Michelle Darmody: Brown butter or beurre noisette in baking

Michelle Darmody.

Brown butter is generally associated with a very traditional French style of cooking. It is better known in France as beurre noisette and is mainly used in savoury sauces for fish or chicken, but now it is having a moment in baking. It adds an additional richness to recipes and a lovely golden colour, and it works particularly well in icings such as buttercream.

To make a beurre noisette buttercream cool the browned butter down after it is made, so that it re-solidifies, and whip it with your icing sugar.

Brown butter can be made by simply whisking and heating butter in a pan until the butterfat turns a deep amber brown. Place cubes of butter into a small, heavy based, saucepan over medium heat. Begin whisking it immediately.

As it begins to melt and bubble you should see little brown pieces appear on the bottom of the saucepan. When this happens remove it from heat and continue to whisk for another thirty seconds. When using your brown butter make sure to include these little bits, as they contain the nuttiest and deepest taste.

While you are heating the butter the liquid content is reducing and you are turning it to one hundred percent fat, this is what contributes to the very rich and nutty taste.

As the liquid content is lowered it is not simply a matter substituting brown for normal butter, if you are making a substitution you will need to add a little more liquid to your recipe. You can get better results with unsalted butter rather than our more typical Irish, salted butter.

Brown Butter and Roasted Hazelnut Cookies

225g of unsalted butter, cut into cubes

350g of dark brown sugar

60g of caster sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

280g of plain flour

1 tsp of baking powder, sieved

2 tbs of porridge oats

A handful of hazelnuts, roasted and very roughly chopped

Brown the butter as instructed on left and whisk in the sugars thoroughly. Whisk for about a minute then slowly add in the eggs.

Whisk in the flour and baking powder. Stir in the porridge oats and nuts and place the batter in the fridge until cool.

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees and line two baking trays with parchment.

Spoon blobs of the dough onto the baking tray, use a large soupspoon of dough for each cookie, they will spread as the bake so leave some room around each one.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Allow them to cool for a few minutes on the tray then place them on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Brown Butter and Cocoa Powder Crackles

350g of unsalted butter, cubed

120g of dark brown sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

The zest of an orange

360g of plain flour

1½ tsp of baking powder, sieved

1 tbsp of cocoa powder

Icing sugar for dusting

Brown the butter as instructed on left and pour it into a bowl and then place the bowl into the fridge until it has re-solidified.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line two baking trays with parchment.

Scoop the solid brown butter into a large baking bowl and add the brown sugar. Whisk until it is becoming pale and lighter. Slowing add the eggs and zest, if the mixture begins to curdle add a spoon of the flour.

Add in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and stir until completely combined. Scoop around the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure everything is combined. Place the mixture back into the fridge to firm it up so that you can roll balls of the dough between your palms.

Roll each ball in the icing sugar and place onto the baking tray. They will spread slightly as they bake.

Bake for about ten minutes until they are crackling on top. Allow to cool on the tray.

Brown Butter Madeleines

110g of unsalted butter, cubed and extra for buttering the tin

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbsp of honey

100g of golden caster sugar

100g of self raising flour, sieved

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and lightly butter and then flour a madeleine tin. Brown the butter as instructed opposite and set it aside.

Beat the eggs with the honey and sugar until completely combined. Sieve in the flour and again combine it completely then add the butter until it too is combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for about ten minutes until golden. Once cool enough to handle place onto a wire rack and bake another batch. Dust with icing sugar if you wish

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