The French are old hands at incorporating the nutty, toasted flavor of beurre noisette (i.e. brown butter) into their pastries. It's a simple trick, but one that can totally change the nature of your dessert. By heating butter over low heat, you separate the butter into butterfat and milk solids. The milk solids begin to brown and gives the butter a toffee-like flavor.
I recently brought this technique to an all-American treat: the blondie. It made perfect sense as blondies already have a butterscotch-y, caramel-y flavor thanks to ample amounts of brown sugar and some vanilla. Adding browned butter simply takes that same flavor profile up a notch.
These are great cut into 1-inch squares and served as dessert at a cocktail party or with coffee after a low key dinner. A few bites gives you a ton of flavor, and for those who care, it's on trend with the whole "childhood treats given an adult spin" that's sweeping pastry departments these days. Of course if you want to eat a whole big blondie straight from the pan, you won't get any judgment from me.
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease pan with butter.
Place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until melted. Continue to cook (the butter will foam) until it is fragrant and a nutty brown color. Take off the heat and pour through a sieve into a large bowl. Let cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Add brown sugar to bowl with butter and whisk until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and whisk to combine. Stir in dry ingredients until just incorporated. Pour batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 20-30 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting.
8- by 8-inch baking pan, whisk, saucepan