Anyone who has ever made a batch of cookies knows that the recipe usually calls for softened butter. But what does that mean and does the temperature really make a difference? Softened butter is when butter has gradually warmed to room temperature, around 70 degrees. When the butter has warmed correctly it will be soft and easy to press a finger into but won't have any pools of melted, liquid butter. Using your Butter Bay to store your butter will always keep it at the perfect room temperature so you won't have to wait for it to warm before you bake.
The theory behind softened butter is pretty simple. When it is combined with the other ingredients in the mixer you are creaming it instead of just blending or combining it. When you cream butter it allows for small air pockets to be formed within the dough. This helps keep your cookies fluffy and cook evenly. The fat in the butter is also more solid than if it were melted which helps the dough hold it’s shape and it won't flatten as quickly when placed on your cookie sheet. Both of these factors help to make a perfectly textured cookie.
When you use softened butter your cookies will be perfectly fluffy and a consistent round shape. Assuming you have a good cookie recipe your cookies will also be soft and chewy and won’t be greasy since the fat didn’t separate before the butter was mixed in. If you use butter that has been microwaved or melted it will lead to oils being deposited on top of the cookie making them greasy to the touch. They are also likely to be misshapen and have an underdone middle because they aren’t able to cook through as constantly without the air bubbles created by creaming.
Room temperature butter is a key element to cookies that many people overlook. If you want to ensure you have the perfect cookie every time try soft butter and see how much of a difference it makes for yourself!
Bonus Tip: Chill your dough overnight in the fridge to re-harden the butter before cooking. This will give you even fluffier cookies!