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Easy Brown Butter Frosting

Easy Brown Butter Frosting from Out of the Box Baking

It’s nutty. It’s rich. It has a distinctive flavor that’s simply impossible to resist. In fact, it’s so swoon-worthy that most folks can’t wrap their heads around it. But once you’ve tried brown butter in your baking products, you’ll never go back. It’s that good.

Brown Butter? That’s a thing?

Oh, you bet it is! And it’s so spectacular that once you taste it you’ll have a hard time not adding it to, well, everything! You’ll wonder where it has been all of your life. And you’ll want to track down whoever came up with the idea so that you can offer that person a pat on the back, along with your most sincere thanks.

So, Where Did it Come From, Anyway?

According to Wikipedia, Beurre noisette (literally: hazelnut butter, loosely: brown butter) is a type of warm sauce used in French cuisine

Let’s take a moment of silence to honor the French.

No doubt the whole thing happened by accident. (“Oh dear! I only meant to melt that butter, not burn it!”) But, heavens to Betsy! What a happy accident that turned out to be for all of us, if so!

Does Browning Butter Make a Difference?

You bet it does! When you “brown” butter, you’re cooking it until the water weight evaporates. When that happens, the milk proteins undergo a transformation, of sorts. It’s the same thing that happens to a slice of bread when you put it in the toaster. Only, the milk proteins take on a toffee-like taste and smell, distinct, pure, and altogether heavenly!

Why is Brown Butter so Good?

The answer is in these three little words: depth of flavor. When you toast those milk proteins, you take them to a whole new level. It’s the difference between having a crush on someone and falling head-over-heels in love.

How to Use Brown Butter in Your Frostings

So, we’ve established that brown butter is, for lack of a better term, otherworldly. And we’ve discussed the “Why?” behind it. Now it’s time to talk about how to use this well-kept secret in your foods. You can incorporate brown butter into many savory foods (see the list at the end of this post), but you can use it across the board in your baking, too. Add it to your cookies, cakes, and fillings to bump up your flavor profiles. Dazzle your family and friends with the unique taste that only brown butter provides. The possibilities are endless. My favorite way to experience brown butter, though? Frostings.

Brown Butter Frosting

Easy Brown Butter Frosting from Out of the Box Baking
Brown butter frosting adds richness and depth.

I’m particularly fond of my Maple Caramel Frosting made with Brown Butter. (Side note: If the Pioneer Woman and a Lumberjack had a child, I’m pretty sure it would love this frosting.) There’s just something so remarkable about that nutty sensation when paired with even more butter and powdered sugar. Oh, but let’s don’t stop there! Throw in some cream cheese and. . .swoon!

By now you’re probably drooling, so we’d better get to it. Without any further ado, I give you my Brown Butter Frosting.

Now for the Brown Butter Maple-Caramel Frosting:

  • 2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
  • One block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 block Crisco (or other white shortening, equivalent of one cup)
  • One bag (7-8 cups) powdered sugar
  • ½ cup caramel topping
  • ½ tsp maple extract
  • 1 add’l stick of salted butter, browned (see instructions below)

Brown Butter (for frosting):

Easy Brown Butter Frosting from Out of the Box Baking
Ahh! Butter!

Place the stick of butter in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for a few minutes until it turns golden. You’ll know it’s at the sweet spot when the foam rises and falls and you’re left with a nutty aroma. Tiny kernels of goodness will form at the base of the pan and you will hear an angel choir begin to sing. No, really. Set the brown butter aside to cool. 

Brown Butter Maple-Caramel Frosting:

Place softened cream cheese in mixing bowl and mix until all lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth. Add the two sticks of butter and whip until incorporated. Now add the shortening and continue to cream. When you’re happy with the look and feel of the mixture, slowly work in the full bag of confectioner’s/powdered sugar, a little at a time (on low speed). Add the caramel and maple into the frosting. Now comes the good part. Pour in the cooled brown butter and whip until the entire batch of frosting smells like heaven on earth. You will be tempted at this point to dive face-first into the bowl, but resist the temptation. Instead, put the frosting into a piping bag with a 1M tip. 

Hints and Tips:

Be careful not to burn your butter. There’s a temptation to rush the process and you can’t recover the butter once it’s burnt. Cook over a medium low heat.

Check out this video from the Sugar Geek Show for more about how to make and use brown butter.

Other recipes that incorporate brown butter:

  • Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter: Every baker needs an amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe, one that causes people to stop in their tracks and say, “Oh my goodness, this is the best cookie I’ve ever eaten!” This recipe will bring that sort of reaction.
  • Brown Butter Banana Bread: If you love the texture and ease of a traditional banana bread but also love the warm, nutty flavor of brown butter, have I got a treat for you! This simple recipe adds rich spices and luscious browned butter for a unique twist on an old favorite. 
  • Brown Butter Walnut Cake: This rich yellow cake, loaded with browned butter, toasted walnuts, and vanilla extract will make you swoon. 
  • Brown Butter Pecan Cookies: These are over-the-top tasty! I’m pretty crazy about pecans, so I might be biased, though.
  • Use brown butter in your sauces (over pasta. . .so tasty!)
  • Check out this recipe for scallops in a brown butter sauce!

So, what’s stopping you? Start browning that butter, y’all!

Easy Brown Butter Frosting

Easy Brown Butter Frosting

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 21 minutes

In this tutorial I give you a full breakdown of how to make brown butter and, then, how to incorporate it into my Dreamy Buttercream. You’re not going to believe the difference this brown butter makes to your cakes and cupcakes! (And your savory recipes, too!)

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
  • One block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 block Crisco (or other white shortening, equivalent of one cup)
  • One bag (7-8 cups) powdered sugar
  • ½ cup caramel topping
  • ½ tsp maple extract
  • 1 add’l stick of salted butter, browned (see instructions below)

Instructions

    Place the stick of butter in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for a few minutes until it turns golden. You’ll know it’s at the sweet spot when the foam rises and falls and you’re left with a nutty aroma. Tiny kernels of goodness will form at the base of the pan and you will hear an angel choir begin to sing. No, really. Set the brown butter aside to cool. 

    Place softened cream cheese in mixing bowl and mix until all lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth. Add the two sticks of butter and whip until incorporated. Now add the shortening and continue to cream. When you’re happy with the look and feel of the mixture, slowly work in the full bag of confectioner’s/powdered sugar, a little at a time (on low speed). Add the caramel and maple into the frosting. Now comes the good part. Pour in the cooled brown butter and whip until the entire batch of frosting smells like heaven on earth. You will be tempted at this point to dive face-first into the bowl, but resist the temptation. Instead, put the frosting into a piping bag with a 1M tip. 

About the Author

Janice Thompson is an author, baker, and all-around mischief maker! She has overcome a host of baking catastrophes, including a toppled wedding cake, to learn more about the baking process. Janice has published over 150 books for the Christian market but particularly enjoys writing recipes and baking devotions. To learn more about Janice or to drop her a note, visit her About the Author page.

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