A Little Nut Brown Butter?



A while ago now, I discovered that you could caramelise butter to produce a deeply nutty, salty, version of its cool mild self. Drizzled over a soup, Turkish style, this nut brown butter adds a depth and savouriness; a fabulous counterpoint to chilli flakes, yoghurt and fresh lemon juice or the clean herbal notes of coriander. Included in a butter icing it takes on the smoky caramel notes of butterscotch. Added to cakes and breads it gives a wonderful rounded flavour that is harder to identify, but definitely there, warm, almost like wheat germ oil.

Lying in bed one morning contemplating swinging my legs out of the warm covers and pulling on a pair of knee high striped socks, I had one of those sensory premonitions that suggest how something might taste. Like a moment of synaesthesia my mouth sensed brazil nuts as my mind thought 'nut brown butter'. Without bothering to rummage for anything resembling day wear, I hastened to the kitchen and threw some butter in a pan, digging the Brazil nut meal out of the freezer whilst the butter sizzled, spat and underwent a touch of culinary alchemy.

I was right, my mouth was right! These muffins are a deliciously bready, nutty breakfast comfort. They are not cakes, but neither do they need augmenting with butter and jam. Just put the kettle on, crease open your novel and hope the neighbours don't mind you cooking in your underwear.

Nut Brown Brazil Butter Muffins (makes 10 large ones)

4oz unsalted butter
4 large eggs
6 tbs maple syrup (English dessert spoons)
2 1/2 cups Brazil nut meal (or Brazils ground fine)
1/2 cup millet flour
Large pinch of salt
2 tsp xanthan gum (2 tsp gelatine powder)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbs lemon juice (2 English dessert spoons)
4 tbs water or milk


Preheat the oven to 160C fan assisted (180C if not). Fill a muffin tray with paper cases.

Fill the sink with a few inches of cold water. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over a high heat, stirring constantly until a golden brown sediment forms on the bottom of the pan. Don't let it get too dark or the butter will taste burnt. When it's ready, plunge the bottom of the pan into the sink of cold water and leave until the butter has cooled to luke warm.

Into the pan of nut brown butter add the maple syrup, lemon juice and break in the eggs. Whisk, or beat until smooth and thick.

Put the Brazil nut meal into a large mixing bowl and sift all the remaining dry ingredients on top. Fold in the butter mixture and extra milk or water until just combined and spoon evenly into the cases.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and springy to the touch. Cool on a rack until warm and freeze any that are left over after breakfast.