I wanted to make some of these to take to my mom for Mother's Day, but the time, the time it just fizzled away. We moved her this weekend, though. And there was an IGA-bought chocolate cake involved (I know, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do).
My dad, though, was enamoured of all things Latino Americano. I don't think he knew about Cinco de Mayo, did he? Does anyone remember him throwing that particular party? it's hard to believe he wouldn't have if he were aware. Still it's impossible not to think of his bad boy party self. It doesn't matter any more, our differences, because he's gone to that great pontoon boat in the sky, and now I can love a more perfect version of him. Having gotten my mom initially installed in her little retirement apartment, here I introduce you to the best brownie in the world, made by Myself two weekends ago. Here is the secret ingredient, amigas y amigos:
Yes, dolce de leche. The nector of the milky caramel gods, up there skirting the cosmic lakes in their sparkly-lighted boats. Or something. For once in my life invited to a Cinco de Mayo dinner party (thanks, y'all! it was fun!), I made dolce de leche brownies from David Lebowitz's angelic recipe. Finally, a brownie I like that's not The Barefoot Contessa's boxed mix (ya, it's fantastic, when you want a mix -- the only one on earth that's worth buying). Ledowitz's brownie recipe rocks even without the dolce de leche. And with it, wow. Ultimato.
In the STL you can buy the Argentinian dolce de leche at Straub's, for $11. I'm betting it's in Mexican markets on Cherokee Street, too, for about a million dollars less, but I haven't made it over there yet. There is also a method I'm entirely curious about, wherein one covers a can of sweetened condensed milk with water and simmers it for three hours, then lets it cool in the water for another three hours. Easy enough. But I wanted a taste of the yummy stuff made by experts before I embarked on the expedition myself.
Of course this reinforces my recent feeling that I have some karma with Argentina emerging, given Natalia's cake and all.
David Lebowitz's Dulce de Leche Brownies
8 tablespoons (115 g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup (25 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140 g) flour
optional: 1 cup (100 g) toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup Dulce de Leche (or Cajeta)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 C).
Line a 8-inch (20 cm) 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.
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.
Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Here comes the fun part.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.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.