If you have never browned butter, it’s time.
I don’t know the whole science behind browned butter, and you aren’t going to hear about milkfat and clarified butter* from me (* I am pretty sure those terms are related to browned butter). Just a lot of step-by-step photos showing you How to Brown Butter, and untold praise of this magic sauce.
This photo is JUST BUTTER:
You might see “brown butter” or “browned butter” sauces on menus, for example with gnocchi. Maybe you even order it and have no idea what it means or how it’s different from regular butter, but you know you love it. In baked goods, it adds a “what is in this???” quality. In a good way, of course. The best of ways.
Let’s do some learning here on this sunny Sunday.
To make brown butter, all you need to do is put your butter in a pot and heat it until it cooks. Yep! I usually am a little lazy and throw the whole stick in, but if you chop your butter into smaller pieces, it will go a little faster. The whole process takes about 5 minutes, and I recommend using medium-high heat.
The butter will go through a few phases. Make sure you stir, scraping the bottom of the pot using a silicone spatula, very often, especially when your butter is completely liquified. The little brown bits will stick and burn unless you keep them moving.
So first, the butter will melt and get cloudy.
And then it will get foamy.
And then it will form large bubbles – we shall call this “bubbly” – it will almost look like a very small, buttery bubble bath.
Those bubbles will get frothy. Don’t forget to keep scraping the bottom!
And then, something magical will happen. Your kitchen will start to smell like butterscotch. I can’t explain it, I can only share it. When you get that smell, or you start to see brown flecks, TUNE IN. Keep stirring as the butter cooks! You are almost there.
When it looks like the below photo, with dark brown flecks throughout – or, flecky – you are done. If you cook it for too long, those dark brown flecks will turn a very very dark brown – black, some might say – and you will miss that magical window of smooth, rich brown butter.
p.s. I thought I made up the word “flecky” but I looked it up and it is an actual word, the adjective form of fleck, meaning – wait for it – full of flecks.
Although brown butter is delicious in baked goods, I would not recommend just subbing it in for regular butter one-for-one. Because it’s liquid, it will mess with cooking times and spreading. Recipes that specify to use brown butter will have the ingredients adjusted appropriately. Give it a whirl!
Here are a few recipes from My Utensil Crock using brown butter:
More to come! I do tend to save butter for baking, and my main dishes tend toward the healthier side, but maybe I will muster up a brown butter gnocchi dish so you can see it. I am so selfless. 😉