Brown Butter Butter – A Delicious Science Experiment!
The title of this post is accurate, it’s not a typo. Beurre noisette is the French term for brown butter. It’s typically a sauce in which whole butter is melted until the milk solids separate (from the butter fat), caramelize and brown. It’s incredibly rich and delicious, and the aroma and flavor resemble that of a toasted hazelnut.
In this case, I wanted to brown the cream in a CVap prior to making the butter. I checked with a few CVap experts to get their thoughts, and the consensus was that it couldn’t be done. However, I was determined to give it a go, so I proceeded to try…and it worked!
I sought out the most unprocessed, unadulterated cream that I could find, which was plain pasteurized cream from Whole Foods. I wanted to ensure that there were none of the stabilizers that are typically found in more processed brands.
Cook & Hold Set Points. Constant Cook ON (Green Light ON), 200°F Doneness, 1 Browning, 10 Hours. Mason jars were filled about half way, and into the oven they went.
I checked the cream from time to time because of the setpoints I was using – I wanted to ensure that the oven would not run out of water, and I needed to monitor the visual changes of the cream (Note: Do not agitate the cream when checking its appearance!). If your oven’s auto water fill has been hooked up, this would be a great overnight process. I increased the frequency of my cream checks as it evolved, to ensure that I was going in the right direction. I probably could have taken the process further, but after ten hours, my bed was beckoning.
The next morning, I prepared the batches of butter. I had reserved a pint of cream the day before to make a control butter, and I did so following the standard process using a stand mixer with the whip attachment. Next, I attempted to do the same with the browned cream.
I immediately noticed one glaring difference; the browned cream did not whip and aerate like the control. There was no volume at all! I was skeptical at that point and about to concede in defeat, but I kept it whipping and it suddenly separated! At that point I knew it would work and I’d be able to make brown butter butter.
What was my conclusion to this dairy experiment? That the milk solids are what caramelize; not the actual fat. When straining the buttermilk from the fat, the buttermilk had more of the delicious rich, nutty notes we all expect from brown butter. The fat did absorb those same characteristics, just not to as great a degree.
Now what to do…. I’m thinking ice cream, beurre blanc, brown buttermilk dressings, sauces, smoked brown butter butter, crème brûlée, anything really that uses buttermilk, cream or butter!