Hello friends! I hope your summer is going wonderfully so far. I can officially say that because June 21st marks the summer solstice. The longest day of the year. And you know what you will need for long summer days? Butter!
It makes sense in my head. Just think about all of the family get-togethers, the brunches, and the food!
And flavored butters are what can make long, leisurely summer breakfasts extra special. This flavored butter comes from Christina Tosi’s newest book, Milk Bar Life. It features cooked honey and lots of salt. In other words, it’s amazing.
Something magical happens when you cook honey. It turns nutty and golden brown. This process is called caramelization. Caramelization is what happens when sugar oxidizes and breaks down. Those breakdown products cause some pretty yummy new volatile flavors that are responsible for the taste of Coca Cola, the crust on top of a crème brulee, and many other treats.
The primary sugar in honey is fructose—a sweeter sugar than table sugar. Table sugar is pure sucrose which is comprised of two sugars linked together: fructose and glucose. The different sugar structures of sucrose and fructose mean that fructose caramelizes differently than the table sugar on top of your crème brulee. Fructose caramelizes more easily and gets darker in color. This feature of fructose means that the honey butter featured here is a fabulous dark color.
Christina Tosi actually heats the honey a bit past the caramelization point, however. Essentially she burns it. When you heat sugar past its caramelization point, it continues to degrade causing darker, more burnt flavors. These burnt flavors are extremely bitter. The perfect amount of these burnt flavors give a great complex flavor to the butter. You get nutty, sweet, and bitter all in one bite.
Upon making this butter I asked myself, ‘can I substitute this butter for regular in just about anything?’ The answer is yes! So far, this butter is the perfect addition to any sweet or salty food. I haven’t found an application yet that doesn’t suit it. Here, I’ve used the butter in its untouched form on a bagel, and I also put it in this excellent mug cake from Table for Two. I actually featured it in a previous post all about the microwave! The recipe of the butter is changed only slightly from Christina Tosi’s, and it is listed below followed by the mug cake recipe. Let me know if you use it in any other wonderful foods!
Barely adapted from Milk Bar Life
¼ cup honey (don’t worry about getting anything fancy)
½ cup unsalted butter
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. The honey will bubble and increase in volume, so use a pretty large pan. Heat it until it reaches about 320⁰F. Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. It will turn a very dark brown and begin to smell a bit like its burning. Don’t worry, you’re doing it right!
2. Remove the honey from the heat and stir in the butter until it is completely melted. Cool the mixture until the butter solidifies either at room temperature or in the fridge.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and honey mixture and beat on high with a paddle attachment. When the butter is very smooth, switch the paddle to the whisk attachment and scrape the edges of the bowl. Add the salt and check the flavor. If it doesn’t seem salty enough, add a pinch of salt. Return the mixer to high speed and whip until the butter becomes lighter. This should take another minute or so. If the butter gets too warm because you have a hot kitchen, return the butter to the fridge for several minutes before continuing to whip.
4. Store the butter in a closed container for up to a month.
Vanilla Mug Cake
Adapted from Table for Two
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
A big pinch kosher salt
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons burnt-honey butter (see above), melted
1. Combine the milk and vanillas in a glass measuring cup and mix to combine.
2. Melt the butter in a large heat-safe mug in the microwave. Add the contents of the measuring cup to the butter and mix briskly with a fork.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the mug and mix until no clumps remain in the batter.
4. Microwave the mug for about two minutes, or until the cake is light and fluffy. If you like your cake a little gooier, reduce the heat time accordingly.
5. Drizzle the cake with honey and dig in! I also found that I liked to add peanuts to the cake, because what’s better than a peanut butter and honey mix?!