Welcome to week 2 of Eat Something Sunday. This week I want to share one of the most delicious things you can do in the kitchen: brown butter. It's a great technique to master as it can amp up the flavors of savory dishes, sauces, and even sweet things! These cupcake and frosting recipes are made awesome with the inclusion of delicious, delicious, browned butter.
For those unfamiliar, browned butter (aka beurre noisette) is butter that has been cooked and has allowed the milk solids to get all nutty and delicious. It's awesome. And it's not terribly hard - though it does require a good bit of attention.
1 - Take your butter and chop it up and put it in a heavy-bottomed pan. If you have one with a light-colored interior (such as my favorite vintage Le Creuset), all the better. (This makes it easier to watch the color later).
2 - Turn your flame on to a medium heat. You don't want it to heat up too fast, but it needs to be hot enough to melt and boil. STIR OFTEN.
3 - It will first foam up, then boil. KEEP STIRRING. Not constantly, but don't let it sit alone too much as the butter parts separate you want them to *brown* not burn. So stirring is good.
4 - The boil will go from big bubbles to suddenly tiny. THIS IS THE MOMENT! Watch it, stir it, TURN DOWN THE HEAT a little. You'll smell as it starts to develop that lovely nutty scent, and you can see the color change to a hazelnut brown. Sometimes it has a little foam. Just push that aside with a knife or spatula to keep watching the color (this is what I did in the top-most photo).
Take it off the heat and allow to cool a bit. You're finished!
This technique is used in both the cupcakes and the icing recipes below. Enjoy!
VANILLA BROWNED BUTTER CUPCAKES
adapted from the Cupcake Project
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk**
**Yes, the photo shows 1/2 cup. I goofed.
Preheat oven to 350F
Brown your butter and allow it to cool to room temperature. (This is EXTREMELY important as otherwise you will later cook your egg whites if the butter is too hot. Eww).
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl (or your main stand mixer bowl) whip egg whites until they are frothy. Don't skimp - really get them fluffy! Slowly mix your sugar into the whites.
Mix your cooled butter and vanilla into the sugar/whites mixture.
Now mix in the dry ingredients and the milk in parts, alternating between the two.
Fill your lined cups 3/4 full. I prefer to use a 1/4cup measure to do this:
Now bake for 20 minutes at 350F. Allow to cool fully before frosting.
BROWNED BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
very slightly adapted from Always with butter
This makes about double what you need for 12 cupcakes. You can halve it or you can relish in the extra frosting for other treats!
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp molasses
pinch of salt (if you have to use salted butter, omit this
5 - 6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
Brown the butter and pour it into a bowl to cool until it has reached the consistency of softened butter. (You can speed this along in the freezer so long as you carefully check on it every 5-10 minutes).
Cream together the cooled and thickened butter with the vanilla and molasses. Add in half the powdered sugar and half the milk and beat until blended. Add in remaining milk and sugar (you may need less or more depending on the consistency of your butter as you began). Beat until fluffy!
This frosting enjoys the lovely look of all the little flecks of creamy, dreamy, beurre noisette. Nom.
Some cupcakes cry out for fancy piping. This is not one of those recipes. I think it's best served by just spreading on beautifully with a spatula. Slather it. Pile it on. Enjoy. These cupcakes taste a little bit like heaven.