Do you like butter? Great. Know what’s better? Browned Butter. It’s kind of like eating a room temp ham and cheese croissant. Really freaking good. Until you try that same sammy, warmed up. Bombs drop.
Essentially nothing more than caramelized butter, the bronzed version is a transformative pantry staple (or in this case, fridge or freezer staple). One of the best things about browned butter besides making everything (yep, just about) taste better, is that it can be kept in the freezer in large batches for later use. Nutty, caramelized flavors enrich everything from baked goods, to pastas, to ice creams, to cauliflower. Any dish can be made more complex by the bronzing of butter, so sneak this stuff in any recipe calling for regular butter.
The French (and pastry chefs) call it “beurre noisette,” which translates as hazelnut butter, named for its nutty aroma. Then there’s “beurre noir," French for “black butter.” Black butter is simply browned butter taken slightly further to the dark side via hits of acid. In these recipes, as soon as the milk solids turn a very dark brown, lemon juice or vinegar is carefully dropped into the hot butter. The result is a developed, nutty, and slightly bitter sauce.
Browned butter only tastes complicated and it’s perfectly easy to make. The only danger is overcooking. Basically, unsalted butter is cooked over low heat past its melting point until the milk solids begin to brown and the thing starts to smell like a toasted feast of symphonic nuttiness. Browning is essentially taking clarified butter one step further.
Make Some Browned Butter:
Melting: Melt unsalted butter in a saucepan set over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally until foaming and bubbles subside, and a smooth yellow liquid is left.
Stir and Brown: The milk solids will start separating from the liquid butter. The solids will turn golden in color and then gradually turn a darker brown, in about 3-5 more minutes. The butter should be nut-brown and have a toasty aroma. Overcooked butter will have a bitter taste (refer back to the buerre noir).
Watch It: Closely. Gorgeous brown can turn burnt black with one trip to the sink.
Cooling: Once the butter is browned, it should be transferred into a bowl immediately to prevent burning; allow to cool in the bowl.
Use That Browned Butter:
As mentioned above, the browned stuff can replace regular butter in pretty much any recipe for added depth.
In Sweet Things:
- Brown a large batch of butter and store in the freezer for all baking purposes. Make cookies: think snicker doodles and the best chocolate chip cookies youv’e ever made.
- Drizzle over vanilla ice cream and top with nuts of your choice. Or, make homemade brown butter ice cream.
- Sub browned butter for the reg in frosting recipes. Yes, even in cream cheese frosting. Trust us.
- If making homemade granola, again, replace the original with browned. All that nutty goodness gets amplified.
In Savory Things:
- Dot roasted tomatoes with browned butter, toss sautéed green beans and almonds with it, use it to roast butternut squash.
- Make brown butter breadcrumbs by adding in your panko after the butter has turned nut-brown.
- In butter sauces (for fish, pasta, or veggies), replace the regular butter with your browned butter.
- Definitely try the stuff in your next mashed potato recipe. People will ask what your secret is.