Browned Butter

15 May

Beurre Noisette

OR

HOW C. LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE BROWNED BUTTER

Sometimes, C feels a little bit pretentious. Just a bit. Just enough to make beurre noisette (please read that out-loud, with the most ridiculous accent possible.)

In normal people speak, that’s brown butter.

In even more normal people speak, that’s butter which has been melted long and slow enough for the milkfats to solidify and cook.

In stupid people speak, (aka C without any coffee in her bloodstream) it’s delicious-smelling, liquid butter.

This process was a little bit of an ordeal. It wasn’t difficult, really. It was just hard to follow internet directions, with such “helpful” bits of advice like, “if it’s too dark, its blackened butter, and you should not use it.” Or “cook until it smells wonderful.” All melting butter smells lovely. Seriously. If C could use it as perfume, she probably would.  This lead to C having many mild freakouts of “OH NO! IT’S BLACK BUTTER! IT’S RUINED” (that occurred about one minute into cooking this, which ended up taking about 20 minutes.)

She also thought about giving up many times. After all, how different could browned butter be from her other buttery loves?

But, the results were worth all the stress, and C is now in an open relationship with butter, clarified butter AND brown butter. She’s never been happier.

Anyways, we hope that this step by step guide will help you to love browned butter, and lead you to many delicious enterprises. (We recommend THESE)

Cube butter into one inch pieces.

Heat a skillet on medium heat. Once it’s hot, turn heat down to low, and put butter into the skillet.

Melt the butter, while stirring with a whisk or fork, as you would for pouring on popcorn, or if you’re C, drinking out of a mug

The white milkfats will float to the top, but DO NOT WORRY and keep stirring.

At some point in time, the butter will turn clear. Seriously, things will be fine, even though you can’t see any hint of that yellow color. DO NOT WORRY. Keep stirring.

Now, the butter will really start smelling good. If we could bottle the scent and send it to you, trust us, we would. It does smell faintly like nuts, but it mainly just smells good.

At this point in time, those milk fats, which before had been white before, are now turning brown and falling towards the bottom. It looks very ugly. Again, DO NOT WORRY. Keep stirring. This is a sign its getting close to the end. The butter should also be shifting in color, from the clearish yellow its’ been to a darker, amber hue.

As soon as C saw her first brown speck, C actually poured the butter out of the pan. But the melted butter was much more than the recipe called for, so she realized it had to go out of the bowl, back into the frying pan. (get it? It’s like a pun on out of the frying pan, into the fire. You can laugh. It’s okay. We know we’re funny….Please. Laugh. Or C will keep making puns.)

So, back into the frying pan the butter goes, until it gets a bit darker, almost caramel colored. Its better, your first few times, to make it on the safe side of not quite brown. You’ll get more comfortable with knowing when it’s truly browned, the more you make it. And trust us. Once you’ve made it, you’ll want it again. DO NOT WORRY.

Tada. You’ve made beurre noisette. Put on a beret, and open some champagne.

As for those little brown bits, opinions are divided on if you should put them into the recipe or not. We always do, but if you want a less nutty taste, you can strain them out.

Browned Butter Coconut Cookies

14 May

Chocolate Chip Cookies Get Fancy

C was at home, and after losing thirty-five straight games of battleship, felt the need to prove she had some sort of talent. So, like any good baker, she searched for the most complicated cookie recipe she could find. This recipe , from Joy the Baker, fit the bill; browned butter, toasted coconut, chocolate…sounded perfect.
It. So. Was.

These are without a doubt, the best variation of Chocolate Chip cookies C has ever had. The browned butter, which wasn’t that difficult to make, (although you can read about her worries while making it HERE ), added a lot in flavor, and the coconut was crunchy and sweet, without being overwhelming.

These cookies are a bit sophisticated, so we wouldn’t recommend them for kids, but everyone C fed them to was very happy with the cookies. Her brother, especially could not stop eating them.
One word of warning: bake these directly. C, after making (and eating) a couple batches, decided to give the poor oven a break (or herself a nice, sugar-coma induced nap) and put the dough in the fridge. It stiffened and crumbled. She tried, utterly heartbroken, to resurrect the dough, and managed a couple more batches, but they lacked a lot of the amazing taste of the first batches. We think the coconut may have soaked up the lovely, lovely brown butter.

In short. DO NOT REFRIGERATED THE DOUGH! YOU WILL CRY TEARS OF AGONY AND REGRET AT LOSING OUT ON EATING SOME OF THESE COOKIES.

Browned Butter Coconut Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 F
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and browned to about 3/4 cup butter (Advice on browned butter, click HERE)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
½ cup toasted coconut See here for how to.
1 ½ cup dark chocolate chunks

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until browned. Remove browned butter from oven, pour into heatsafe bowl. Click HERE for more advice.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Pour granulated and brown sugar into a large bowl. Add the brown butter and beat together, using a mixer, on medium speed, for about 2 minutes. The sugar may still look grainy, but it should smell heavenly.

 

Add the egg and egg yolk and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until its silky smooth. Add vanilla extract and beat for about a minute or until evenly mixed.
With mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients. Beat until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to fold in the toasted coconut and chocolate chips. Dough will be thick.
Bake cookies immediately. Spoon balls by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown but still slightly soft in the center. Remove from the oven. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Only One Left...

 

C 6/5. Seriously. Fresh out of the oven. These will make your life better. And fatter. But mainly better.
K 3/5 (although she doesn’t like coconut, and ate one of the aforementioned ‘frozen dough’ cookies)

Cake Balls

13 May

If you read any baking blogs, we’re sure you’ve heard about these treats. Little balls of rich cake, on a stick? Even starbucks is making them now. We also jumped on this bandwagon, using  two boxes of the Duncan Hines cupcake mixes, because K voted for chocolate cake, and C voted for funfetti ( she’s about seven years old on the inside. She will fight you if you say that you can’t taste the sprinkled fun in funfetti.)

We also made homemade cream cheese frosting, but any kind of frosting, homemade or not, works. If you haven’t gotten the point yet, this is a very flexible recipe.

Some kind of cake+Some kind of frosting+chocolate coating=cake balls

Recipe follows

Continue reading

The Best Banana Bread

30 Apr

Banana Nut Bread is one of those foods that everyone has a favorite go to recipe. This one has been a long time favorite of C’s family. We’ve never heard anyone complain after eating a slice of this bread, though, and it’s beaten a lot of other family favorite recipes for Banana Nut bread.

You can use this recipe for bread, muffins or mini loaves. Or all three, as C did this time.

Using the blender for the banana mix makes the bread really smooth, and melt in your mouth yummy.

Toasting the nuts takes a bit of extra time, but is worth it. The flavor of the walnut deepens, and tastes better in the bread, as it is a little softer and richer. Little things like this really elevate a homemade goodie into something better than something from the store.

Hint: these are not a health food, but, since they have bananas, we give you permission to say they are.

BEST BANANA NUT BREAD

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients

10 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter, softened

between 2-4 very ripe bananas (brown spots all over the peel.)  Mash down to about a cup, using a fork.

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons cream cheese

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups cake flour

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts

Directions

Lightly grease a 9 1/4 by 5 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with 1 teaspoon of the butter, or use muffin tins and cupcake papers.

Puree the bananas, sour cream, cream cheese and vanilla  in a food processor, or a blender. It should be the consistentcy of a thick milkshake.

Add the eggs to the blender or food processor-pulse until the mix is frothy.

Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fixed with a whisk attachment.

Add the remaining 10 tablespoons butter and mix on medium-low speed until blended, about 30 seconds. There will be slight chunks, but that’s okay. Do NOT melt the butter before adding it.

Add the banana mixture in 3 batches, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing on medium speed between each addition. Fold in the nuts.

Pour into the loaf pan. Bake until lightly browned and bread bounces back to the touch, about 1 hour 10 minutes. For muffins, check after 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely.

C 5/5
K 4/5

Layered Marshmallow Brownies

22 Apr

K. and I had a disagreement over brownies. I wanted marshmallows in them. She wanted them full of pure chocolately goodness. We somehow reached an agreement, after emailing many recipes back and forth, on  a modified version of these

It was a good choice. A very, very good choice.

We did modify the recipe slightly, because we were short on time. Instead of making the brownies from scratch, we used a mix. Granted, it was the Ghirardelli double chocolate brownie mix, so we felt justified in the shortcut.

That topping? It’s fudge, very similar to the “No-Fail Fudge” recipe from the container of fluff.  The marshmallows are soft and sweet. They also serve to seperate the chocolate brownies from the heavenly fudge, which I think lets you enjoy both of the flavors even more.

They remind me a little of Mallow Cups… You know, those second cousins to Reese’s Cups? Only these brownies are so much more chocolately and fudgey, and decadent.

Now that we’ve got you all excited, here’s the recipe. We included the brownie part, but you can substitute any mix for that part.

Frosted Marshmallow Brownies 

modifed from Beantown Baker’s Recipe .
Preheat Oven to 350
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons baking cocoa
Hint: You have to buy chocolate chips for the topping, but you won’t use the whole bag. You might as well toss some in your batter, for extra chocolatey brownies

(You can also use any brownie mix for 13 by 9 pan. If so, you just need the marshmellows and the stuff for the topping (see below))

3-4 cups mini marshmallows (save the rest for the topping)

1. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan
2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla beat until fluffy.
3. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. Stir to combine. Add the flour mixture to creamed mixture. This is your brownie batter. Now, spread in greased 9×13 pan.

(If you’re using a mix, you should have followed the mix directions up to this point.)
Bake for 17-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with marshmallows, return to oven 2-3 mintues, or just until marshmallows are soft.

Remove from oven.

Using a metal knife dipped in hot water, spread the melted marshmallows evenly over bars. If they don’t spread well, that’s okay. It’s better to have lumps than to over spread and pull up parts of the brownie top.

Besides, you’re going to cover it all in fudge anyways.

Frosting
3/4 stick butter
6 Tablespoons Milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
3/4 cup Chocolate chips, roughly. We added more.

Combine butter, milk and sugar in medium saucepan and melt over medium low heat. Stir constantly. When making fudge, it’s really important to keep stirring, so the heat is distributed.

Bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute, stirring. Make sure you’re still on medium low heat.
Add marshmallows and chocolate chips
Stir constantly until marshmallows and chips are melted. It should be slightly thinner than if you were making fudge, but thick enough that it clings to the spoon a bit.


Remove from heat. Allow to cool and thicken slightly

Pour and spread over marshmallows on bars. Be gentle, so you don’t pull up the other levels of marshmallow and brownie. It’s easier to pour the fudge in a zig zag across all the pan, and then you just have to spread from line to line.

Let cool, and then cut, using a hot knife.

Vedict: Delish. Rich. You need a cup of milk with these.  A keeper recipe.

K’s Rating: 18/5 Seriously. Not a typo.

C’s Rating: 5/5 stars.