Brown Butter Butter

There is not a typo in the title of this post.  This is my attempt to make a spreadable brown butter.

Brown butter butter

Brown butter butter

Here’s the background info before hopping in:

Butter is made by agitating cream until its solids and liquids separate.  The solids, aka butter, consist of butterfat, milk proteins, and water.  The liquid byproduct of churning butter from cream is buttermilk, though different from the cultured buttermilk you pick up at the supermarket.  If you’ve ever ruined a nice frothy whipped cream by whipping it too much, you may have noticed small bits of fat globules forming in the bowl.  You were on your way to making butter!

Brown butter is made by heating butter to separate the fat, solids and water.  The water evaporates away and the solids are toasted in the butterfat giving brown butter its distinct nutty flavor.

The problem with making a spreadable brown butter is that the melting butter is an irreversible process once its components separate and the water evaporates.  If melted butter is resolidified, it will have more of a wax candle consistency.  Solution?  Infuse brown butter flavor into fresh unmelted butter.

Step 1:  Isolate brown butter flavor

Isolating the flavor essentially comes down to isolating the browned solids.  However, milk solids only makes up about 4% of butter.  To increase the yield, milk solids can be added by way of non-fat milk powder.  I added 1/4 cup of milk powder to one melted stick of butter.  Brown the solids slowly and strain once they are slightly passed golden brown.  They will darken more from carry over heat after being filtered from fat.  Once cooled, grind to a fine powder in a coffee or spice grinder.

Brown butter with non-fat milk powder

Brown butter with non-fat milk powder

Clarified butter and brown butter solids

Clarified butter and brown butter solids

Step 2: Infuse brown butter flavor

At this point, another stick of butter can be brought to room temperature and folded with the brown butter powder and a pinch of salt until uniform.  I went a bit further and made fresh butter with cream so I let the brown butter powder infuse with the cream in the refrigerator for about an hour.

To make butter from the heavy cream, place cream in robot coupe, blender or stand mixer with the whip attachment and whip the cream passed whipped cream stage until the fat globules separate from the liquid.  Once the butter is form, the buttermilk can be strained through a cheesecloth leaving the butter.

This butter can be molded into any shape and stored in the freezer indefinitely or up to a month in the refrigerator depending on how much of the buttermilk was squeezed out (the less buttermilk left in the butter, the longer it will last).

Results – The butter definitely needs to be salted for the nutty notes to shine.  The butter is a light beige with specks of brown.  Its visually appealing, signalling to the eater that this ain’t your mama’s bread and butter service.  I had some problems squeezing out all the liquids.  More on that in the next section.

Don’t throw away the clarified butter.  Use in place of regular oil.  It will not burn over high heat like butter because there are no solids in it.

Afterthoughts – I need to figure out how to get rid of more liquid and have a few thoughts to consider next time.  Homogenized vs non-homogenized cream.  Perhaps non-homogenized cream will lead to more separation.  It may be the addition of the milk powder that is causing the fat not to stick to itself, leaving small pockets of liquid.  I was averse to “cleaning” the butter with cold water in fear that flavor will be compromised, but even still, the fat just didn’t want to stick anyway so I’m not sure that would have helped.  I may have to try infusing the buttermilk with flavor after the butter is formed and storing them together, a technique played around with recently by Ideas in Food.

Last thought – maybe I’m just bad at churning butter.  Thoughts and comments are always welcome.


  1. Chez @ Chez Moi · September 28, 2014

    What an interesting process. I admire your creativity and attention to detail! It sounds like it’s worth pursuing, to see if you can work out the technical details. Good luck!


    • Ron Fan · September 28, 2014

      Thanks so much! Great photos on your blog. Photography is my other passion.


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