Brown Butter Butter – A Delicious Science Experiment!

The title of this post is not a typo. Beurre noisette is the French term for brown butter. Indeed, it’s typically a sauce in which whole butter is melted until the milk solids separate (from the butterfat), caramelize, and brown. Truly, it’s incredibly rich and delicious. Notably, the aroma and flavor resemble toasted hazelnut.

I wanted to brown the cream in a CVap before making the butter. First I checked with a few CVap experts to get their thoughts. The consensus was that it couldn’t be done. However, I was determined to give it a go, so I tried…and it worked!

The Brown Butter Process

I sought out the most unprocessed, unadulterated cream that I could find. It was plain pasteurized cream from Whole Foods. Critically, I wanted to ensure that there were none of the stabilizers that are typically found in more processed brands.

Cook and Hold Oven Set Points. Constant Cook ON (Green Light ON), 200°F Doneness, 1 Browning, 10 Hours. The mason jars were filled about halfway and placed in the oven.

cream for brown butter

I checked the cream from time to time because of the setpoints I used. This was to ensure that the oven would not run out of water. Also, I needed to monitor the visual changes of the cream (Note: Do not agitate the cream when checking its appearance!). Clearly, if your oven’s auto water fill has been hooked up, this would be a great overnight process. Meanwhile, I increased the frequency of cream checks as it evolved, ensuring it was going in the right direction. Obviously the process could have gone further, but after ten hours, my bed was beckoning.

More cream for brown butter
yep, more cream for brown butter
another shot of cream for brown butter

Batches of Butter

The next morning I prepared the batches of butter. Previously I had reserved a pint of cream to make a control butter. Using a stand mixer and whip attachment, I followed the standard process. Next, I attempted to do the same with the browned cream.

I immediately noticed one glaring difference. Notably, the browned cream did not whip and aerate like the control. Consequently, there was no volume at all! I was skeptical at that point and about to concede in defeat. But I kept it whipping and it suddenly separated! At that point, I knew it would work. I’d be able to make brown butter butter.

What was my conclusion to this dairy experiment? Definitely, the milk solids are what caramelize; not the actual fat. When straining the buttermilk from the fat, the buttermilk had more of the delicious rich, nutty notes we expect from brown butter. Clearly, the fat did absorb those same characteristics, just not to as great a degree.

brown cream for brown butter
yellow butter and brown butter

Now what to do…. I’m thinking ice cream, beurre blanc, brown buttermilk dressings, sauces, smoked brown butter butter, crème brûlée, anything really that uses buttermilk, cream or butter!