The Brown Butter Advantage

One nifty little brioche trick I picked up a few years ago involves adding a small amount of brown butter to the dough. The roasty, nutty character it brings to the finished product is subtle but worth it. And anyway it’s more butter, so how can you go wrong? Just add an ounce or so to the recipe as written and you’re set. And don’t fear the little brown flecks.

Oh, and if you don’t know how to make brown butter, simply put an ounce of butter, which is two tablespoons, in a small saucepan and heat it over medium-high heat. As the butter melts, the milk solids will collect on the top as a white film. If you stop now and skim off the foam you’ll have clarified butter (otherwise known as ghee). Let the butter heat until those milk solids start to clump up, turn brown, and sink to the bottom of the pan. You’ll detect a distinct nut-like aroma. Now turn off the heat — you’ve just made brown butter! Let it cool for 10 minutes, strain it through a fine seive or cheesecloth (you won’t get all the little flecks out), and you’re done. In larger quantities this stuff makes a great simple sauce for pasta (especially stuffed pastas like ravioli), vegetables and fish.

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