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Butter is an inevitable ingredient in most of dessert recipes. By definition, ghee is just clarified butter, but to me, the taste is completely different. The taste of butter is more close to heavy cream, while that of ghee is more close to cooking oil (at least to my tongue).

Is it good to use ghee instead of butter in dessert and pastry recipes`? Doesn't it ruin the taste to be far from the original standard?

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@MartinTurjak this comment is probably the best answer the OP can get, as it really depends on the recipe and the audience's expectations. I would suggest writing it as an answer. A small thing to add - in recipes where the fat ratio is important, ghee (which is 100% fat) can ruin the ratio because butter is 83% fat. –  rumtscho Jul 18 '13 at 13:16
    
If the exact fat content of the butter is important for the result, using different brands of butter may also ruin the result. Some countries have regulated a minimum milk fat content in butter (USA: 80%, EU: 82%), but butter may have a higher fat content that what's required to call it butter. –  Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jul 18 '13 at 16:37

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

moved here from a comment:

Ghee does have a different aroma and consistency, so, depending on the use of it in the recipe (wether it is used for frying or in the frosting for example), it will quite likely change the final result.

So in some cases substituting butter with some neutral flavored oil or margarine might be better than ghee. Which, I know, might not help if ghee is all you've got.

Also wanted to include what @rumtscho adds in the comment above:

in recipes where the fat ratio is important, ghee (which is 100% fat) can ruin the ratio because butter is 83% fat.

And as to standards, they can be quite relative (making something that tastes slightly different doesn't necessarily ruin it) ... if you are making the desert for an indian audience, using clarified butter might taste quite normal =)

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Ghee is basically clarified butter. If a dessert recipe calls for "butter" then it's probably not going to work. If it calls for cold butter cut in pieces... it definitely will not work. If a recipe calls for melted butter... you'll be ok.. use a touch less and add a splash of cream. Ghee is butter with the milk solids removed.

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I used ghee in an icing recipe because I ran out of butter, and the texture was all wrong. Added a little milk after reading this and boom - the texture immediately improved. Some of the fat content separated, but I just poured it off and the icing was fine. I can recommend the combination of ghee and milk as a good substitution, at least for icings.

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Hello, and welcome to the site! We generally express thanks with upvoting only (you will be able to upvote with a little bit of reputation) and delete thanks-only answers. Yours also contained valuable information about a working substitution which is not so explicitely described in the other answers, so I edited it to leave that part only. –  rumtscho Nov 27 '13 at 17:36

No, ghee cannot be used in place of butter, because ghee is clarified. This removes the water from the butter, which is a key component of butter when used in baking. The water evaporating and creating steam pockets gives a lot of foods their fluffy texture. The removal of the water would create a lot of issues in getting your desserts to come out right, even if the taste of ghee was similar to that of butter (which it is not)

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Can you point to further sources about the evaporating water theory? It doesn't fit with what I remember about rising mechanisms. Also, I'm quite sure I've eaten steam-leavened food (like Danish pastry) with a substitute fat which does not have water. –  rumtscho Dec 11 at 6:20

Ghee doesn't work well with the oven nor microwave. I suggest you use real butter store-bought and walk some extra miles if you don't want to gain weight.

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-1: None of this answer makes sense. Ghee is "real butter", it's just clarified. There's no reason why it would work worse than butter in an oven - in fact it can withstand very high heat without burning. (While the milk solids in the butter will in fact burn.) And their impact on your weight / health is probably comparable as well. Are you sure you're not confusing ghee with margarine? –  millimoose Nov 24 '13 at 17:08

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