Friday, August 27, 2010

I HEART Browned Butter: Daring Bakers’ August 2010 Challenge

I think the title says it all. When I first started baking it was before vegan baked goods were readily available. I started baking as a way to enjoy sweets when I was vegan. Though I am no longer vegan (still have vegan beliefs, though not in practice… Long story... Let’s just say I am morally opposed to myself; I love cheese and butter, obviously :-), my baked goods were so well received that I continued to bake without the “holy couple” of baking--butter and eggs. I loved my vegan margarine, but that brand is not available on the East Coast and other brands have not proven to be the same, so I switched over to real butter. Oh My Goodness, the first time I had a chocolate chip cookie made with butter I fell in love!

Then to make this long story even longer, on one of our previous baking challenges we made a caramel browned butter frosting in November 2008. That is when I discovered that butter could taste even better once browned. So, this month’s challenge is my homage to all things browned, caramelized, and good.

I made for your viewing pleasure and my tasting pleasure-- Browned Butter Cake with Pecan Praline Browned Butter Buttercream Petit Fours.

Required blog check lines: The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

The main components of this month’s challenge are browned butter pound cake, ice cream, and meringue (if the baked alaska was chosen). I have always loved petit fours and thought this a good time as any to make them, but then opted to use a heart shaped muffin pan instead, just because I HEART browned butter so much! (Since “petit four” in French means “small oven,” my heart shaped desserts qualify.) Plus, I just do not like meringue, as in the white foamy stuff on top of a pie Lemon Meringue pie, but in a Swiss Meringue buttercream it is okay. Lastly, I choose a buttercream instead of ice cream because I am not a big ice cream eater. I still have the whole swiss roll ice cream cake (minus 2 tasting slices) in the freezer from last month’s challenge.

Thoughts & Reflections
1. I LOVED the browned butter pound cake. I will definitely be using that recipe again in the future. It was good all by it self, no icing necessary.

2. When making the buttercream it is super important that the browned butter has completely cooled and re-congealed. I did not let mine sit long enough and the buttercream was not as firm as I wanted. Therefore, I spread the filing layers very thin.

3. I found the chocolate completely over powering. I did not taste the delicate nutty flavor of the butter or the caramel pecan hints in the frosting. All I could taste was strong semi-sweet chocolate.

4. As always, I burned the first batch of caramel (for the pecan pralines). Yup, that would be every time that I have ever made caramel I burn the first batch.
9.5 Tbs - Butter, Browned
1 C - Sifted, Cake Flour
1/2 tps - Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1/4 C - Brown Sugar
1/6 C - Granulated Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1/2 tps – vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and put a rack in the center. Spray muffin pan with flour and shortening mixture.

2. Place the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

6. Scope the batter into the muffin cups. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes before removing the cakes to the cooling rack to cool completely.

1 recipe Swiss Buttercream (Recipe Below)
1/3 cup praline paste (Make your favorite praline and then grind to a paste in a food processor)
1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)
1. Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream.

2. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine.

3. Blend in rum.
2 Large Egg Whites
1/4 + 1/8 C - sugar
1 1/2 stick Butter, Browned, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbs - Caramel Syrup
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Place the egg whites in a large bowl of a electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage).

2. Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time.

3. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.

4. Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until it is a thick, cool meringue, about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

5. Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become too soft.*

6. On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.
Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.
3oz - Chocolate
3/8 C - Heavy Cream
1/2 Tbs - Light Corn Syrup
3/8 tps - Vanilla
1. Stir heavy cream and light corn syrup together in a small sauce pan until it comes to a boil.
2. Remove from heat and add chocolate.
3. Let sit for 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate.
4. Stir in vanilla and let cool slightly. The consistency should be good for dipping/pouring over cake.
1. Slice each browned butter pound cake muffin into thirds horizontally.

2. Between the layers pipe or spread the pecan praline browned butter buttercream frosting.
3. Genteelly press the cake layer and butter cream together. Clean up any frosting that may have slipped out the slide.
4. Refrigerate the cake to allow the buttercream to firm up.
5. Now is the time to prepare the ganache glaze. Dip the petit four in the chocolate ganache or drizzle the ganache over the petit four.

6. Allow the chocolate to firm up at room temperature or place back in the fridge for a short amount of time.

Lastly, enjoy the yummy taste of your creation!


  1. I can see that you really fell in love with brown butter. Maybe that's why your desserts are so inspiring! Very sophisticated! Great job! Loved the hearts!

  2. They sound delicious! Amazing job!