Friday, August 21, 2009

Browned Butter

Sorry for the delay in my blogging. It's been a busy few weeks, and I've been feeling a little lazy (as is known to happen when the summer heats up). Anyway, a few weeks ago, while I was back home, my mother brought a recipe for Browned Butter Oatmeal Cookies to my attention. I'd never used browned butter before, and the article in which she had seen the recipe (in an issue of Vogue apparently), had boasted that they were the best oatmeal cookies. The recipe is very simple, and essentially makes shortbread with oatmeal in it. The resulting cookies were excellent. Crispy and sandy, with a wonderful toasted taste. These were definitely worth the foray into brown butter. The brown butter actually used in the recipe is a little odd itself, and I've included the recipe for it after the cookie recipe. A candy thermometer is helpful here.

Oatmeal Brown-Butter Cookies

Makes about 30

1 cup browned butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups quick cook oatmeal (not instant)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to beat together the sugar and softened butter (the goal is not to cream the butter here, I found this took a fair amount of jabbing with the blunt end of my spoon).

2. In another bowl, combine the oatmeal, baking soda, salt, and flour. Using a wooden spoon, mix these into the butter (this again took a lot of mashing). Mix in the vanilla. The result should be crumbly, but cohesive enough to squeeze into balls.

3. Place 1 inch balls of dough 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Flatten the cookies with a fork until they are 1/4 inch thick.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, until pale-gold. Let cool on their sheets for a minute, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

5. Store in an airtight container.

Browned Butter

This makes 2 cups, more than you'll need for one batch of cookies

1 lb butter
1 cup powdered milk

1. Take a large bowl and fill it with ice, put a smaller, but still sizable bowl in it (ideally metal). You will need to pour your butter into this later. Set aside.

2. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the powdered milk. Continue heating the butter, stirring occaissionally. The butter will begin to bubble and foam, this is the water boiling off.

3. Continue heating the butter until it stops sizzling. It should begin to darken. Let the butter cook until it is a medium brown, like the color of a paper grocery bag. Alternatively, the temperature should reach between 245 and 250 degrees F.

4. Pour the butter into the prepared cold bowl. Immediately begin vigorously whisking the butter. At first butter will begin to solidify around the edges, use your whisk to scrape this off and reincorporate it into the whole butter mass. Stop whisking when the butter becomes too thick. This will take some time.

5. Move to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

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