My friend P and I always approached cooking with a certain level of fascination… or fanaticism? We cooked together often when I lived in Brooklyn, selecting recipes that often eluded us and tackling them together, with support. Lobster bisque was a biggie as was the Lady M Mille Crepe Cake. Raviolis. Cinnamon Rolls. If my memory serves me right, we also discovered how to brown butter together. I remember us standing over a pan, the nutty smell wafting towards our noses and wondering “why don’t we brown butter for everything?!”

Distance has unfortunately separated our cooking endeavors and often, when I’m searching for a recipe, the stars align and I am instantly transported back to those small kitchens. Dusted with flour. Wine. Herb(s). A soft couch. A warm belly.

As was the case when I came across the recipe for a Brown Butter Cake with Brown Butter Icing. I was in search for something simple for a cookout, my baking supplies and temperament being limited. I immediately felt softer when I read this recipe without really knowing why. I made into cupcakes to lessen the cooking time. Doubled the icing.

The slightly adapted recipe from the Serious Eats website below. To make into cake form, I would use a standard Bundt cake form – bake for 30 minutes and then an additional 20 or so minutes after covering with foil. See the original recipe here but proceed with caution on the size of the pan she states.

For the Cake:

·       1 1/4 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter

·       1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

·       5 large eggs, at room temperature

·       2 cups plus 2 1/2 teaspoons (about 10 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

·       1/2 teaspoon table salt

·       2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

·       1/2 cup minus 2 teaspoons whole milk

·       1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

·       1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

·       2 cup powdered sugar

·       10 teaspoons hot water

·       4 drops of vanilla extract


Make the cake

Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed and preferably light-colored saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until foaming subsides and butter starts to smell nutty and milk solids are a deep golden brown, about 5 minutes.

When browned, pour the butter into a heatproof bowl, scraping the milk solids off the bottom of the pan.

Allow the butter to cool to room temperature and place in refrigerator until firm (approximately 30-40 minutes) or place in freezer for 20 minutes.

While the butter cools combine flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and stir to combine. Combine the milk and vanilla in a separate bowl.

Prepare your cupcake tin with papers.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat the brown butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat until the mixture looks fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula every now and then. Once fluffy, add eggs one at a time, mixing well (about 2 minutes) after each addition. Continue scraping the bowl every so often,

Once all the eggs have been incorporated, add half the flour mixture to the mixer and fold with a rubber spatula until somewhat incorporated. Mix on medium speed until the batter looks smooth. Add the milk mixture and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix well, 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture looks smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl one last time.

Spoon batter into cupcake papers. I filled to the top for slightly larger cupcakes. Rap the pan sharply on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 15 minutes and see if a toothpick comes out clean. I needed 17 minutes for mine. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes in the pan before putting cupcakes on a wire rack. Allow cake to cool to room temperature before frosting.

Make the Frosting (I made the frosting while the brown butter for the cake was cooling)


Brown the butter, following the process explained in steps 1 and 2. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until incorporated. Add the water one teaspoon at a time (mixing well after each addition). Add vanilla and whisk until the mixture looks smooth.

Spread icing on top of cupcakes in a thin-ish layer. Place cupcakes in the refrigerator until the frosting has firmed up, about 20 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

I topped with caramel crunchies.