Butter, butter, butter, Buttah, baby
Choosing the best butter for the best use.
First, and most importantly, never, I mean NEVER, use salted butter for baking.
You may see recipes, especially in older cookbooks, that say "salted" but, I'm telling you now, you will be sorry. Salt, like in savory cooking, is to enhance flavor, extract flavor, not overpower it. So it is especially true in baking. You want to control the amount of salt that goes into desserts, using UNsalted butter allows you to do so.
Most baking recipes call for 1/8 - 1/2 tsp. of salt. If you're using salted butter, you have no idea how much salt is in one brand to another, safer (and more successful) to use unsalted.
Remember butter should always be room temperature, malleable, not melted for baking. Freezer cold for pies/pastry. Buttercream? Unsalted too. You get the idea.
If you're a true butter aficionado - European butter can't be beat. It's creamier, richer, slightly more golden hue, and just delicious. Beyond the KerryGold Butter that we now see in virtually every supermarket, higher end supermarkets will carry French & Other Imported butters that are definitely worth a try. I even found a New Zealand imported butter from Costco, and it's divine. These artisan butters are usually meant for table service, to pair with crusty bread. I wouldn't use these expensive butters - some are also available unsalted- for everyday baking. Too expensive and there are plenty of domestic brands that will do the trick, perfectly fine. Salted butter for table service is preferred.
Very popular now are butter boards. Here's where you want to splurge on that imported fine butter. I recommend a salted version for this. Use artisan bread, radishes, preserves, hot honey, traditional honey to enhance flavor. Think exotic, outside the box too, like persimmons, cornichons, caperberries to add to these boards.
As with any product, typically, the more inexpensive an item is, the lesser in quality. If Organic is important to you, these also come in salted and unsalted versions. Same thoughts apply to them, however as far as taste, honestly, I haven't found too much of a difference between domestic organic and non organic brands. Just your preference on what you want to consume. I will caution that some butter brands (Trader Joes, sorry guy) say unsalted, but don't taste like it.
When sauteing and making compound sauces for a dish,like steak au poivre, quality Unsalted butter is a must. Remember, here, butter should be cold, and not room temp, as you want it to emulsify smoothly into the sauce you are making so as not to break. Again, you want to control the amount of salt going into the dish, salted butter could over salt the dish, and that would be sad!
With so many butter options available to us now, there's no reason not to just go out and try them. Bon Appetit!