Boy, do I love brown butter. I think we all do, really. When you see brown butter on the menu, you see luxury. You don’t even need to know what it tastes like; you just know that the chef in question decided to take the time to make plain ol’ butter into special butter, bringing the butter’s milk solids to a beautiful, toasty amber. Brown butter is the butter that tried a little bit harder because, baby, you’re worth it.
My biggest problem with brown butter? It’s never enough. On its own it has such a bombastically nutty flavor, but when used in a recipe—unless you use far more butter than any human should consume in one sitting—the flavor gets washed out. I’ve been lured in with the promise of brown butter on far too many menu items, only to be tragically let down with a dish laden with grease that imparted barely a whiff of toasted elegance.
As a chef and baker, I faced this problem over and over again. There were so many things I’d make that I thought could use a bit more beurre noisette, like deeply roasted vegetables, minimalist pasta dishes, and rich fluffy buttercreams. I needed more toasted milk solids, less milk fat. Then I realized that I actually solve this problem very easily, and felt like a total idiot for not figuring this out earlier: I could throw some powdered milk in with the butter as I was browning it.
At first I would just add half a teaspoon or so to give whatever I was making a bit of a boost, but eventually I started keeping a full jar of toasted milk solids in the fridge to use like a condiment. I’ve found dozens of ways to use them, and they improve the dish every time.
Here are just a few different uses I’ve found so far:
- Toss a quarter cup of solids onto a try of hot roasted carrots
- Mix in with roasted butternut squash
- Stir a few tablespoons into pancake batter
- Sprinkle it on pasta with some Locatelli and fried cauliflower
- Whip some into whipped cream
- Bake a batch of toasted brown butter nut shortbread
- Use as the secret ingredient in my life-changing cinnamon roll recipe
Try making the recipe for brown butter solids below, and see what you create with them.
- 1 stick salted butter
- 3/4 cup dry powdered milk
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, then add milk powder. Using a sturdy wooden spatula or spoon, stir well until everything comes together. Continue stirring while using the tip of the spatula to break apart all the clumps until the mixture is the consistency of coarse sand and has just begun to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and immediately pour onto a plate to cool, then put into a jar or pint container.
Store in the fridge until ready to use. If you’re not just throwing a cold spoonful into something you’re cooking, it’s best to warm up the solids just a bit to make them easier to sprinkle or spread. Either leave them out at room temperature, or put in a small howl and microwave in ten-second increments.
Then try making these brown butter cinnamon rolls, because they’ll change your life.