Brown butter

Brown butter

By
From
Salted Caramel Dreams
Makes
approximately 225 g
Photographer
River Thompson

If caramelisation – the liquefying and darkening of sugar – is my favourite scientific reaction, Maillard is my second. It occurs when browning butter, giving it its distinctly nutty, toasty smell and flavour profile. The browning becomes noticeable once the water has evaporated at 100°C, which is when the temperature can increase further and the lactose in the milk solids starts to brown – ‘Maillardisation’. The technique in this recipe works for any amount and type of dairy butter; just ensure that you increase the pan size if you increase the quantity of butter. This recipe, as an example, makes the quantity of brown butter required for Caramel Apple Pie Blondies. Excess butter can be stored in an ice-cube tray in the freezer for up to two months.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
250g cold salted butter, cubed

Method

  1. Put the butter in a large, light-coloured, heavy-based saucepan. The light colour of the pan allows the browning to be clearly seen and the heavy base allows for even heat dispersion and cooking.
  2. Set the pan over a low-medium heat and allow the butter to gently melt, stirring from time to time.
  3. Once melted, the butter will begin to bubble and splatter dramatically. Swirl the pan or gently stir the butter during this stage to calm it and release the boiling bubbles.
  4. Once all the water has evaporated, the butter will begin to foam and the milk solids will begin to brown. Pay close attention and stir often to release the milk solids from the bottom of the pan as they can easily catch and burn. The milk solids will turn from pale gold to deep amber very quickly.
  5. I like to take the butter off the heat halfway through this transformation and allow the heat of the pan to continue the process. I find this is the easiest way to control the browning to my liking. Alternatively, leave the butter on the heat until ready, then immediately pour the browned butter into a heatproof bowl.
  6. Set the bowl over an ice bath and stir to chill the butter. Use immediately or pour into an ice-cube tray and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
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