Every once in a while, I come across food that results in a speechless but meaningful emitting of, well, sounds. Something so delicious that all I can say is “Mmmm” or “Ooooooh” or some combination of guttural responses. I do this every time I pass the nearby Spanish restaurant because of the air vents that spew out smells of rotisserie chicken. I inhale that stuff like a repressed meat-loving vegetarian.

When I was little, I used to come up with all sorts of “What if” scenarios, and one of them was, “If I had to give up one of the five senses, what would it be?” I chose smell, because it seemed like the least important. Maybe it is, but then when I was in high school, and my little cousin accidentally banged her head into my nose and I couldn’t smell for over a month, it devastated me. I didn’t tell anyone unless someone would project something about a smell in the air and I would laughingly say, “Yeah, I lost my sense of smell,” all the while having a lot of anxiety over never regaining it. Fortunately, I did, and I’ve been treasuring my sense of smell ever since. Gosh I really do hope I never have to choose among the five senses.

One of my favorite smells that I was late to discover is that of burnt butter. Melting butter is divine as it is, but with a little more heating, the burnt-ness gives off a delicate smokiness. Sometimes I get a hankering to burn some butter just because; luckily I have a lot of recipes at hand so that I don’t have to waste the process. Recently I wrote a post for Guidespot called How to be a Domestic Goddess in New York and that inspired me to pick a new recipe from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook of the same name. My friends, I hereby give you Burnt-Butter Brown-Sugar Cupcakes, up there in my top 5 cupcakes of all time.

I definitely made a deep, guttural “Mmmmm” followed by actual words (!), “Ohmygod these are good.” Click below for the recipe!

Ingredients for Cupcakes

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup self-rising cake flour (NOT all-purpose)
3 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 tbsp milk

Ingredients for Icing

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 2/3 to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 400F. First off is burning the butter: place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until it turns a dark golden color (3-5 minutes). Take the pan off the heat and strain into a bowl (to separate from the sediment). Let the butter sit until it solidifies, but is still a little soft. (This took almost 30 minutes because it’s hot here; if hot out, put in the fridge for about 10 minutes).

When the butter is solid, yet soft, place in a food processor along with ALL cupcake ingredients except milk. Blitz! Add milk slowly and pulse till well-mixed. Divide among 12 cupcake papers and bake for 15-20 minutes.

For the icing, do the same thing with the butter that you did above. Once it’s in the solid/soft state, beat it along with 1/2 of the sugar until stiff. Add tbsps of milk and the rest of the sugar alternately. Then add the vanilla. Ice those puppies and EAT EAT EAT!