Browned Butter, (Hello my little friend) also known as Beurre noisette, which in French literally translates to, "hazelnut butter." This unbelievable nutty phenomenon has been used since medieval times in French cuisine. The French knew exactly what they were doing when they allowed the clarified butter to brown. In essence, the water begins to evaporate, leaving only milk solids and butterfat. The milk solids sink to the bottom and become small brown flecks among the mixture. So, do not fear if you see these in the browning process. You have not ruined the butter. But, do keep in mind. We are making browned butter, not burnt butter. As I’ve said before, there are mere minutes in cooking time between the two, but a universe of difference between their tastes. You will know if you’ve burned it. It will smell burned and repulsive, rather than nutty and wonderful.
Let’s take a little walk through its cooking process. Its started bubbling up and breaking down a bit:
Now here, wow, its really starting to foam up. For a moment, you may think its going to overtake your kitchen like one of those weird science experiments.But, it won’t…
Now finally, we are starting to see some beautiful color creep into our butter. Lovely, swirly colors. But, look closely..its a beautiful coppery brown, not black. (Yes, that is important)
This, beautiful, nutty, rich chocolate brown (ok, I’ll stop now) butter is what you’re looking for. Remember, don’t worry about those brown bits at the bottom of your pan. They are part of this browned butter too!
Now, I just want to get up on my Sinful Southern Sweets soapbox for a minute. ***If you have never tried browned butter in a recipe, you must do this!!! Soon! Browned butter is one of those little surprises in life that will make you want to be mad at your Mama because she never told you at an early age how unbelievable it tastes. You’ll be very ticked that you’ve wasted all your life not enjoying it!! Seriously, people, this is not an option, you must try it. If you would like to try it in something a little simpler, check out these Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats ***Ok, I’m down off that soapbox now. Don’t make me go back up there….
So, moving on…When I first started thinking of this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge, I was a bit torn. We had two options. We could make Baked Alaska. Which, I can not begin to tell you how appealing this option was just for the mere fact that I was going to get to use a little blow torch to brown the whole thing. OK, well, that was the main reason I was attracted to the Baked Alaska. But, then I saw we could make petit fours, well, I’m a sucker for itty bitty cakes. And Mr. Sweets said he’d rather have the petit fours because he didn’t really like meringue. So it was settled. Then I began thinking of the ice cream for the filling. We could use any homemade ice cream recipe we wanted. I don’t really do well when given so much free reign. I tend to become compulsive and search for hours through recipes trying to make a decision. I knew the ice cream needed to have a bit of mature complexity. No kiddy flavors like grape or cookie dough. Well, I like grape and cookie dough ice cream as much as the next person, but it just didn’t seem like it paired correctly. Imagine displaying your petit fours and offering to a guest “Please try my delicious browned butter and grapico ice cream petit fours.” Its just not right….Yet, I just couldn't stomach the thoughts of doing a "too mature" ice cream like caviar, feta and pear ice cream or some oddity that my palate has just not developed enough to accept (When did ice cream get that mature anyways!?!). Let's face it, part of me still wants the kiddy flavors. So here's what I came up with.... Pecan Toffee Crunch Ice Cream (with a fudge swirl!).
The ice cream is my new favorite. (Well, 2nd favorite. Mama's Peach Ice Cream will always be my number one favorite!) Mmmm….I’m not sure I can even continue….No, I’m going to just go lust over these little frozen beauties. You go make these. You will not regret it. Try to share them. Even if they’re a pain to assemble. You will make new friends or you could patch up old relationships. You need these in your life…….Enjoy!
Brown Butter Pound Cake
19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Pecan Toffee Crunch Ice Cream
- 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup coarsely chopped Emerald Glazed Pecans, Pecan Pie flavored
- ½ cup coarsely chopped Heath Bars (about 1½ 1.4-ounce bars)
- 1 jar Hershey's Hot Fudge Ice cream syrup
- To make the ice cream: In a medium-size bowl, with an eggbeater or a whisk, beat the egg yolks until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until incorporated. Set aside. In a double boiler, over simmering water, scald the half-and-half. Add ½ cup of the half-and-half to the egg mixture, stirring to warm the egg yolks. Return the entire mixture to the double boiler and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the pot in a bowl of cold water. Cool the custard to room temperature (about 45 minutes), stirring once about halfway through to prevent a skin from forming on the top. When the custard has cooled to room temperature, stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, preferably overnight. Pour into an ice cream machine and freeze until partially set, about 20 minutes. Stir in the almonds and Heath Bars, and continue freezing until firm, about 5 more minutes, following the manufacturer's instructions. Turn off the ice cream machine, and using a small offset spatula or knife, swirl in the hot fudge syrup.
You can glaze petit fours with a number of different coatings. I used a peanut butter confectioners coating. It is great if you are in a hurry. If you have the time, and would prefer a chocolate glaze you can try this recipe:
9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.