A few years ago, my husband asked me to make a dessert for an office holiday party. At that time, I rarely ever cooked let alone baked. So, I decided that I would doctor up box mix brownies with some peanut butter chips. The box mix that I chose called for a good amount of oil. All I had in the pantry, other than some olive oil, was a five year old bottle of vegetable oil. It seemed to smell a little funky but I thought, "I've never heard of oil going bad" and used it anyway. This was not one of my better ideas. The brownies came out extremely oily and smelled really bad -- it was like they came out of the oven already stale! Needless to say, my husband did not win "best dessert" that year at his office party. Since then, I enjoyed the occasional decadent Fat Witch brownie but never really thought to try to bake my own. All that changed when I ran into this recipe from David Lebowitz. Not only were David's pictures irresistible, he also included a great touch -- homemade dulce de leche!
The Amateur Gourmet has a great post about how easy it is to make the dulce de leche. It really is a foolproof recipe -- I could not stop sneaking little tastes of the dulce de leche before I dolloped it into the brownie batter. As for the brownies themselves, they were very tasty and not too sweet because I used bittersweet chocolate. Make sure to store the brownies in an airtight container so they do not dry out. Enjoy!
Dulce de Leche Brownies
8 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped (I omitted this)
1 cup Dulce de Leche (or Cajeta)
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. Line a 8-inch square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. If it doesn't reach all the way up and over all four sides, cross another sheet of foil over it, making a large cross with edges that overhang the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.
3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. Mix in the nuts, if using.
4. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.
5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
Makes about 12 brownies.
Dulce de Leche
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
2. Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) into a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. Stir in a few flecks of sea salt.
3. Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.
4. Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 to 1¼ hours. (Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary).
5. Once the Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk until smooth.
6. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using.