(Last updated: November 2021) This drunken cranberry orange compound butter is the perfect addition to any holiday or special occasion table.
The stuff is just too easy to make—and too darned good.
What is compound butter?
If you’ve never made it, compound butter is a great way to add a lot of flavor to a dish with very little effort.
It’s generally used as a finishing ingredient or a garnish.
To make compound butter, just soften the butter up, then smoosh in a bunch of ingredients to give it a certain flavor.
Mmm, cranberries soaked in cognac
For this particular compound butter, you macerate (soak) chopped, dried cranberries in cognac.
The cranberries plump up and absorb a little of the liquor. The remaining cognac gets perfumed with cranberry flavor.
Use sweetened dried cranberries for this recipe. (In the U.S., I’m talking about the ubiquitous Craisin.)
Uses for cranberry orange butter
This Drunken Cranberry Orange Butter is great on baked goods (English muffins, croissants, etc.). For brunch, it also makes a great topping for pancakes, waffles, and French toast.
You can use it as a spread for chicken or turkey sandwiches—or stir it into wild rice before serving.
The sweetness of the dried cranberries is tempered by a generous drizzle of cognac and a spoonful of bright, fresh orange zest.
If you don’t have any cognac on hand, try a little brandy or even dark rum.
Best flavors for compound butter
When it comes to making compound butter, your imagination is pretty much your limit.
You could try:
- Ground cumin, garlic, and oven-roasted chilis
- Sesame oil, sriracha, and ginger
- Chopped dried apricots, toasted walnuts, and brandy
- Fresh oregano, sundried tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts
- Roasted garlic cloves and fresh parsley
I have two other flavor-packed, compound butter recipes on the site. Check out my:
And don’t forget, compound butters don’t have to be savory. You can also think about combinations like:
- Ground cinnamon, clove, and ginger with a little brown sugar
- Vanilla bean paste and raw, local honey
- Cardamom and a little sugar
Drunken Cranberry Orange Compound Butter
8 Tbls. butter (that’s one stick in the U.S.)
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
2 Tbls. cognac
1 Tbls. orange zest
Yields about 9 Tbls. butter
Macerate the dried cranberries in cognac
Take the butter out of the fridge and set it on the counter to soften.
By the time your cranberries are ready, the butter should be soft enough to use.
Toss them into a small bowl. Drizzle with cognac.
Give them a stir. Let them sit on the counter for about 30 minutes.
Mix up the compound butter
Zest your orange.
After about 30 minutes, you should notice that your cranberries have absorbed some of the cognac.
Toss the orange zest into the bowl.
Put the butter into a medium-sized bowl. Mash it up with a fork to break it up.
Toss in the contents of your bowl (cranberries, cognac, orange zest).
With a fork, mash the contents of your bowl together.
It will take a minute or two to work the cranberries and zest into the butter—and for the cognac to disappear into the butter.
You’re aiming for a uniform mixture, like this:
Give the butter a taste.
This is your chance to correct the seasoning, if you want to.
(Add more orange zest, etc., to it if you think it needs it.)
Roll the compound butter up and refrigerate
Put a large piece of wax paper on the counter.
Scoop the butter mixture onto the center of the paper.
Smoosh it into a rough log shape.
Roll the butter up in wax paper.
Twist each end of the wax paper, just like a hard candy wrapper.
Pop the butter into the fridge for at least an hour, or until solid again.
Enjoy your compound butter!
After about an hour, your butter should have solidified.
When you unroll it to slice it, it’ll be generously flecked with orange rind and bits of cranberry.