Home cooks are catching on to this one thing that makes just about any dessert taste even better. So, what is it?

Brown Butter Cookies topped with pecans
Brown Butter Cookies | Photo by lutzflcat
| Credit: lutzflcat

Try this recipe: Brown Butter Cookies

The answer is brown butter. Specifically, you brown your butter before you use it in your dessert recipes. What? Why? How? Read on:

Q: What's the big deal about browning butter?

A: Brown butter is regular unsalted butter that has been cooked until the butter melts, the milk solids caramelize, and the whole thing looks like molten gold, smells like toasted hazelnuts, and tastes super-rich and nutty. Now, imagine using all that intensified color, aroma, and flavor in your recipe instead of plain butter. See why it's the hot trend in dessert-making?

Q: How do I use brown butter in desserts?

A: Use brown butter anywhere you'd use regular butter: cakes, cookies, frostings, and icings, to name a few. Once you've browned your butter, you can let it cool and solidify, and use it in recipes as you would room-temperature butter.

Q: Recipe ideas, please?

A: These recipes get you started with detailed instructions on how to brown the butter and use it. Once you get the hang of it, you can feel free to substitute brown butter in other dessert recipes. Note: Because of the caramelization, brown butter is darker than regular butter. It also contains even darker flecks from the caramelized milk solids, which will show up as tiny spots in light colored frostings and icings. You can pour the butter through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the solids if you wish, but that's strictly optional. Besides, those flecks add a rustic visual interest.

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