04
Aug
09

Dulce de Leche Brownies and Creme Brulee

Another week, another opportunity to find a recipe I truly love for its taste and simplicity.  I found just the thing last week with a new attempt at America’s favorite brownies.  Most people know that brownies generally fall into two categories: 1) fudgy and dense, or 2) light and cake-like.  The main difference stems on how the batter is put together.  Does the recipe call for melted butter + chocolate for a fudgy texture, or for cocoa powder and perhaps some extra flour or even baking powder to make it seem more like a chocolate flavored cake?  The recipe I followed generously compromised between both methods, resulting in a texture that almost everyone can enjoy.

But there’s got to be more to it than that, right?  Plain, simple brownies (while often delicious) seemed a bit boring for me at the time.  So why not give it an extra kick with some homemade dulce de leche?  For the unitiated, dulce de leche is a caramel-like sauce (with the consistency of peanut butter) that is particularly popular in places like Argentina and Brazil.  While it looks and tastes very similar to caramel, it is actually a product of the Maillard reaction (which is also the basis behind toast) instead of caramelization.  Ok ok, sounds really nerdy, but it’s actually very simple (and cheap) to make!  Sure, you CAN buy some pre-made dulce de leche in a can at some specialty marts, but why bother when all you need is a can of condensed milk (generally less than $1).

The best part is that this entire recipe doesn’t require much work or much money, yet tastes so good!  The only thing I’d recommend is using some good chocolate, and since it only requires 2 ounces, I don’t feel like that’s asking for too much 🙂

dulce de leche brownies

dulce de leche brownies

vanilla bean creme brulee

vanilla bean creme brulee

Dulce De Leche

  • 1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (I used Eagle brand)

There are several methods of making dulce de leche from a simple can of condensed milk, but I think this method is the simplest:
1.  Remove all the label and paper from the outside of the can.  Place in a medium saucepan and fill with water until the can is about 1/2 ~ 2/3 submerged.

2.  Heat the saucepan on medium-high heat until the water starts to boil.  When it’s boiling, reduce heat to low and make sure that the water is constantly simmering but does not overflow.

3.  Boil in this manner for 2-3 hours… the longer you boil, the thicker your dulce de leche sauce will be.  Flip over the can with tongs every 45 minutes.  Also make sure that the water never runs out… if the water starts evaporating and the saucepan is nearly empty, the can WILL explode!  Make sure to always keep the can 1/2 or 2/3 submerged!

4.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

dulce de leche

dulce de leche

Dulce De Leche Brownies

from Baking Bites

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2-oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche
  • ingredients

    ingredients

Directions
1.  Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.

2.  In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.  – You can do this either with a double boiler or in a microwave.  If heating in a microwave, heat only in short 15-20 second increments, and stir well to combine in between each nuke.  You do not want to overheat this!

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisking steadily, pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt into the bowl and stir until just combined.

4.  Pour brownie batter into prepared pan and top with dollops of dulce de leche. Using a butter knife, gently swirl the dulce de leche into the brownie batter.

brownie batter and dulce de leche

brownie batter and dulce de leche

swirl!

swirl!

5.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies set and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan comes out with only a few moist crumbs, not batter, attached.

finished brownies

finished brownies

6.  Cool in the pan completely before slicing and serving, either at room temperature or chilled.

I also had a sudden desire to make some creme brulee this weekend.  Although I would normally use the very dependable Dorie Greenspan recipes, I was kind of surprised that she did not require any water bath (which I almost always use for egg custards such as creme brulee).  I also wanted to use some fresh vanilla bean!  I then turned to a Tyler Florence recipe that was getting some nice reviews on several blogs.  However, I did have to bake this FAR longer than the recipe calls for, as the edges didn’t set until after 1.5 hours (probably because of the aluminum foil I placed on top of the ramekins to prevent browning).  And after chilling in the refrigerator for 3 hours, it was still a little runny.  However, after chilling them overnight, they were perfect!

Creme Brulee
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence and the Food Network

Ingredients

  • 9 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup superfine white sugar plus 6 tablespoons
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean

Directions
1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together egg yolks and sugar with a whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.

9 egg yolks

9 egg yolks

2.  Pour cream into a medium saucepan over low heat. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean down the middle, scrape out the seeds and add them to saucepan. Bring cream to a brief simmer, do not boil or it will overflow. Remove from heat and temper the yolks by gradually whisking the hot vanilla cream into yolk and sugar mixture. Do not add hot cream too quickly or the eggs will cook.

vanilla beans!

vanilla beans!

3.  Divide custard into 6 (6-ounce) ramekins, about 3/4 full. Place ramekins in a roasting pan and fill pan with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until barely set around the edges, about 40 minutes. You may want to cover loosely with foil to prevent browning (took me nearly 1 hr 30 min with the aluminum foil on top). Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

in the water bath

in the water bath

4.  Transfer the ramekins to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours (I recommend chilling overnight). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar on top of each chilled custard. Hold a kitchen torch 2 inches above surface to brown the sugar and form a crust. Garnish with cookies and fresh fruit. Serve at once.

Chill overnight and cover with sugar

Chill overnight and cover with sugar

caramelize!

caramelize!

Variation: Before dividing into ramekins: add 3 ounces of shaved dark chocolate for chocolate creme brulee; add 4 slices of crystallized ginger for ginger creme brulee; add 3 slices of orange peel for orange creme brulee. Let steep 20 minutes to infuse the flavor. Strain out the ginger and orange peel before baking.

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2 Responses to “Dulce de Leche Brownies and Creme Brulee”


  1. 1 Patrick
    August 4, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    mmmm dulce de leche…

  2. 2 potato
    August 11, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    it was really, really good.


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