Butter on it’s own needs no explanation why it’s awesome. It’s butter. Brown butter is like the super-cool sister or brother that shows up when you need a hand. It has a rich, nutty flavour and can be used in many of the same applications as butter. In the process of browning the butter, the milk solids are browned and moisture is evaporated, so it does change the structure of the butter. Using it in a buttercream frosting or a curd is not ideal because it will leave these feeling a little grainy in the mouth.
Browning butter is not a hard thing to conquer, you just need to know what you are looking for. You need to use your senses. Peel the paper off of your butter, and place in a pot that will leave room for expansion (be safe, it’s fat on a heat source, go tall), place over medium-low heat. After the butter is melted, it will start to separate the fat from the milk solids and moisture.
It will start to sounds like a deep fryer with popping noises and will have random bubbles coming to the surface. At this point I start carefully stirring (it spits), scraping the milk solids off of the bottom.
Some people want the milk solids stuck to the bottom so they can pour the butter off of them, I like the flavor they add to end products.
The surface of the butter will have a good bed of bubbles on it and a white scum that moves around with the bubbles.
After a few minutes it will start to actively foam. A few brown bits will surface.
Lots of little brown bits will start rising to the surface and the top will lok creamy. You will alos notice a ridge around the outside of the pot where the butter has reduced. Some people take it off around here, I like deeper flavor, so I actually keep it on to brown the fat as well.
The fat will look dark and the milk solids will be a few steps away from black. It will alomst resemble a light Guiness beer.
Let it cool until you can touch the sides of the pot and them our it into a container- check it by holding your hand an inch away from the surface of the fat to see how hot it is. If you can’t leave your hand there for any length of time, it’s too hot to handle. I had a co-worker once that immediately poured the butter into a plastic container and it melted the container and went everywhere. Don’t do that. It’s dangerous and it’s makes a mess that will make YOU angry and dangerous (at least that’s what happened then…).
You can leave the brown bits out or leave them in, it’s up to you. (Remember they are intensely toasted, adding too many may have too much flavour for certain recipes you are creating- a light cake or a mellow vegetable saute).
Use in baking or cooking.