Do you know browned butter yet?
If not, might I introduce you?
Browned butter takes butter to a whole new level…think nutty, toasty and buttery – those are all very good qualities in a food, don’t you think?
One of my favorite things is to make chocolate chip cookies with browned butter – and I also know of a fabulous recipe for Browned Butter Cookie Dough Truffles, which, by the way, are DELICIOUS.
PSA: If you’re going to make egg-less cookie dough for eating “raw”, please take the step of baking your raw flour. Yes, I said bake your flour. There have been recent outbreaks of e.Coli that have been linked to eating raw flour, and isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? Just take your flour and put it in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. It will also have a nice toast to it, and it will be safer to eat.
Well, with the knowledge of what browned butter makes better (everything), I decided I wanted to see what happened when I browned the butter for swiss meringue buttercream. Seemed like an easy enough process… I’d just brown the butter and go forward as always.
First the butter – 1 lb of yellow goodness
Now, when you’re browning butter, you want to brown it to an amber color – not a black color. There is such a thing as beurre noir (black butter) but that’s not what we’re going for here. We needed to get a golden color on the butter liquids and a deep brown on the solids that would come out of the butter and stick to the bottom of the pan. Kind of what is happening here:
You can see here that the liquid is a nice golden amber color and the bits stuck to the pan are a dark brown (not black!). You want to cook the butter over medium heat and swirl it occasionally to get to this color. I dumped out the liquid into a bowl to stop the cooking and allow it to cool. I sped it up by putting it into the fridge until it solidified.
If you’re familiar with making swiss meringue buttercream, you know that you ideally want your butter to be at room temperature but not droopy or melty. I figured if this butter was hard enough to scoop with a spatula, it would be good enough to use, so I went ahead with my usual method (you can read about how to make the recipe below).
So, how did it go?
Well, to my surprise, the buttercream did NOT come together like my SMBC (yes, nice acronym in place of the whole buttercream name) – while the butter did emulsify into the meringue, it was soupy and despite continuing to beat it, it was still very, very soft.
What I realized (because, science) is that losing the milk solids that were left behind in my saucepan during the browning process likely had an effect on how the butter and meringue would emulsify together and make a good solid frosting. To help replace some of that lost milk solid, I added another 2 sticks of whole butter, but it still was a loose buttercream. I knew I didn’t want to add any more butter, because that’s just not my taste. So – I waited. I let the buttercream sit for about 8 hours at room temperature, and voila – it was the perfect consistency. In the future, I will allow my melted butter to harden up for longer, and also not expect to use it right away, like I might usually operate.
How did it taste?
Oh, and I also added in some egg-less cookie dough to the frosting to make a chocolate chip cookie filling for a cake, and let me tell you how amazing THAT was. Well, you’ll just have to trust me.
I hope you’ll give this recipe a try and let me know how it goes.