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Fairy Butter

Makes 1 cup

This simple dessert sauce makes a tasty accompaniment to gingerbread—either dotted onto the surface before serving or passed around at the table. The recipe here is adapted from one by Elizabeth Raffald in which she suggested letting the sauce “stand two or three hours” before rubbing it “through a cullendar upon a plate; it looks very pretty.”12 Maria Rundell included this recipe under the title Orange Butter in her 1808 cookbook, A New System of Domestic Cookery, noting that it pairs well with “sweet biscuits.”


  • 4 large hardboiled-egg yolks
  • 5 teaspoons orange-flower water
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons sugar (preferably superfine)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  1. Mash the egg yolks with the orange-flower water. Add the sugar, and mix to a smooth paste.
  2. Work in the butter until the mixture is smooth, and set aside in a cool place for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Press the butter through a strainer into a small serving bowl. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

This recipe is a modern adaptation of the 18th-century original. It was created by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons (2011).