From The Spalenka Files — a blog largely dedicated to science, history, engineering and other things I generally shy away from because I can't slather them in butter — the greatest softening trick since that time you microwaved a pat of cold butter and ended up with half a pat of cold butter sitting in a pool of melted butter. Stop having butter problems and break out the toothpicks.
Elevating the pat on a tripod made of toothpicks allows heat to penetrate from all sides, resulting in even softening. Microwave it (just for a few seconds) and it will slowly slide down the toothpicks. It's perfectly soft by the time it reaches the plate.
While it's no genius Japanese butter grater (which I absolutely still want, by the way), this simple technique gets the job done so no toast is forced out into the world un-slathered.
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