What Is the Best Way To: Soften Butter?

We are so bad at remembering to set out butter to soften. Then we are standing there, ready to start making a cake or cookies, and oh — the butter's still rock hard. Oops. We often microwave the butter, but sometimes this backfires and melts the butter into a puddle of liquid. How do you soften butter for baking or cooking? Do you have any extra-special tricks for get this done faster?

Here are a few past tips and discussions on butter!

Tip: Make Butter By the Pound in a Stand Mixer
Salted Butter vs. Unsalted Butter: What's the Difference?
How To Make a Butter Lamb for Easter
4 Ways To Reuse Your Butter Wrappers!
Quick n' Easy: Ways to Soften Butter

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(Image: Faith Durand)