It might not seem like you could improve butter, and yet, there is a way

EC: Browning Butter Makes Butter Even Better
Credit: Photo by Flickr user Tracy Benjamin

You might be of the mindset that butter cannot be improved. And it’s true, butter is really great. It’s an essential ingredient in so many breakfast staples, and just a delight all on its own. You can add it to grits, smear it on toast—what am I doing, you know what to do with butter. It’s not exactly under the radar, even if you have specific tastes that require you to smuggle it from a different country. You might think that it’s better at a diner, but we can all agree that even if it’s just the stick of Hotel Bar from the grocery store, it’s hard to go wrong with butter. Which is why it sounds like heresy to say that there’s a way to make butter even better. But, indeed there is, particularly if you’re using it for baking or in sauces or, well, in anything. The answer is simple: brown your butter.

Browning butter is a pretty easy technique, even if you are usually averse to adding an extra step to your baking process. To make brown butter, basically all you do is melt butter in a skillet with a light colored bottom, so you can tell when the mixture is getting dark. It takes about four to five minutes of butter foaming and subsiding, but eventually the color will deepen. Once it gets to a light to medium brown-ish color, voila, you are done. You have browned butter. Put it in a container and put it in the fridge if you need it in a solid state, or add the melted stuff directly to sauces or pasta or mashed potatoes. LIke I said, you know what to do with butter.

Why bother? Because brown butter adds a hint of nutty richness to something that is already extremely good. Chocolate chip cookies with regular butter are amazing. Chocolate chip cookies with brown butter are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Brown butter just makes life that extra tiny bit better, with not all that much effort and no extra expense. Even if it’s not something you can deal with doing every time you use butter, browning your butter is that little touch that makes things special when you’re being fancy. Like actually buying parsley, or dusting off the wine glasses instead of pouring your Cabernet into a mug.