Brown butter is a secret ingredient that turns up the flavor in any dessert. It creates a delicious nutty and caramelized flavor that can turn a basic cookie recipe into something gourmet. And after using it just once, you’ll never go back to regular butter! In this post I’ll be teaching you how to brown butter in order to elevate your baking.
What is brown butter?
It’s the most simple but impactful thing you can make because it only requires one ingredient…butter! Transforming basic butter into brown butter is a very quick process but releases so much flavor.
Brown butter is essentially toasted butter. Butter is melted over a burner to release the milk solids. These then sink to the bottom and toast or “brown” to create a nutty aroma and rich flavor.
How to make brown butter
Browning butter is very easy and requires a shallow saucepan, a whisk, and a burner. The entire process consists of 4 main phases:
Phase 1: Melting – This is the easiest step and is very self explanatory. In a shallow saucepan or skillet over medium heat, melt down the butter.
Phase 2: Bubbling – This the longest step and requires you to whisk occasionally. After the butter is melted, it will start to bubble and turn almost translucent. You’ll notice the butter will change colors from a soft yellow to a bright yellow/orange hue.
Phase 3: Foaming – The bubbles will begin to multiply and turn into a fine foam. It will be difficult to see what’s underneath so you will need to whisk consistently at this point. Once the foam forms, the browning happens VERY quickly so don’t step away from the pot!
Phase 4: Browning – As you’re whisking, you’ll notice the butter transitioning into a rich golden color. And as the butter moves around, you’ll start to see the milk solids sitting on the bottom of the pot. Once those start to darken into a light brown, remove the pot from the burner and keep whisking. The residual heat will continue to toast the milk solids to create a really rich amber color…exactly what we’re looking for!
How long does it take to brown butter?
This all depends on the type of pot you use. If you use a small but deep pot, the process may take 15-20 minutes. If you use a shallow pot or skillet, it can take around 10 minutes. The more spread out the butter is, the faster it browns.
The evaporating effect
It’s important to know that the amount of butter you start out with will not but what you end up with. During the process of browning, much of the water evaporates from the butter. So if you start out with 1 cup of butter, you’ll be left with just a hair over 3/4 cup of butter. You’ll lose a couple tablespoons in the process.
THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP
After the butter is browned, pour it into a glass container to cool. You’ll notice a pool of dark bits at the bottom of the pot. Don’t leave those behind! Those little specks hold all the flavor.
How to use brown butter in recipes
The best part about brown butter is that it can be treated just like regular butter! If a recipe calls for melted butter, use melted brown butter. If it calls for room temperature butter, allow the brown butter to chill in the fridge in order to solidify.
Just make sure to bake with brown butter when it’s NOT piping hot. This can affect the sugar and other ingredients in a recipe, causing them to melt or dissolve too quickly.
Another good rule of thumb is to start out with 1-2 more tablespoons of butter per half cup than what your recipe calls for. This will account for the evaporation effect I mentioned prior. But always make sure to measure the exact amount of butter needed in a measuring glass before adding to a recipe.
If you find that you came up short when measuring the brown butter, add a little bit of water to make up for the loss.
Recipes to make with brown butter
- Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Brown Butter Oatmeal Cookies
- Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls
- Toffee Crunch Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
- Brown Butter Vanilla Cupcakes
- Gingerbread Cookies with Brown Buttercream
- Spice Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting