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TIP OF THE DAY: Brown Butter, Black Butter & How To Use Them

[1] Chocolate chip cookies are even better with brown butter (photo © Bella Baker).

[2] Brown Butter Parmesan Pasta. Here’s the recipe (photo Joe Lingeman | © The Kitchn).

[3] Brown butter can be used as an ingredient, for sautéeing, or as a sauce (photos #3 and #4 © Go Bold With Butter).

[4] It’s easy to make brown butter. When it’s light golden brown, it’s ready.


Brown butter, or beurre noisette, meaning hazelnut butter in French, is a butter sauce used in French cuisine.

It is used to give a dish a deeper, richer, more intense flavor than is provided by simpled melted or clarified butter.

Butter is heated until it reaches a deep yellow, almost brown color, and develops a nutty scent (hence, “hazelnut butter,” even though no nuts are involved).

  • It is a popular way to sauté and sauce fish, meat, omelets, pasta, poultry, vegetables; and on the sweet side, fruit.
  • It is also used in making French pastry like financiers and madeleines.
    Instructions to make brown butter are below.

    Black butter is actually dark brown, and brown butter is actually deep yellow, almost brown.

    Both variations are cooked over low heat The difference between brown butter and black butter is how long the butter is cooked.

    For the cook, the question is: How deep do you want the nutty/toasty flavors?

    Both are made by cooking unsalted butter long enough to caramelize the milk solids and turn them brown. The process also cooks out the water present in the butter, to concentrate the flavor.

    As the butter melts, it separates into yellow butterfat and white milk solids. The heavier milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan.

    As the butter cooks, the milk solids begin to brown. When they reach the color desired by the cook, the pan is removed from the heat.

    If butter makes everything taste better, then brown butter makes everything taste even better than that. You get more richness without added calories.

    Add richer flavor to:

  • Baking: especially blondies, cookies, pound cake, tart pastry.
  • Bread spread: biscuits, toast.
  • Caper and/or anchovy sauce: blend in lemon juice and parsley to sauce eggs, fish and vegetables. A great brown butter sauce!
  • Crumble topping: Mix it in to crumbs or granola
  • Eggs: omelets, scrambles (we also use it for blintzes and crêpes).
  • Greens: substitute for olive oil when sautéeing chard, kale, spinach, etc.
  • Pancakes and waffles: add a bit to the batter, cook the pancakes in the butter.
  • Pan-toasted sandwiches: grilled cheese, croque monsieur
  • Pasta and rice for sauce, garnished with fresh herb, peas, bacon, whatever.
  • Popcorn.
  • Poultry and seafood: sautéed in brown butter or poured over as a sauce.
  • Potatoes: baked, boiled, mashed, roasted.
  • Rice and other grains: garnish.
  • Roasted vegetables: toss in brown butter before roasting.
  • Sautéed vegetables: beyond greens, memorable mushrooms and onions.
  • Shellfish: so much better than clarified butter for dipping.
  • Soup: drizzled garnish.

    Black butter is usually flavored with tarragon vinegar or lemon juice, capers and parsley and served as a sauce with:

  • Eggs: omelettes or scrambled eggs.
  • Calves’ brains: a dish, alas, that is not served much these days since the spread of Mad Cow Disease, but try it with lambs’ brains.
  • Skate: plus cod and other seafood.
    To look for black butter recipes online, search under the French term, beurre noir. There is a British spiced apple jam called black butter.

    Thanks to Go Bold With Butter for these easy steps.

    All you need is a unsalted butter and a skillet.

    Why not salted butter? Salted butter tends to foam more than unsalted butter, making it difficult to judge the color change.

    To watch the color change, see photo the strip of photos at the left.


    1. MELT the butter over medium heat. As the butter melts, gently swirl the pan to ensure the butter doesn’t burn.

    2. WATCH for the butter to splutter as the water cooks off. Stir frequently at this stage, when the butter begins to turn a light golden color.

    (The difference between splutter and sputter: Splutter means to spray droplets, while sputter refers to “spraying” when speaking.)

    3. TURN down the heat as the sputtering subsides and the butter will turn into a light foam.

    4. WATCH as the color begins to deepen into a golden color. Notice the small brown bits of milk solids developing at the bottom. You’re almost done!

    5. WATCH for the butter to turn a toasted brown color (photo #4). You’ll smell the nutty aroma. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the butter to a heat-proof bowl.

    6. COOL before adding to a recipe. Store in a tightly-lidded container in the fridge.




    HOLIDAY GIFT: Robert Lambert Fruitcake

    Even if you like fruitcake, the fruitcakes from Robert Lambert will raise the bar beyond any other fruitcake you’ve had.

    It is fruitcake for those in the know. It has nothing to do with the mass-produced versions loaded with neon candied fruit.

    Robert Lambert, a cookbook author and pastry chef, is one of America’s great food artisans. He has been one of our “food heros” since we met years ago.

    His products have been our Top Pick Of The Week more often than any other producer, including:

  • Chocolate Sauces
  • Fruitcakes
  • Fruit Syrups
  • Marmalades
  • Preserved Fruits<
    All of these products, sold on his website, are the best of their kind.

    Anything you purchase from Robert Lambert is a delicious treat for yourself, or for gifting.

    We’re focusing on the fruitcakes because they’re seasonal items, and they sell out quickly.

    So buy them now, even if you want them as Christmas or Thanksgiving gifts. The fruitcakes don’t go stale.

    Robert Lambert’s artisan fruitcake are made by loving hands by a gifted baker.

    As previously noted, these are the best fruitcakes you can buy. All of the candied fruit is made by hand. There’s nothing processed or artificial.

    Robert Lambert’s small-batch fruitcakes are made in Marin County, California, using local fruits and rare varieties he painstakingly sources.

    The main difference between his Dark/Winter fruitcake (photo #2) and the White fruitcake (photo #1) are the sugars.

    Traditional dark fruit cake is made with brown sugar and molasses. For those who don’t want molasses, white fruit cake is made with white granulated sugar.

    In fact, Mr. Lambert sells aged fruitcakes. In addition to purchasing the current 2019 “vintage,” you can also buy the rarer year-old aged cakes from 2018.

    Aged fruitcake? Yes, fruitcakes including figgy pudding are typically aged for five weeks or longer, so the flavors can meld.

    Then there’s extra-long aging. Mr. Lambert explains:

    “Over time the flavors radiate out from the moisture of the fruits and peels. They intersect, and form new flavor compounds. This intensifies the complexity.

    “In the 2-year-old cake (at the bottom of photo #2), that process is complete.”

    As with the 2019 vintage, the aged cakes are available in both Dark/Winter and White Fruitcakes*.

    Here’s a brief history of fruitcake.

    Robert has a boutique food operation in the San Francisco Bay area.

    Within an hour’s drive or so of the city, heritage fruits grow on trees that have been owned by families for generations.

    Robert Lambert buys some of those fruits, and creates marvellous products from them.

    As a tiny operation, Robert doesn’t have the time or marketing budget to improve his website, which is homespun and difficult to navigate.

    So your biggest challenge will be navigating the website. But once you do, it will be so worth it!

    Here are the direct links:

  • Chocolate Sauces (at bottom of page) (photo #4)
  • Fruitcakes
  • Fruit Syrups
  • Jams
  • Marmalades (photo #3)

    White Fruitcake
    [1] White fruitcake is made with white granulated sugar (photos #1 and #2 © Robert Lambert).

    Aged Fruitcake
    [2] Winter fruitcakes, made with brown sugar and molasses. Top: 2019. Middle: aged 1 year. Bottom: aged 2 years.

    [3] Blood Orange Marmalade, one of several great marmalades (photos #3 and #4 © The Nibble).

    [4] Robert Lambert Malted Milk Chocolate Sauce, one of several delicious flavors.




    PRODUCT OF THE WEEK: Wonderful Seedless Lemons

    [1] Seedless lemons from The Wonderful Company are a boon to bakers, cooks, and everyone who likes a squeeze of lemon on food and in drinks (both photos © Wonderful Citrus).

    [2] Look for this label in your grocery store.

    [3] Why squeeze pits along with the lemon juice (photo © The Fillmore | NYC [since closed])?

    [4] Who wants to sip around the pits (photo © Raw Pixel | Pexels).


    We love lemon: not just lemon-flavored foods and drinks, but the slices, wedges, or halves served with foods and drinks.

    When baking and cooking, 79% of responders to a survey* say they use lemons as an ingredient, and 73% use lemons for making drinks.

    There’s nothing like a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to perk up:

  • Cocktails
  • Green Salads & Fruit Salads
  • Soft Drinks, Water & Juice
  • Seafood
  • Tea
  • Vegetables
  • Vinaigrettes
    But oh, those pits! Who wants to pick them out of the food, or suck them up from a glass?

    A whopping 83% of those surveyed said they were likely to purchase seedless lemons.

    And now, you can buy seedless lemons!

    The Wonderful Company—sellers of POM Wonderful, FIJI Water, Wonderful Halos, Wonderful Pistachios and more—has introduced Wonderful Seedless Lemons, a naturally seedless, Non-GMO Project Verified variety of lemon.

    Wonderful Seedless Lemons, now rolling out in produce aisles at grocery stores nationwide and online at Amazon Fresh, is a welcome upgrade.

  • They’re just as juicy, aromatic and flavorful as conventional lemons, but without the annoyance of seeds.
  • They’re also larger, thinner-skinned and juicer than regular lemons [source].
  • They save you time in the kitchen, and they save pit-picking from served foods and beverages.
    They’re also a boon for chefs. “…if you’ve ever seen the face of a prep chef who’s been told to slice and seed a carton of lemons, you can imagine the potential,” says L.A. Times writer David Karp.

    The only fly in the lemon juice is that seedless lemons will command a 50% premium over regular lemons.

    But now that we’re headed into the biggest cooking and entertaining weeks of the year, don’t you deserve them?

    (And while the holiday season doesn’t coincide with the introduction of Wonderful Seedless Lemons, mark your calendar for August 29th, National Lemon Juice Day.)

    While other fruits have been bred to be seedless, the standard lemon varieties such as Eureka and Lisbon have been hard to crossbreed into a seedless variety†.

    The Wonderful Seedless Lemon was created in Queensland, Australia by a farmer who set out to create a seedless lemon using innovative breeding techniques‡.

    After a number of years, he finally found a seedless lemon tree in his orchard and began to grow them commercially.

    The Wonderful Company procured the exclusive North American rights to grow them, and Wonderful Seedless Lemons are now being introduced in the U.S. and Canada.

    For more information, visit


    *Results of a third-party study commissioned by The Wonderful Company that surveyed lemon buyers nationwide.

    †It’s because both lemons closely derive from one ancestor, a natural hybrid of citron and sour orange that originated thousands of years ago in northeastern India. Thus, new attributes from the DNA cross-breeding is limited./span>

    Almost all true lemons contain seeds, and although the number varies greatly from a few to dozens, depending on season and pollination, there’s no way to tell from the outside how many pips (the word for small, hard seeds) lie within.

    Some lemon trees occasionally develop natural mutations which can be seedless. Some 25 years ago, a few California growers planted a mutant variety called Seedless Lisbon that came from Australia. However, on average it bore a quarter less fruit than standard seeded lemons, so was not economically viable.

    Other growers around the world have attempted to grow seedless lemons, but until now, the seedless varieties proved insufficiently productive or shapely to compete with regular lemons [source].

    ‡For food geeks, here’s how it was done by the originator, 2PH Farms: Starting in the late 1990s with Eureka lemon bud sticks, wood for grafting was treated with gamma irradiation to induce mutations that rendered their progeny seedless. But of course, it took years of experimenting to get to commercially viable seedless lemons.


    CHRISTMAS GIFT: Advent Calendar From Woodhouse Chocolate

    Order quickly if you want this wonderful “Advent calendar”: Only 150 sets were made (photo #1).

    Unlike the old-fashioned Advent calendar where little doors were opened to reveal the day’s treat (photo #3), Woodhouse Chocolate’s 2019 version puts each treat in a separate, reusable tin.

    Each tin contains a wonderful chocolate surprise: hand-decorated chocolate figures, filled chocolates, hot chocolates, barks and mendiants (photo #2).

    The red gift box contains 25 tins, one for each day from December 1st through Christmas. The high-end box, with a magnetic closure, can be (and should be!) repurposed.

    To celebrate the Advent and count down each day with a wonderful array of Woodhouse chocolates, head to

    Today, most Advent calendars are made for children: large and festive rectangles of printed cardboard with a different window to be opened on each of the 24 days. The more elaborate versions have a small gift behind each door or drawer: a charm, a tiny toy, a piece of candy.

    But now there are also alcoholic versions. You can find beer Advent calendars at Aldi supermarkets and at Costco.

    There’s a wine Advent calendar with 24 compartments of wine from WSJ Wines.

    And here’s a selection of Advent calendars with beer, spirits and wine, recommended by Town & Country Magazine.

    Advent is from the Latin word adventus, means “coming.” It’s a time of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, on Christmas Day.

    A tradition begun by Lutherans in Germany, the first known Advent calendar dates to 1851. Its purpose: to count down the 24 days of December until Christmas.

    Most Advent calendars begin on December 1st, regardless of when Advent is celebrated in any particular year (it’s the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas, which can range from November 27th to December 3rd).

    Early Advent calendars were handmade. Some were strictly religious in nature; others were secular.

    Some involved affixing colored pictures to a piece of cardboard. Children’s versions had pieces of candy affixed to cardboard. Some have been handed down as treasured family heirlooms.

    The first printed Advent calendar was published in 1908, and the now-familiar versions followed, with windows that opened out of the cardboard to reveal a religious image, inspirational photo or, for children, a treat or a coin.


    [1] Woodhouse Chocolate’s elegant Advent calendar (photos #1 and #2 © Woodhouse Chocolate).

    [2] Mendiants are bars or disks of chocolate studded with nuts and dried fruits, with a religious significance. Here’s the scoop.

    [3] An old-fashioned Advent calendar. Each door reveals a small toy or piece of candy (photo © Neiman-Marcus).




    RECIPE: Party Mix Bars – Fun Snack Bars

    [1] Turn snack mix into party bars, with this recipe from Hannah Kaminsky’s new book, Sweet Vegan Treats (photo © Hannah Kaminsky).

    Original Chex Mix
    [2] Turn a party mix into the party bars above (photo © Chex).

    [3] A book for anyone interested in vegan desserts. including kosher and lactose-intolerant eaters),


    We love this recipe from NIBBLE contributor Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog.

    It ports the concept of a party mix (like Chex Mix) to a snack bar. Says Hannah:

    “Don’t drag out that tired old bag of snack mix; whip up a festive batch of bars liable to become the life of the party!

    “This sweet and salty treat takes shape as grabbable, munchable squares, rather than a handful of loose munchies, leaving less mess to collect between sofa cushions the next day.

    “Make it for a movie night, a game of Scrabble, video games, or just for hanging out with friends.”

    This recipe comes from Hannah’s new book, Sweet Vegan Treats.

    You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy every one of them. People who are kosher or lactose intolerant will also enjoy these non-dairy recipes.

    Non-vegans can use regular butter instead of vegan butter.

    If you want a nut-free recipe, substitute crispy dry roasted chickpeas and/or soybeans (edamame) instead.

    Ingredients For 20 To 24 Bars

  • 2 cups mini pretzel twists and/or sticks
  • 2 cups corn and/or wheat cereal squares
  • 3 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1-1/2 cups roasted and salted mixed nuts
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. COMBINE the pretzels, both types of cereal and nuts in a large bowl. Liberally coat a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set both aside.

    2. SET a medium saucepan over low heat melt the butter. Once it has liquefied, add the sugar and syrup, stirring as necessary until the sugar crystals dissolve.

    3. TURN up the heat and bring the mixture to a steady boil. Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until it appears to have thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the vanilla. Pour the contents over the dry mix and fold it in carefully but briskly, being careful not to crush the cereal.

    4. POUR everything into the prepared pan and gently press it out into an even layer. Let it cool completely before cutting into bars.




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