More Techniques: How To Make Gabrielle Hamilton's Mistake Butter

Mistake-Butter_Thumbnail_V1_Fotor.jpg Gabrielle Hamilton is one of the most resourceful chefs out there: here's proof. So when she made the mistake of letting her cream go for too long, she turned her "mistake" into unmistakably delicious "mistake butter." As she says herself, mistakes can be beautiful and we are pretty sure you'll want to mistake over and over again.


Reprinted with permission from Prune.

Yield: 14 ounces butter


1 quart expired heavy cream


  1. At medium-high speed whisk cream. After 2-3 minutes you have perfect whipped cream. A few minutes later, it starts to look like whipped butter. Be sure to scrape sides of bowl down as the cream thickens and sticks to the sides of the bowl. When the cream is very thick, you can turn the mixer up to high without worrying about getting cream everywhere, after about 10 minutes. After 14 minutes the liquid and fat begin to separate. Butter looks like little pebbles in liquid. Turn off the mixer.
  1. Rinse and wring out several layers of clean cheesecloth, drape inside a china cap set in a cylindrical bain, and transfer the whole butter mixture into the cheesecloth. The whey will collect in the bain. Gather the cheesecloth into a bundle and twist a wooden spoon around and around and around until you have a tight orb like a hobo’s sack tied to a walking stick. Remove the china cap and set the wooden spoon across the mouth of the bain, letting the butter dangle – its whey dripping slowly into the bain. Set in the refrigerator for a full day and come back and twist occasionally to retighten the ball of butter/cheesecloth.

1 quart of cream yields 14 ounces butter.

If you are cleaning out the walk-in, it is your responsibility to constantly monitor the dates on the dairy. Health Department will not appreciate past-date dairy. It hardly happens here as we go through it so quickly and replenish so often, but when you find past-date cream that is still perfectly tasty, whip it up and make this butter. If you are on pastry prep and have left cream to whip in the Kitchen Aid and gotten distracted and left your cream too long, you can also recuperate the loss in this way. Anything past stiff peaks should be turned into butter by just continuing to whip it until it separates and becomes pebbly. Don’t throw your mistake away.

Don’t use this butter for anything but cooking or family meal – it is not special enough to be featured in any way. Its just a way of not throwing money and perfectly good product into the trash.



Mind of a Chef