Thursday, March 29, 2012

Brown Butter Brown Sugar Tuiles

Brown butter will make you think about butter in a whole new way.

Have you ever tried it?

It's easy to make and soooooo rewarding.

As you make it and the nutty, toasty, buttery aroma fills the room, you just know. You know that everything is going to be OK. There is nothing brown butter can't fix.

Except my busted up heels on my favourite pumps. I'm walking on nails. I wish brown butter could fix that for me.

Brown butter is exactly what it is - browned butter.

You simply put butter in a saucepan and melt it over medium-low heat. Then, let it come to a boil. It will crackle and bubble as the water evaporates.

Remember that unlike shortening and lard, butter is a water-in-oil emulsion. It actually contains 16% water and is only about 80-82% fat. The remaining percent is composed of milk proteins and trace amounts of sugars.

As it boils, the butter will change to a golden yellow colour and the solids, which are composed of protein and milk sugar (lactose) react in a reaction called Maillard browning and turn brown. These brown bits pack a ton of caramel-like, nutty flavours and are worth ten times their weight in gold.

The batter for these cookies is wet, unlike most cookies that have more of a dough-like consistency. This is how it is supposed to be so that you can spread it out thinly.

Use the batter sparingly - only spread about 2 teaspoons of batter into 3-inch circles on a silpat. I work in batches of 6.

While still hot, carefully lift them off the parchment and lay them around a rolling pin. Let them cool for about 2 minutes so that they take the curved shape of the pin.

You need patience to work in batches because unless you have four silpats, you need to wait until the pans cool before you can start spreading out more cookies. It's alright though because the batter thickens as it sits and actually makes it easier to work with. Just cover the bowl with a towel in between sessions.

Once the cookies have taken the shape of the rolling pin, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. The result is a crisp and crunchy cookie that is perfect broken over ice cream or just served on the side.

Undeniably, they make a great snack because they pretty much look exactly like Pringles. Except they're sweet and they don't taste like sour cream or onion.

I tried eating them in stacks and off my right wasn't the same.

Brown Butter Brown Sugar Tuiles
Makes about 20 cookies

70 g (5 tbsp) unsalted butter 
65 g (2 large) egg whites
110 g (1/2 cup) packed light brown sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
70 g (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour 

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line two large baking sheets with silicone baking mats and set aside.

To brown the butter, place it in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until completely melted. Allow butter to come to a boil, stirring constantly. It will bubble and crackle as its water content evaporates. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the crackling noises begin to fade and the bubbles subside. A dense foam will form at the surface as the last bit of water squeezes out, and the colour will progress from golden yellow to tan and finally, brown. This takes around 8-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on it as butter can turn from brown to burnt within a matter of seconds. Once you smell that nutty aroma and begin to see little brown bits as you stir, take the pan off the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a medium heatproof bowl. (If you happen to cook it too far and the brown bits are now (burnt) black bits, you can strain the butter through a fine mesh sieve or a cheese cloth to remove them, as they can impart a bitter flavour to your dessert). Let it cool to room temperature. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg whites, brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt until well blended. Whisk in cooled brown butter until well combined and smooth. Add flour and stir it in using a rubber spatula until well incorporated and there are no lumps. The batter will be a bit loose at first but it will thicken as it sits.

Spoon no more than 1 tablespoon portions of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them equally apart and making no more than 6 cookies at a time. Spread the batter into 3-inch circles with a small offset spatula. Bake until the edges are brown and the centers are golden, about 7-8 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cookies on the next baking sheet.

When the first batch is ready, transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack. Working quickly while the cookies are hot, lift them from the baking sheet with a large off set spatula and drape them over a rolling pin. Let them cool for about 2 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Form and bake the remaining cookies in batches once the baking trays and silicone mats have cooled down. 

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