Very early tomorrow morning will see me jetting off from the UK back to my homeland. Except I’m not just going back to Canada, I’m going to Vancouver for the very first time! I am so over the top excited, people! Can we all give a big cheer? YAY!
Ahem. Sorry. Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I’ll get on to the baking part of this blog. Going away often means having increasingly random meals as you creatively cobble together dinner from those left over ingredients that need to get used up. The same goes for baking, although thankfully most of the time baking ingredients are not perishable.
Still, that was my excuse for making these brownies and I think it’s as good an excuse as any. :D In truth, only the butter and eggs in these brownies really needed using up, but I just happened to have condensed milk and some dark chocolate in my closet (yes, closet – not enough room in my cupboard in the kitchen for everything, so I also have a baking closet). Condensed milk is normally abysmally expensive, but about six weeks ago it went on sale, so of course I bought four cans. Stock up whilst you can! This same philosophy ended with me buying six cans of canned pumpkin from Aldi when I discovered they had it about three weeks ago. There will be pumpkin pie galore this fall!
Dulce de leche is one of the best foods on earth. I love the sweet caramel that is just so unbelievably thick and smooth. It’s not like caramel that you cook over the stove, which is usually much runnier and stickier by comparison. Dulce de leche will easily hold it’s shape when scooped out of the can (and into my mouth…). Best of all, it is extremely simple to make: all you need is a tin of condensed milk, a deep pot full of water, and a bit of bravery. It took me about two years to pluck up enough courage to attempt boiling my first tin of condensed milk. If you google “how to make dulce de leche”, there are many websites with instructions, but all with dire warnings about tins exploding if you let the water boil down too far. Thankfully, I found I had nothing to fear if I checked on it about every 15 minutes and had a jug of water nearby to easily top up the pot.
The brownies themselves… well. I think I need a moment to myself before I start talking about them. They are that good. The brownies are fudgey, full of dark chocolate, and very sophisticated. And yet even they are taken to the next level of “Oh my god, yes” when you suddenly bite into a pocket of smooth, creamy dulce de leche. These brownies should come with an “under 18″ parental advisory (maybe mostly because the adults will want to hog them for themselves ;) ). I ate mine after it had been chilled in the fridge overnight and it was divine, but I think they would also be incredibly delicious served slightly warm with a cheeky scoop of ice cream. Just a suggestion.
If you want a brownie recipe to impress, this is it. Fact.
Dulce De Leche Brownies
makes one 8×8″ pan (16 brownies)
- 125g unsalted butter
- 200g 70% dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 150g white sugar
- 50g light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g plain or all-purpose flour
- 1 tin of dulce de leche (see below for instructions)
- Preheat the oven to 175C/350F. Grease a 8″x8″ square baking tin and line with baking parchment (greasing the tin helps the baking paper stick to it).
- Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Once melted, set aside.
- Using a wire whisk, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick and creamy. It should be able to easily coat the back of a spoon.
- Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs mixture and slowly fold it in using a rubber spatula. The mixture should gradually thicken and become glossier.
- Sift in the flour and salt and fold in until just combined.
- Pour half of the brownie batter into the prepared pans. Using a spoon, dollop 2/3s of the dulce de leche evenly over the brownies. Use a butter knife to gently swirl the dulce de leche.
- Top with the remaining brownie batter. Spoon dollops of the remaining dulce de leche on top and again swirl slightly with a butter knife.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into pieces.
Dulce de Leche
You will need:
- 1 tin of condensed milk (e.g. Carnation)
- 1 deep medium sized pot
- water (+ a jug)
- Put the tin of condensed milk on it’s side inside the pot. Fill the pot with water so that the tin is covered, ideally by at least an inch of water. If you’re pot is deep enough, you can stand the can upright, but I needed to place it on it’s side so that it was adequately covered.
- Bring the water to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 2 – 2.5 hours. Top up the water each time you check it (every 15 min or so) so that the tin remains covered by a good inch of water.
- Let cool completely before opening the tin.
WARNING: Keep checking on it as it simmers away. DO NOT let the water evaporate so that the can is exposed to the air. This could result in the tin EXPLODING. Needless to say, a can of exploding molten caramel is very dangerous and I will say in advance that you do this at your own risk! (Really it’s quite safe, but I feel compelled to write this warning)