For many recipes, margarine and butter can be used interchangeably or combined. When substituting margarine for all or part of the butter in baking, make sure the margarine contains at least 80 percent oil and don’t use light or whipped margarine. If you’re making puff pastry or pie crusts, it’s best to only use butter.
Savory Butter/Margarine Sauces
You can mix butter and margarine together with other ingredients to make sauces and spreads. The amount of each fat you use is not critical. For saucing grilled, baked or pan-fried salmon, saute together chopped shallots and finely chopped fresh ginger. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice and a splash of white wine. Let the ingredients simmer for several minutes before serving over the fish. A glaze made with a melted butter, margarine, chopped garlic, balsamic vinegar and any combination of chopped fresh herbs will liven up and meat, chicken or fish.
Pasta With Butter and Cheese
Almost everyone loves macaroni and cheese, and a quick version combines the hot, drained pasta with softened butter and margarine — any proportion of each will work — and grated Parmesan cheese. You can experiment with variations by using different types of cheese, such as fontina or cheddar. Folding other ingredients into the cheesy pasta can add color, flavor and texture. You might try pieces of fried bacon or pancetta, cooked bite-size chicken, a quick saute of halved cherry tomatoes or fresh chopped herbs such as basil or tarragon.
Sweet Butter/Margarine Spreads
Mixing butter and margarine with sweet ingredients creates tasty spreads that can be used in a variety of ways. You can combine the butter and margarine with any jam — strawberry, apricot and berry all work well and make colorful spreads. For a sweet and spicy spread, mash together the butter and margarine with brown sugar ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Powdered sugar can also be used as the sweetener and will produce a more frosting-like texture. Cocoa, sweet, semi-sweet or unsweetened is a delicious addition to the powdered sugar mixture. Use these spreads on toast, breakfast pastries such as croissants, pancakes and sugar cookies.
Basic sugar cookies are quick and easy to make, and you can use a combination of butter and margarine. A higher proportion of butter will give a richer flavor to your cookies, and using more butter than margarine will produce thinner, crisper cookies. If you prefer your cookies with more of a cakelike consistency, use a higher proportion of margarine. Because margarine has less flavor than butter, you can add other flavors, such as more vanilla extract, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice.