Clarified butter comes in handy in a lot of different places. Since it has a higher smoking point than regular butter, recipes often call for it when you need to cook over very high heat. It's also great to use clarified butter to brush over pastries as a dorure because it will help the crust brown evenly without any dark spots.
What exactly is clarified butter and how do you make it? Read on!
Butter is made up of three different parts: butterfat, casein, and whey. The casein and whey contain the solid milk particles that scorch more easily. These are both are removed when you clarify butter, leaving you with pure butterfat.
To clarify butter, heat a half a pound or more of unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once it melts completely, continue simmering until you see white foam (the casein) start to rise to the surface. The whey will settle on the bottom as milky sediment, leaving a middle layer of golden butterfat. Skim the foam as it rises and discard.
When no more foam is coming to the surface, take the butter off of the heat. Pour it gently into a heat-proof container and leave the whey in the pan. Discard the whey and allow the clarified butter to cool before refrigerating.
Alternatively, once you've finished skimming off the foam. Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool. Cover the pan and refrigerate until the butter is solid. At this point, you can scrape away the clarified butter, leaving behind the whey.
Clarified butter is similar to ghee, which has been cooked slightly longer after the casein and whey have been removed. Clarified butter keeps for much longer than regular butter--about two months in the fridge. Since it takes a little time and patience to make, we like to make large batches and keep it in an old yogurt container on the fridge.
(Photo Credit: Land-O-Lakes)