irishtimes– The smell of butter browning is one that can’t be beaten. Warm and toasty and bubbling, it is a comfort, and a method that is often overlooked in cooking. Browning your butter can add a depth of flavour that adding plain old regular butter just cannot achieve.
Beurre noisette is the French term, literally meaning hazelnut butter, as once the butter melts, starts to colour and turn a deep golden brown, the aroma is reminiscent of hazelnuts, although in fact, there are no hazelnuts in its production. It is a method that has been used for an age, and it works well in fish or vegetable dishes, or as a base for sauces. The toasty flavour of brown butter also lends particularly well to desserts.
Browned butter takes no time at all to make. The key to knowing when it is done is to swirl your saucepan once it starts to foam, keep an eye on it, and when the butter at the bottom of the pan has turned a rich coppery brown and the kitchen is filled with a wonderful nutty aroma, it’s ready.
One of the easiest bakes to make is shortbread. Irresistibly crumbly, it is the perfect buttery melt-in-the-mouth biscuit. Usually, shortbread has three ingredients, the basic pantry staples used in baking – sugar, butter and flour, and that’s it. Some recipes call for cornflour, this adds to the shortness or crumbliness of the biscuit, and is really up to personal preference.
This recipe sees browned butter used instead of regular butter, it adds a lovely earthiness and is an interesting alternative to regular shortbread. I’ve added pecans to my shortbread dough too. They add a crunchy texture and buttery flavour, think pecan pie in biscuit form. Leave them out if you prefer, or use an alternative nut; hazelnuts also work well.
This biscuit dough won’t be stiff, it will be much softer than normal shortbread as the butter has been melted. Pack it into your tin and score the dough into rectangles, to easily click off fingers once baked.