ghee if i wasn't planning on using this amazing product. no, no, no. as i said, i've used it in oatmeal, but have yet to explore more ornate dishes. i really wanted to bake with my daughter and niece, using my fresh-made ghee, but wasn't sure how it would react in a baking environment.
i had some blackberries that i froze last month, and thought i'd try it out in a simple blackberry cobbler.
not bad!

Ghee-licious blackberry cobbler
Serves 6-8

For "filling":

• about 2 cups of fresh or thawed blackberries, drained completely if frozen
• 1/2 cup of sugar, or sugar substitute of your choice (to taste...i used very little sugar)

For crust:

• 1 cup of flour
• 2 tsp. of baking powder
• 3/4-1 cup of milk
• 1/2 tsp of salt
• 1/2 cup of ghee
• 1 tsp of ground cinnamon

Begin by letting sugar and blackberries marinate for 15-20 minutes. This should warrant delicious, sweet blackberries with a syrupy liquid.

While that sits, preheat oven to 350.

Add flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon to a bowl, mixing just to combine. Add milk slowly. You may find you need less or more milk. At this point the dough should be slightly sticky, not dry, like a pie crust. Add in the ghee and stir to incorporate. This dough is infectiously delicious. Butter, buttery.

Spread about 2/3 of this dough on the bottom of an 8-inch round or square baking dish. I used round and it was great.
Pour all of the blackberry mixture on top. Add the remaining dough on top, lightly spreading it. Alternately, you could put ALL the dough on the bottom, or the top. It's all going to ooze the same way :)

Place in 350 oven for about 30 minutes. Check that dough is cooked through. It will be moist, almost like a cake, rather than a crust. It doesn't look super cooked, but your mouth will tell you differently.
Like any other cobbler, this is best served warm. I had it without garnish, but fresh whipped cream would have been delicious!

i love the texture the ghee gives this. i'm used to a more crumbly cobbler or crisp type dessert, but love the cake-iness of this version. while not exactly figure friendly, it's a much better option than the traditional sugar-infused, buttery desserts.

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