― W.C. Fields
I’ve become a faithful follower of the brown butter bandwagon. As you would expect the French with their unerring ability to indentify simple, beautiful, indulgent things are founding members of this fan club going ahead and giving it a fancy name Buerre Noisette as they tend to. And when you find a good thing why limit yourself? Buerre Noisette is applied to both sweet and savoury productions in French cooking – from pastry to pastas.
For all this fanciness there isn’t really much to the exercise. Instead of chucking butter into the microwave to soften as you might ordinarily, all you do differently is pop it on to a stove top on a low flame. The butter will foam and start to separate because the heat is splitting the butter into its component parts of milk solids and fat. In a couple of minutes you’ll see brown flecks start to sediment at the bottom of the pan. The milk solids are burning faster than the fat and getting toasted brown. The butter will go from golden yellow to golden tan to finally a nutty delicious smelling brown which is the basis of the name Buerre Noisette, literally translating to hazelnut butter, a reference to the flavour and colour of the sauce.
The only real hitch is you could burn the butter but if you keep the flame low and a hawk eye on your pan you should be fine. Don’t get distracted by the amazing nutty aroma filling your kitchen making you lightheaded, once the butter has nicely browned take the pan off the stove and continue with your recipe. A lot of people seem to prefer using unsalted butter for this but it’s really painful for me to hunt down unsalted butter and I just use the salted stuff for everything and I can’t say I’ve had any trouble with it.
The magic of brown butter is its distinct, deeper flavour – use it instead of ordinary butter in other recipes also to kick up the flavour.
|This is my hideous muffin tray but it’s been around for years and does its job well so I won’t apologize for its derelict state.|
Adapted from Joy the BakerWhat you’ll need:
For the muffin
2 ¼ cups flour
1 ¾ cup butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp coffee powder mixed in with 3 tbsp hot water
For the topping
3 tbsp butter (cold)
½ cup flour
3 ½ tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Butter up your muffin tray or line with cupcake liners and set aside.
2. Melt the butter for the muffins in a pan on a not very high flame. It’ll first melt and then slowly start to brown (at which point it is going to start smelling amazing!). Let the butter brown till you see little brown bits in your pan and then remove from heat.
Foodnote: Keep an eye on your pan to make sure the butter doesn’t burn!
3. In a bowl whisk together milk, eggs and vanilla. Add the (slightly cooled but still liquid) butter and whisk some more. Add the milk.
4. In another bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix the egg mixture and whisk well.
5. Divide half the batter in the muffin slots. Stir the coffee mix into the remaining batter. Now divide the rest of the batter between the muffin cups.
6. For the topping mix together all the ingredients with your fingers till it’s nice crumbly. Top your muffins with this.
7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (just start checking on the muffins from 15 minutes up). Cool them before serving.
Foodnote: These are muffins not cupcakes so serve warm – you can even split them and serve with a pat of butter and a cup of coffee.