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Brown Butter Cupcakes with Jaggery & White Chocolate

Brown Butter Cupcake cut in half.

Cupcakes | 11th June 2014 | By

These brown butter cupcakes are a little unusual, but so very good. They’re made with browned butter, white chocolate and jaggery which give delicious caramel overtones. The icing is also made with browned butter and jaggery, but it’s not your standard buttercream frosting. It’s smoother and less sugary.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I made Nigella’s burnt butter cupcakes using jaggery instead of the prescribed sugar. They have lived on in my memory ever since as one of the most delicious cakes I’ve eaten. The reason I haven’t made them subsequently is because on the rare occasion I visit an asian shop, I forget to look out for jaggery.

What’s Jaggery?

Jaggery is one of the most natural and least harmful forms of sugar and is traditionally eaten on the Indian subcontinent. Natural cane juice is dehydrated and formed into blocks. It has a slightly fudgy texture and a unique caramel flavour. It is also high in minerals and has a much lower GI than refined sugar.

When I’m trying to reduce my sugar intake, I’ll often use rapadura. I find this easier to get hold of than jaggery, but it doesn’t have those same caramel notes.

What’s Brown Butter?

Brown butter, also known as burnt butter or browned butter is a lot nicer than it sounds. It’s also very simple to make. You just need to melt unsalted butter in a pan, then let it simmer slowly until the solids drop to the bottom of the pan and start to brown. You can then use it as is, or filter out the browned bits of butter and use the clarified butter alone.

The French name for brown butter sums it up very nicely. Beurre noisette, means “nutty butter” and nutty is just how it tastes. It’s a key ingredient in traditional madeleines as well as various pastries and sauces. I really like brown butter and I’ve used it a number of times. Specifically in these recipes for basbousa and blackberry & apple pancakes with brown buttered cobnuts.

Random Recipes

Random Recipes has reached the grand old age of 40 this month (months, not years), so Dom has ingeniously tasked us with finding our 40th recipe book and cooking whatever comes up on page 40. I can’t tell you how delighted I was when I got burnt butter cupcakes from Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. Doubly delighted because I had recently come across some jaggery and bought it with the very intention of trying these cakes out once again.

White Chocolate & Jaggery Brown Butter Cupcakes

Because I needed to get some chocolate into the bake and wanted to use jaggery, the recipe for the cake is almost completely different from the original. You can substitute the jaggery for regular brown sugar, but I highly recommend using jaggery if you can.

Brown Butter Cupcake

The recipe for the icing is quite different. I was intrigued recently when I saw a recipe for old fashioned flour frosting over at Delightful Repast. This is a basic sweetened white sauce which is then whipped up with butter and uses a lot less sugar than buttercream. This was my chance to try it out using burnt butter of course.

I ended up adding some extra milk as I thought the mixture was too thick. As it turned out, I’d added a little too much so my icing didn’t hold its nicely piped shape. Or perhaps my impatience got the better of me as it firmed up later – I live and learn! I haven’t included the additional milk in the recipe.

Despite the disappointment of the shapeless icing, I was really pleased with its taste and mouthfeel. Smooth, creamy and quite delicious, it was not nearly as sweet as your average buttercream can be. I shall most certainly be trying this again. The cupcakes were nearly as good as I remembered them. But time, like absence, tends to make the memory fonder.

The burnt butter worked a treat in both the cakes and the frosting. They were rich, caramelly and delectable.

Other Cupcake Recipes You Might Like

For even more cupcake recipes, take a look at my cupcake category.

Keep in Touch

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make these brown butter cupcakes, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.

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Brown Butter Cupcakes

Brown Butter Cupcakes – The Recipe

Brown Butter Cupcake
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5 from 1 vote

Brown Butter Cupcakes

Made with browned butter, white chocolate and jaggery which give delicious caramel overtones to these cakes. The tops are iced with old fashioned flour frosting which is smooth, not overly sweet and delectable.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Afternoon Tea, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: British
Keyword: cupcakes, frosting, icing, jaggery, white chocolate
Servings: 6 cupcakes


Brown Butter Cupcakes

  • 75 g unsalted butter
  • 65 g jaggery
  • 25 g white chocoalte - finely grated (I used Mortimer’s white couverture powder)
  • 2 small eggs or 1 extra large (I used a duck egg)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 90 g flour - half wholemeal , half plain
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Old-Fashioned Flour Frosting

  • 75 g unsalted butter
  • 45 g unbleached plain flour
  • 100 ml milk
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 50 g jaggery


Brown Butter Cupcakes

  • Melt the butter in a pan over a moderate heat then allow to bubble for a few minutes until the butter smells nutty and flecks of brown appear. You want the flecks (butter solidto get fairly brown, but not burnt.
  • Sieve the butter into a large bowl to clarify it and discard the brown solids.
  • Add the jaggery and white chocolate to the melted butter. This allows the chocolate to melt, the jaggery to soften and the butter to firm up. Leave for about 10 minutes.
  • Cream the butter, jaggery & chocolate together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.
  • Sieve in the flour and baking powder.
  • Stir in as gently as possible followed by 1 tbsp water.
  • Spoon into 6 cupcake cases and bake at 180℃ (350℉, Gas 4) for 20 minutes.

Old-Fashioned Flour Frosting

  • Melt the butter in a pan over a moderate heat then allow to bubble for a few minutes until the butter smells nutty and flecks of brown appear. You want the flecks (butter solidto get fairly brown, but not burnt.
  • Sieve the butter to clarify it and discard the brown solids. Leave to cool and solidify.
  • Meanwhile whisk the flour, milk and salt together in a pan until there are no lumps.
  • Add the jaggery and cook over a low heat whisking all the time until the mixture is very thick. Leave to cool.
  • Cream the butter until light then beat in the custard. Beat until it has the consistency of whipped cream.
  • Leave for ten minutes or so in a cool place to firm up, then pipe onto the cupcakes.


You can substitute the jaggery for regular brown sugar, but I highly recommend using jaggery if you can.
Double the quantity to make 12 cupcakes.


  1. Baking Addict

    11th June 2014 at 7:50 am

    I’ve never heard of jaggery before – will have to look out for it. I love burnt butter cakes though and this looks really tasty. Plus you can’t really go wrong with a Nigella recipe!

    • Choclette

      12th June 2014 at 2:32 pm

      Thanks Ros, I’ve only seen jaggery in Asian shops. As for your last point, it depends whether you stick to the recipe or not 😉

  2. Lucy Corry - The Kitchenmaid

    11th June 2014 at 8:24 am

    I’ve always been intrigued by that kind of icing but never been brave enough to make it. The cupcakes themselves look fantastic, such a beautiful texture and fine crumb. I never would have thought of baking with jaggery before, now I’ll look out for it!

    • Choclette

      12th June 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Ob be brave Lucy, there is so much less sugar needed than in buttercream icing and it has a lovely texture – well I liked it anyway. The cake itself is delish.

  3. Laura Denman

    11th June 2014 at 8:30 am

    These look and sound delicious. So simple but effect – they look perfect!

    • Choclette

      12th June 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks Laura – not the most simple of icings or cake come to that, but a bit of burnt butter does wonders for added flavour.

  4. belleau kitchen

    11th June 2014 at 8:55 am

    omg that book was number 41 on my bookshelf… how funny I hadn’t event thought of the possibility of people doing the same recipe… anyway, this looks breathtaking. I LOVE the idea of the burnt butter, it sounds divine!… love that I could help you achieve your goals through random recipes.. brilliant entry, thank you x

    • Choclette

      12th June 2014 at 2:36 pm

      You mean we very nearly got the same recipe? That would have been interesting. Often think it would be fun to all have a go at making the same recipe.

  5. prachi agarwal

    11th June 2014 at 4:55 pm

    love the chocolate cupcake

  6. Nayna Kanabar

    11th June 2014 at 6:33 pm

    What a lovely idea to use jaggery in a cake.It sounds divine.

    • Choclette

      12th June 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Thanks Nayna, jaggery gives a deeper fudgier flavour, which I really like. How do you use it?

  7. Kate Glutenfreealchemist

    11th June 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Sounds and looks wonderful. I really like the ‘shapeless’ icing. So much more original and looks mouthwateringly creamy. I saw the photo and thought they were meant to be like that!

    • Choclette

      12th June 2014 at 2:38 pm

      You say the nicest things Kate 🙂

  8. Jacqueline Meldrum

    12th June 2014 at 8:55 am

    Oh yum they look good! I’m liking Dom’s new logo too.

    • Choclette

      12th June 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Yes, updating logos seems to be a 2014 phenomena, but it does look good.

  9. Bintu @ Recipes From A Pantry

    12th June 2014 at 8:36 am

    I really like the sound of burnt butter and on a cup cake too.

    • Choclette

      12th June 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Burnt butter is great stuff Bintu – nice with vegetables as well as baking.

  10. Alison

    12th June 2014 at 11:31 am

    They look lovely. I have never heard of jaggery before, how interesting

  11. Jean |

    12th June 2014 at 1:56 pm

    That lovely cupcake photo makes me want to grab one and pour another cup of tea! I love that word ‘jaggery’ — a new word for me. In the US it is just called evaporated cane juice — not nearly as colorful a name! And instead of ‘burnt’ butter, we say ‘browned’ or ‘brown’ butter. Whatever they’re called, I like both! Have posted a few browned butter recipes, I think. It’s a whole ‘nother flavor, isn’t it! Sometimes I like to make just a small recipe of cupcakes and frosting, as you have here. When I make a half recipe of the flour frosting, I use 100 g sugar, 25 g flour, 118 ml milk and 112 g butter. I think most people here tend to make big batches (2 dozen) cupcakes. Thanks for the mention and link!

  12. Janelle Shank

    12th June 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I think I like it called burnt butter better than what we call it “brown butter” I love a good cupcake.

  13. Laura-Faerie

    12th June 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I’ve learned a Lot from this post, so thank you! Burnt butter cupcakes sound just delicious!

  14. Trinity Axelson

    12th June 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Yum yum yum yum yum these look good!!!! I have never heard of Jaggery before, however this recipe may just prompt me to try cooking with it!!!


  15. Kate Hackworthy

    12th June 2014 at 7:01 pm

    I’d heard of jaggery from Deena Kakaya, but haven’t tried it. I must! Your cupcakes sound great and I’m going to try that icing recipe. x

  16. Sarah Bates

    13th June 2014 at 2:45 am

    These are beautiful cupcakes and they sound delicious! I’ll need to go on a hunt for jaggery. 🙂


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