For a while now I've seen recipes floating around that require the use of browned butter. I've been a bit afraid to try one of these recipes because I didn't know how to brown butter. I decided to try it this weekend and I'm so happy I did. I had no idea what browned butter was until now.
To my surprise, I got it right on the first try. I was also amazed at the concept of browned butter. The recipes I had seen talked about the great aroma and taste of browned butter. I had assumed it was something similar to the concept of toasting nuts before putting them in baked goods. However, it is so much more. Butter is completely transformed after it is browned.
The smell is incredible. It has a nutty caramel smell. I find it amazing how butter completely changes when it is browned and I wonder who discovered it. It adds a taste similar to its smell in your baked goods. After figuring out how to brown butter, I was excited to try out some browned butter recipes. I chose Food Gal's brown butter buttons. The simplicity of the ingredients really allow the browned butter taste to shine through.
The cookies were different than how I thought. When making them, the texture was very crumbly. I thought the cookies would be similar to Russian Tea Cakes. They were similar in taste. The cookies have a nutty flavor despite there not being any nuts. The taste comes from the browned butter. The cookies also have little flecks of brown from the butter. However, the cookies had a very hard, crispy texture, which is different from russian tea cakes, which are soft and melt in your mouth.
I explained my experience with the process of browning butter in the recipe directions below.
Brown butter buttons (recipe found on Food Gal)
- 8 ounces (2 sticks/225 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 cups (9 ounces/255 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (7 ounces/200 grams) granulated sugar
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy 1
1/2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat and heat just until it begins
to turn a delicate brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and
pour into a medium bowl. Be careful to watch the butter and turn off the heat when it turns brown, or else you will burn it. When you heat the butter, it will boil and bubble and stay a bright yellow for a long time. At some point, it stop bubbling loudly and instead takes on a frothy texture. You can hear the sound difference in the cooking too. It is at this point that the you'll see the liquid begin to brown. As soon as you see most of the liquid turn brown, turn off the stove.
This is a picture of it frothy and turning brown. I turned off the stove at this point:
When it cools, the froth dissipates and you can see that the whole melted butter liquid is a deep brown:
the butter aside to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, sift
together the flour and baking soda onto a piece of waxed paper; set
4. Add the vanilla to the butter, and then stir in half of
the sugar, blending well before adding the remaining sugar. Add the
flour mixture in two additions, blending well after each addition. Set
the mixture aside for 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the
5. To shape each cookie, measure about 1 1/2
teaspoons of the dough, or scoop up the dough with an ice cream scoop
about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. The dough will be very crumbly. Mash it between your palms to form balls, and place on the prepared baking
sheet, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.
6. Bake the cookies
until they puff up, crack a bit on top, and are golden on the bottom,
15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the
cookies cool on the pan for about 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula,
transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yield: about 3 1/2 dozen cookies