Brown Butter Ice Cream

Everybody loves brown butter. Even if you don’t know what brown butter is, you love it. You will love it. 

Brown butter is basically caramelized butter. The milk solids in the butter toast and brown, giving a whole new flavour profile. Think about plain granulated sugar. Now think of caramel. Both are sugar, but they are wildly different from each other in all other aspects. It’s the same with brown butter. It’s still butter technically, but there are complex and rich flavours going on in there now. You wouldn’t have butter ice cream, but you can certainly have brown butter ice cream.

The Maillard reaction is your best friend, no matter who you are. It’s what makes things taste good. That delicious mouth-watering smell of a steak on a grill? Maillard reaction. The depth of flavour in caramel? Maillard reaction. The smooth and dark taste of well-roasted coffee? Maillard reaction. 

Science lesson! The Maillard reaction is actually a complex series of chemical reactions involving amino acids during heating, usually around 155 to 160 degrees celsius. It is similar to caramelization, but they are actually two different things, as the Maillard reaction involves amino acids. The process of the reaction creates thousands of different flavour compounds, which in turn create more flavour compounds. That’s what roasted, toasted, and browned things have more flavour than their raw counterparts.

Back to brown butter. When added to cream, egg yolks, and sugar, it becomes something extraordinary. It’s creamy, nutty, smooth, and downright decadent. I mean, brown butter and ice cream, together. Really. I’ve gone a bit far here, don’t you think?

Just kidding. Not too far at all. 

Brown Butter Ice Cream
Recipe from Frozen Desserts

Brown Butter

200 g unsalted butter, soft

Ice Cream

686 g skim milk
160 g sugar
74 g egg yolks
80 g brown butter

For the brown butter, place the butter in a saucepan over high heat; melt and cook the butter until the milk solids start to caramelize. They will smell like toasted hazelnuts (which is why brown butter is also known as "beurre noisette").

Cool the butter to room temperature.

Place the milk in a saucepan along with half of the sugar (80 g). Place over high heat and stir to dissolve some of the sugar. While this mix comes to a boil, place the egg yolks and the remainder of the sugar (80 g) in a bowl. Whisk until it becomes a uniform mass.

Once the liquid comes to a boil, slowly pour half of it into the egg yolk-sugar mixture while whisking constantly. Once half of the liquid has been tempered with the egg yolk-sugar mixture, pour the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan while whisking constantly and turn the heat down to medium or medium-low. Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 76 C/ 170 F. At this temperature, the mixture reaches a consistency called nappe, or "coat".

Add the brown butter to the ice cream base when it is just made and it is still hot. Add the brown butter in liquid form, not when it is solid. Whisk thoroughly to completely incorporate the brown butter.

Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer and cool over an ice bath. Once it has come to room temperature, transfer to a clean bowl, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skim from forming, and refrigerate overnight. 

Once the base has aged, strain again through a fine-mesh strainer. Churn to the ice cream according to the manufacturers instructions.

Place into a pre-chilled container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent freezer burn. Freeze until hard, at least 2 hours.