We love the traditional little teapot known as the "Brown Betty" -- we love it so much that in case you hadn't noticed, it's part of our logo! The story behind this teapot is just as charming as the little round pot itself, and quite historic. First made in the seventeenth century, they were made with a red clay discovered in the Stoke-on-Trent area of Britain. When the clay was shaped and fired, the resulting ceramic seemed to hold heat better — perfect for keeping tea warm. Although originally the pots were tall and thinner like coffee pots, their rounded shape was developed in the nineteenth century. As love for tea began to peak during the Victorian era, tea served in Brown Betty pots was considered excellent, since it could be swirled in the pot and release more flavor with less bitterness. That traditional color of the pot comes from a manganese glaze known as Rockingham glaze.
A traditional tea time with a Brown Betty teapot calls for a little nibble, and reminds of us the wonders of brown butter, with which you can make some amazing treats. Brown butter is simply butter that has been melted and cooked until the water evaporates and the milk solids begin to toast and brown to a state of nutty perfection. It's the sort of ingredient that take many recipes from "oh, that's good" to "oh, how is it possible that this tastes so flippin' good??"
You can make some wonderful savory dishes with brown butter, but we figure you're not as likely to sit down with your Brown Betty teapot and a plate of brussel sprouts with brown butter and sage (although trust us, that's delicious), as you are to share Brown Butter Pecan Shortbread at your next tea party, informal or formal. Here's the recipe, thanks to The Los Angeles Times.
Makes about 24 cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, divided
- 1 cup pecans
- 2 cups (8.5 ounces) flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons turbinado or other coarse sugar
- 2 teaspoons fleur de sel (or any sea salt. Kosher salt in a pinch.)
- Melt one stick of butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until the milk solids have turned a rich brown color and the butter smells nutty. Watch carefully so it doesn't burn. Cool in a small bowl and then chill for a couple of hours in the fridge. Leave the second stick of butter out at room temperature.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for a few minutes until they are fragrant and darker in color. Cool, then finely grind using a food processor (be careful not to overwork the pecans, or they will turn to a butter).
- Sift together the flour and salt in a separate bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream the browned and regular butters together with the brown sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and pecans and beat until well combined. Add half the flour until just combined, and then the rest of the flour. Don't overbeat at this point. The dough will be kind of shaggy.
- Dump the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper and gather into a large ball. Cut the ball in half and use wax paper or plastic wrap to form logs 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Mix together turbinado sugar and fleur de sel, and roll the logs in the mixture, pressing it into the dough. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the logs crosswise into one-fourth-inch rounds. Space the cookies approximately 2 inches apart on a parchment- or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet. Bake until set and lightly colored around the edges, about 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
- The cookies will be very delicate just out of the oven. Cool them on the baking sheet before removing.
Personally, we think the subtle astringency of some Darjeeling tea would be a good pairing with these rich cookies, but then again, we'd be hard pressed to come up with a tea that wouldn't work well. Cheers, tea lovers!