It an easy thing, but sometimes it helps to see it, yes? If a recipe calls for, say, four tablespoons of clarified butter, I’ll start out with a little extra since I expect to lose some in the process. Here I have about 4 1/2 tablespoons of fresh, unsalted butter:
I heat it up until it begins to bubble gently…see the proteins collecting there on the top?
That right there is what a lot of cooks call clarified butter, and if I were adding this to a yellow cake, I’d stop. However since I happen to want a nice nutty brown butter taste this time, I’ll continue until some of the solids begin to sink and burn, and the rest turn golden brown.
I then strain the whole mess through a small sieve lined with cheese cloth…
..and there you have it: clarified (and in this case, browned) butter. Substitute a tablespoon or so of this for some solid butter the next time you make brioche…you won’t be disappointed.
UPDATE: Chef Mike writes in to say he uses a coffee filter to strain out the solids…a very good idea.
UPDATE: Nick from imafoodblog.com suggests a short stack of three slightly damp paper towels if you find yourself without cheese cloth.