You may have seen lots of recipes on social media in the last couple of years using brown butter to flavour cookies and muffins and all sorts of other baked goods. I have been wondering what the broo-haha was about, so decided to do a little investigating of my own (read, any excuse to bake).
What is Brown Butter?
Brown butter is not a new technique. In fact, it is a French technique, known as buerre noisette, and has been used in savoury dishes to enrich the flavour for many many years.
There is a little bit of science behind it: slowly heating butter over a medium heat until it turns brown separates the butterfat from the milk solids. The milk solids are the little brown bits you see floating in the butterfat. The name buerre noisette, buerre is French for butter, and noisette for hazelnut, refers to the colour of the butter after this process.
Brown butter adds a smoky richness and depth of flavor to both savory and sweet foods and is easy to recreate at home.
If you follow a plant-based diet, you would think that brown butter might be out of the question, seeing as vegan butter doesn't contain milk; however, you can replicate the flavor and the process, in the same way, using vegan butter.
What Vegan Butter do I use?
I have used Flora Plant-Based, unsalted, however, use any good quality vegan butter. Do not use margarine or spread, as you won't have the same results due to additional stabilizers in the product. As a rule of thumb, the better quality the vegan butter, the better the results.
How do I use Brown Butter in Baking?
Simply replace the butter element of your recipe with cooled brown butter. For example, most cookie recipes start with creaming butter and sugar together. In this case, simply cream sugar with the browned butter instead.
I wouldn't recommend using it in a recipe that requires cold ingredients, i.e pastry, as it just won't work.
How do I make Vegan Brown Butter?
- It's easy. Add the amount of butter that your recipe requires to a metal bottomed pan (i.e. not a coated pan) and turn the heat to medium.
- Let the butter slowly melt, and then it will start to crackle and pop. This the solids separating from the liquids.
- Gently swirl the pan to avoid any sticking, but do not stir.
- Leave for a couple of minutes until the butter has turned a rich dark colour. Do not let burn!
- Transfer to a small bowl and let cool before using.