What the hell is "brown butter", you ask? It is joy. It is heaven. It is bliss. It is easy to make. More on that in just a bit. First I feel the need to share the inspiration for this recipe.
We hosted a guest chef the a couple of weeks ago. He was using brown butter for one of his dishes but he was only using the browned milk solids. So once we strained those out of the butter we had a lot of clarified brown butter left over. There was no way that I was going to waste this so I snagged some and thought, "I bet this would be good in some chocolate chip cookies." It turns out I was right. I was remembering a dish I had made about 15 years ago, a brown butter almond torte. What the heck?
So how does one make brown butter? It's very simple. You put a specified amount of butter in a pan and melt it.
Keeping the flame (or heat source) low you continue to cook the butter, stirring it occasionally so that the milk solids don't stick.
After about 3 minutes the butter will start to sputter and pop as the water content cooks out. Making brown butter is like having kids around; as long as they are making noise then you know that things are good. When they get quiet you need to wonder what they are up to. Likewise, when the butter stops making the splattering noises you need to start watching it closely. You are getting close to the browning point. The butter is done when it looks brown and has a rich, nutty, caramel-like smell to it. Be careful, though, as the path from brown to burned is very short.
Now that you have your brown butter you can just cool it and put it into a container. If you are going to make cookies with it then don't strain the milk solids out of it. Put it all in a container and use it like you would in any baking recipe. Don't sauté with it, though, because you will burn the butter.
Stay tuned for part two of the post.