Things I Know 327 of 365: The sweet spot is in the browning, not the burning

A life lesson from baking.

Yesterday’s cookie recipe included the following direction:

To make icing, melt the butter in a skillet over low heat and swirl the pan over the heat for about four-five minutes until butter begins to brown. Be careful, you don’t want to burn the butter—you just want to brown it! It will happen fast and when it does, immediately take the browned butter off the stove and pour into a mixing bowl.

My beliefs about butter were challenged. I’ve whipped butter, cut it in, and melted it. This is to say nothing of the more pedestrian spreading of butter. To my mind, I’d pushed butter to its limits.

This was new.

Melt it, heat it, take butter to the brink. The key, don’t burn the butter. Watch for the line separating making something new and making something useless.

That idea appeals to me.

Think differently about what can be done, what things and people are capable of, but remain mindful of the burning. For Icarus, the lesson came with flight. For me, it came with a cookie recipe.