Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dulce De Leche Brownies

Dulce de leche is a rather recent discovery for me.  A couple years ago, I helped organize a few international movie nights at work and had the idea to bring in some food from each movie’s country of origin.  For example, I made samosas for the Bollywood movie night.


When it came time to watch the Argentinian film Nine Queens, one of my favorite movies, I turned to the advice of my friend from Buenos Aires because I had no clue what the cuisine of Argentina was like.  She suggested I make alfajores de dulce de leche: a sandwich cookie with dulce de leche in the middle.  I was hooked on dulce de leche from that point on and frequently found myself eating it straight up by the spoonful.  Simply describing it as “caramel” doesn’t really do it justice.


The first time I made dulce de leche, I used the stovetop method of simmering a can of sweetened condensed milk for a few hours.  This method works fine, but now that I have a sous vide setup, I thought I’d try it that way and hold it in a 185 F water bath for about 14 hours.  As a side note, I would not recommend the microwave method of making dulce de leche unless time is an issue.  It’s too much trouble compared to the simmer-in-a-can method.

Recently, I’ve been making chocolates and chocolate pastries featuring dulce de leche.  The rich and creamy caramel-like flavor of dulce de leche (as I said before, not doing it justice) goes nicely with the bitterness of chocolate.  The brownie recipe I’ve been tinkering with is from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home and I found the recipe’s method of preparing the butter interesting.  Not only does it call for a artery-clogging 3 sticks of butter, but it calls for melting half the butter and using that to melt the other half.  This results in a very creamy emulsion that I’ve never seen before with butter.


As for the dulce de leche, I portioned out 100 grams of the confection and popped it in the freezer to harden so I could chop it up into small, even chunks and add it to the batter.  This probably wasn’t the best idea as the distribution of the dulce de leche didn’t turn out very well and I ended up just scooping dulce de leche onto the finished brownies.


Instead of using a traditional baking vessel, I decided to use a silicone mold that I originally bought for making chocolates.  Incidentally, the mold is actually marketed as a brownie mold.  The mold worked well enough and helped each square develop a nice texture on the top edge much like the rim on a muffin top.  Brownies with a muffin top rim?  I’ll take it.


Another success was serving the brownies with a side of crispy homemade pancetta.  Alternating between sweet and salty extended the addictiveness of an already crack-like dessert, and I’m a big fan of a little saltiness with my sweets to balance things out.

Dulce De Leche

Mise En Place

  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, label removed


    1. Submerse the can completely in a pot and simmer (do not boil) for 3-4 hours.  A longer simmering time results in a thicker dulce de leche.  Alternatively, submerse the can in a 185 F water bath for about 14 hours.
    2. Cool for about 15 minutes.  At this point, the dulce de leche will be like a thick sauce and be used as such if desired.
    3. Refrigerate.  It will harden as it cools.


Via Ad Hoc at Home

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