For those who have been baking and cooking for a while, we know that there are always those recipes that don’t turn out. Cakes that don’t rise, macarons that don’t come off the tray, the mousse with pieces of seized chocolate interspersed throughout. In my opinion, the key to being a good cook is knowing how best to utilise these failures, as opposed to letting good (and often pricey) ingredients go to waste.
Last weekend, I wanted to make Dulce de Leche for the first time. I was going to make a cheesecake for the office, and thought that some lovely Dulce de Leche caramel would be lovely to swirl through the top of the cheesecake. After doing some thorough reading online, I decided to proceed with the easiest and riskiest method of making Dulce de Leche: boiling the can.
Dulce de Leche translates literally to ‘candied milk’, and is most popular in South America. With the method I took, it involves gently heating a can of condensed milk (not to be confused with evaporated milk) until the sugars in it caramelise. The resulting flavour is milkier and less sweet than your normal butterscotch caramel made from brown sugar and butter.
Some blogs said to punch holes in the can to prevent the can from exploding, but I read somewhere else that water gets into the holes. So I simply peeled the label off, then immersed the can in a saucepan full of water, with a tea towel at the bottom so the can wouldn’t rattle.
You then let it simmer, lid on, for three hours, topping up the water to make sure that the can is always covered. Unfortunately, I went to pick my sister up from work and forgot about it for two hours, but I didn’t notice the consequences until the next day, when the can had fully cooled down so that I could open it.
At a glance, it looked amazing and I was thrilled. Upon getting a spoon however, I realised it wasn’t a smooth, flowing caramel, but in fact a tad chewy.
Tasty as it was, I knew it would utterly fail at swirling through a cheesecake as it was simply too hard.
Over the week, I consulted some foodie forums about overcooked Dulce de Leche. It was suggested that it be put to good use by baking it in a brownie. A brownie it was!
This has to be the best brownie recipe I’ve ever made. I’ve had a long-term aversion to making brownies, as my previous attempts have either resulted in something tasting like raw chocolate cake mix or a dry chocolate cake. This was the perfect balance of glorious fudgi-ness, not overly-sweet, and of course, dotted with wonderful pieces of Dulce de Leche caramel! This delightful recipe comes from the lovely Sydney blogger chocolatesuze, with minor adjustments for my own preferences.
You will need:
- 115g butter;
- 170g dark chocolate, chopped (I used Cadbury Old Gold Original);
- 1/4C unsweetened cocoa powder (I had some beautiful cocoa powder my sister bought me from Koko Black in Melbourne);
- 1C plain flour;
- 1C caster sugar;
- 3 eggs;
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste;
- 1/2C – 1C Dulce de Leche (Whatever’s left over from you eating it straight out of the can, pretty much).
1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celcius, and line a lamington/square pan with baking paper.
2. Melt the butter in a large bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water surface). Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over low heat until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the butter. Remove the bowl from the heat, and whisk in the cocoa and butter until smooth.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour.
4. Put some blobs of your Dulce de Leche onto the bottom of your lined tray.
Pour in a layer of brownie mix over the top, then blob with more of the Dulce de Leche.
Repeat until you have no more Dulce de Leche and no more brownie mixture. Smooth the top.
5. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the centre is ‘just’ slightly firm and a skewer comes out almost clean. Cool fully in the tray, then slice into small squares with a serrated knife.
And if you really want to be a total pig, like I completely am:
Serve it with some ice cream or cream. Or both! Haha the ice cream scoop is bigger than the brownie itself 😛
A recipe I’ll be keeping as a kitchen basic and adding various things to suit my mood. Pistachios, peanut butter, hazelnuts, espresso…the possibilities are simply endless!