Put it in a pan and heat it until nut brown, which is where the term beurre noisette comes from – it means “hazelnut butter” in French, referring to both the flavour and colour of this golden elixir. Use it to anoint pasta, serve it with prawns – the sweet, slightly caramel flavour takes almost anything from pretty good to utterly exceptional.
Before we begin: top tips to making brown butter
1. It’s best to use a light-coloured pan so you can see the butter change colour.
2. Make as much or as little brown butter as you like, it’ll keep for a few days in the fridge. Alternatively, freeze it in an ice tray to use when the craving calls.
3. Don’t be scared of the sediment (the browned milk solids) in the bottom of the pan – that’s where the flavour is. Some people prefer to strain the butter to get rid of it, but it adds a delicious caramel dimension.
How to make brown butter
Follow these easy steps and you’re on your way to buttery nirvana
Step 1: Melt the butter over a medium-low heat, swirling the pan occasionally.
Step 2: White foam will start appearing on the surface, these are the milk solids that will later sink to the bottom of the pan.
Step 3: The butter will start to bubble and splutter as the water evaporates.
Step 4: The butter will start turning brown and smelling aromatic. Keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn as this happens very quickly. Give it a stir to prevent the milk solids from sticking to the pan, and to check the colour. Once the milk solids are dark golden, remove the pan from the heat and pour into a heat-resistant bowl. Bear in mind that it will continue cooking in the pan once you’ve removed it from the heat. If you like, squeeze in a little lemon juice to stop it from browning further – this is especially good with fish.
You don’t need to go all the way every time, the different stages of “brownness” pair well with different things
Golden-brown butter (see step 2): When you start seeing the milk solids appear, remove the pan from the heat and use the butter in a vinaigrette or with a vegetable dish such as roasted carrots.
Really dark brown butter: It may look burnt, but this ultra-dark stage is perfect for chilling, and then using in baking. It’ll add a dark caramel note to apple pie or blondies – the brownie’s paler cousin.
How to use brown butter
Happily, brown butter shines in both sweet and savoury dishes. Use these ideas to add extra oomph to almost anything… You can thank us later
– Use it instead of ordinary melted butter in cakes or biscuits to add extra richness.
– Make like the hipsters and drizzle it over oats to make a savoury porridge. Sprinkle over some toasted pine nuts for crunch.
– Cook a steak until almost done to your liking, then add 3 T butter, 2 sprigs rosemary and 2 crushed garlic cloves and cook until the butter is nutty, basting the steak as you go. Don’t walk away, this needs your undivided attention to prevent the butter from burning and the steak from being overcooked. Once the steak is done and resting, emulsify the pan juices and remaining butter to form the perfect sauce.
– Add vanilla seeds and use it to cook fish.
– Drizzle it over pasta or gnocchi and serve with crisp, fried sage leaves.
– Add it to scrambled eggs just before they’re done.
– Fry onion rings in it. Or drizzle it over roasted cauliflower.
– Drizzle it over home-made granola before toasting, make a streusel topping or crumb, or use it in a tart base.