Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Browned Butter (and cookies to make with it)

My lovely mixer in action.  

In the few weeks since camp I have been making rather regular and kind of ho-hum dinners.  Nothing to write home, or here, about.   However, I did discover extraordinary chocolate chip cookies.  What makes these cookies so extraordinary?  Three things...bread flour, sea salt, and browned butter.  What is bread flour?  I wasn't sure but when I looked it up I discovered it has more gluten than all-purpose flour.  More gluten = chewier.  Chewier cookies are a plus in my book.  Sea salt, I know and love, especially with chocolate.  But I had never browned butter before.  I thought I had done so before when I was trying to make a browned butter and sage sauce for pumpkin ravioli last fall.  Apparently I was wrong.  I had only made melted butter and sage sauce I guess.

I followed some directions I found but I still was not sure if I was doing it correctly until Ta-Da! browned butter it was!  A few people have asked me about the process so I decided to take some pictures the next time.  Sure, you can find plenty of recipes and blogs that give you browned butter tutorials, but since you are reading this blog, you can find it here, too!  See?  I aim to please.

This is the link to the recipe I used to bake the cookies.  They are quite delicious as is, but I think next time I will use dark brown sugar versus light brown, just to see.  According to Alton Brown, the darker the sugar, the chewier the cookie.  There are actually TONS of recipes out there in blog land for sea salt browned butter cookies.  I kind of randomly found this one after not being able to re-find the original recipe I had planned to use.  Plus, I had all the ingredients, so, you know, that's a bonus.

I have made the cookies several times now.  I really like the dark brown sugar because of the depth of flavor it gives, plus they get nice and chewy.  The first few times I made them they got pretty crispy.  They were delicious but not chewy.  So I had to play around with the time and really look at them a few times until I figured out what worked to make them chewy and still a little crispy on the outside.  I found that when they look almost done....like they still might be almost runny on the inside...I pull them out.  I let them sit on the cookie sheet on the top of the stove for a few minutes, until set.  If you try to move them now they will fall apart.  Then let them cool on a cooling rack.  To me, these are perfect with a cup of coffee.  Enjoy!
You can see the few sprinkles of coarse sea salt.

Up close and personal

Here we go...
For some reason it is sideways, but for this recipe use unsalted butter.

Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces for more even melting and put into a small pot over medium heat.

Whisk it occasionally.  

It gets nice and frothy and still smells buttery.

Then it boils.  Like serious boiling!!!

At this point I was wondering when this so-called browning would occur.  Had I missed it?  This had been on the stove for almost 10 minutes already!  Eventually, it keeps boiling, you keep whisking once in a while, and around then you start to smell the MOST amazing nutty smell.  At the same time you will see brown bits at the bottom of the pot.  That's how you know it's now browned butter.  I was going to let it go a little further to see how brown I could take it, but I was afraid to burn it and I needed this butter to make the cookies!  

Do not be afraid of the browned butter.  I want to use it in everything now because it gives such a depth of flavor to whatever you are putting it in.  I would love if you make it, if you would come back here and leave me a comment to let me know!

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