Brown butter is a simple yet impressive magic trick that adds a delicious sophistication to baked goods. The one-ingredient wonder introduces a delicate nutty, caramel-like depth of flavour and a beautiful golden hue, making your sweet treats more complex and indulgent.
Although brown butter may sound like a fancy pastry school technique, there’s really not much to it. With no demand for extra ingredients, cost or fancy equipment, all it requires to make is a pot, a few minutes of your time and, of course, butter.
What is brown butter?
Brown butter is made by gently melting and cooking butter over the stovetop until the milk solids separate, sink and turn a golden colour. This process transforms the butter into a rich golden liquid with a toasted flavour and intoxicating nutty aroma (which is why it’s also aptly known as ‘beurre noisette’, or ‘hazelnut butter’ in French).
How to make brown butter
MELT: Place your cubed butter in a small saucepan and gently melt it over medium-low heat. Use a lightly-coloured pot if you have one, as it will help you monitor the transformative colour change of the butter.
COOK: Continue to cook the butter over medium-low heat, stirring often with a rubber spatula. During this time, the butter will go through a few different stages as the milk solids transform. First, the melted butter will bubble and splutter as water evaporates, and will start to look murky. After a few minutes, the milk solids will separate from the mixture and sink to the bottom of the pot, making the butter clear (this is how clarified butter, or ghee, is made). As the butter is cooked further, it will start to foam. Keep stirring it gently to keep the foam down and make sure to keep a watchful eye on the liquid butter below – this is the point when the milk solids will start to caramelise.
TOAST: You’ll know your butter is ready when you’re left with a rich golden liquid flecked with lightly browned toasted bits, and your kitchen is filled with a delicious nutty aroma. At this point, remove the pot from the heat. Be careful not to overcook the butter as burnt milk solids can impart a bitter flavour in your bakes.
ICE: The milk solids will continue to darken from the residual heat, so carefully drop a small ice cube into the pot to stop the cooking process (be careful, as it will splutter). This also replaces some of the water that evaporated from the butter during cooking, which is essential to generate steam needed for optimal texture and rise during baking.
How to use brown butter in baking
So you’ve just made a batch of brown butter…now what?
Brown butter can be used in place of melted butter and oil in MiniMakes cakes, brownies, blondies and chewy cookies. For example, instead of melting 80g butter for a classic MiniMakes vanilla cake, go one step further and brown it, then follow the recipe as is. Be sure to let brown butter cool slightly before using and to scrape out all the toasted bits from the base of the pot – this is where all the flavour lies!
It can also be chilled in the fridge until it becomes solid. After a quick re-whip with a hand mixer, solid brown butter is delicious slathered on banana bread or muffins. It can also be creamed to make MiniMakes snap cookies, frostings and buttercreams.
For a quick time-saving hack, prepare a large batch of brown butter on a lazy Sunday and store it in a jar in the fridge. You can use it in its solid form, or quickly melt it in the microwave to use as a liquid. This way, you’ll always have it on-hand for whenever you may need it!
Put it into practice
Incorporating brown butter into your MiniMakes baking adventures will unlock a world of rich, sophisticated flavours. Experiment with this delectable ingredient and discover the depth it can bring to your favourite MiniMakes recipes. Give it a go with these delicious Brown Butter Milk Chocolate Chunk Blondies or Brown Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies.