Better with Brown Butter

Butter makes everything better.

Nothing else provides the same level of depth, indulgence, and complexity to every dish it’s used in quite like butter.

With its rich, creamy decadence and unmistakable flavor, it very well may be unmatched.

While a love for butter is nothing new, the versatility of this dairy staple is helping some find even more ways to bring another level of luxury to their culinary experiences.

This may be why brown butter seems to be having a moment.

From home cooks to fine dining and increasingly supermarket shelves, brown butter is popping up in everything from Italian and Mexican cuisine to snacks, baked goods, and beyond. Perhaps fueled by social media mentions (up 16.98% in 2023), new product launches with “brown butter” show a 5-year NA CAGR of 10.05% and a Global CAGR of 25.74%.

brown-butter-cookies

What makes Brown Butter so good?

“Brown butter is made from taking unsalted butter and slowly cooking to toast and brown the milk solids which give it that brown characteristic,” explains Angela Lantman, Edlong’s Manager NA–Applications.

“It creates this beautiful, nutty, toasty butter profile traditionally used in cooking for a lot of sauces (fish, veggies, pastas) and is becoming increasingly popular in baking for things like cookies and frostings.”

Adding a slight nuttiness reminiscent of almonds or hazelnuts, paired with a toasty caramelization, creates new levels of sophistication and refinement to the already beloved richness of regular butter.

Yet, while developers understand that these unique characteristics make brown butter a perfect addition to sweet and savory products, taking these recipes from the kitchen to commercialization can prove challenging.

What makes Brown Butter so challenging?

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“As a profile, brown butter is easy to work with. However, as an ingredient, it comes with hurdles that make it more complicated to scale. The two primary obstacles are the loss of water content and the fragility of the desired notes when using industrial processing.”

Lantman elaborates, “When you create brown butter you are essentially evaporating a lot of the water content out of the butter. Although this creates amazing flavor, that lack of moisture can have downstream impacts on your base and final application. For example, if you’re making a bakery item and you don’t account for this, it’s not going to bake right, possibly ruining your texture and consistency.”

She continues, “Brown butter is an incredibly delicate and sensitive ingredient. If you cook it too much or not enough, you may drastically change the taste and notes that come through.  This is easy to standardize in the kitchen, but for consumer products like a sauce or a cookie, you’re going to have to cook or bake it again. Additionally, the processing conditions used for commercial production and stability can easily throw off the balance of the brown butter profile.”

Then, of course, there’s cost.

Like most commodities, butter has experienced price instability at best and general increases at worst. With this trend likely to continue, increasing the amount of butter used in a formulation isn’t really an option.

With that said, the question becomes, “Is it really possible to capture the flavor of brown butter without the headaches?”

According to Lantman, the answer is “Yes!”

What makes authentic Brown Butter profiles possible?

“What someone considers to be an authentic butter flavor can vary greatly from region to region or person to person. Brown butter is no different, and maybe even more nuanced. That’s why we always start by asking a customer for their gold standard recipe, so that we’re making it exactly the way they want it to be made,” says Lantman.

Through their gold-standard recipe, Edlong’s R&D team analyzes and understands the specific notes and nuances each customer wants to capture by adding brown butter to their product.

This is then used to recreate a flavor profile tailored note by note to the experience they’re looking to build for their consumers.

Edlong’s flavors allow developers to achieve the elegance they’re looking for from traditional brown butter without the added costs and technical issues that can accompany it.

making-brown-butter-scaled

They also foster a greater level of creativity, where products that would not normally include butter can benefit from the elevation brown butter has to offer. Think cream cheeses, yogurts, ice creams, and even sticks or tubs of fresh butter top-noted with the toasty, nutty goodness.

Lantman emphasizes, “Whether it’s a sauce, cookies, or anything else, really, giving people the high-end taste of brown butter, without the high-end effort of constantly stirring and standing over a pot on the stove, is fantastic. Collaborating with Edlong can do the same thing for developers looking to unlock everything brown butter can be.”

About the Author: Angela Lantman, Manager – NA Applications

I’ve worked in the flavor industry as a product developer and manager for almost 25 years. Balancing art and science to create great tasting foods and beverages has been my passion as a product developer.  I’m lucky to continue working with customers while leading an awesome team of food scientists and chefs. Participating in the plant-based market evolution has been both challenging and rewarding. Me and Edlong are here to help find a great tasting solution to your next challenge.


Topics: Butter flavors
Resource Type: Article
Resource Region: US

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