Today is national caramel day. It is also raisin and spice bar day, but I’m not that fond of raisin, so I’m going with caramel! I made you Salted Caramel Brownies, with a tiny twist. I used Dulce de Leche instead of caramel. I’ve included the directions to make my favorite Dulce de Leche in the recipe below, but I’ve written a post on two ways to make Dulce de Leche here. You can make it using the long way, the short way, or the store bough way, that’s if you’re really short on time.
But whichever way you decide to make your Dulce de Leche, you will end up with some finger licking good salted caramel brownies. There are multiple layers of flavor to these treats. They’re sweet and salty, chocolaty and caramelly (is that even a word?). They’re sticky and messy to eat but for once I really don’t mind licking my fingers. But if you must, serve them on a plate with a fork. I admit I’m guilty of doing that when I had these with my morning coffee and trying to check work email at the same time. I was just trying to avoid wasting all the caramelly goodness on the keyboard and mouse. And yes, by now, my eating dessert for breakfast should not surprise you anymore.
I highly recommend making your own Dulce de Leche. When you’re simmering milk, sugar and vanilla bean together, the vanilla gets infused deeply into the mixture which gives a much more flavorful Dulce de Leche. I think this really gives an extra zing to the brownies. And just think about all the wonderful things you can do with left over Dulce de Leche! You can drizzle it over fruits and smoothie bowls, dip cookies in it, eat it with apples, or just eat it straight from the jar… So enjoy these on this wonderful Wednesday!
Salted Caramel Brownies
For Dulce de Leche:
- 1 quart of whole milk (4 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean (split with the seeds scraped)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- A pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoon whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chip
- 2 tablespoon + 2 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon boiling water
- 1 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chip
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 oz unsalted butter - melted
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dulce de leche
- Sea salt flake
To make Dulce de Leche:
- Put milk, sugar and vanilla bean pod and seeds in a large sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer stirring occasionally.
- When sugar completely dissolves, add baking soda and salt. Reduce to low heat and let the mixture simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.
- After one hour, remove vanilla bean pod and skim off foam and anything chunky as necessary.
- Continue to simmer the mixture for 2 - 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally.
- In the last hour of cooking, stir the mixture frequently and reduce heat to the lowest setting if necessary, but keep the mixture bubbling.
- Reduce the mixture to about 1 ½ cups. When it thickens and the color is caramel brown, it is ready.
To make brownies:
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line an 8”x8” square baking pan with two strips of parchment paper in a cross pattern, leaving excess hanging out on all four sides. This will allow for easy removal of the brownie after baking.
- In a small mixing bowl, add flour, salt, and chocolate chips, mix with a spatula and set aside.
- Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- In a large heat proof bowl, add cocoa powder and boiling water, whisk until cocoa powder dissolves.
- Add 1 oz of semisweet chocolate chip to the hot cocoa powder mixture and whisk until chocolate chips melted creating a smooth chocolate mixture.
- Add oil and melted butter and whisk until combine.
- Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
- Add sugar and whisk until completely incorporated.
- Now add the flour and chips mixture set aside earlier, fold using a spatula until just combined. The batter does not need to be smooth, avoid overmixing.
- Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow the entire pan to cool on a wire rack.
- When cool enough to touch, lift the entire brownie out of the pan by lifting the parchment paper ends. Cut into 9 square portions with a serrated knife.
- Drizzle 1/2 cup of dulce de leche all over brownies. If the dulce de leche is not pourable, warm up in a small sauce pan, or microwave in 10 second intervals just until it is warm enough to pour.
- Sprinkle a few sea salt flakes on top of the dulce de leche and enjoy!
2. Dulce de leche can be made the day before, or you can use the can version.
3. If microwaving dulce de leche, be very careful with the timer so it doesn’t boil over inside the microwave. It will be a mess!
4. Store left over Dulce de Leche in the fridge.
5. Store brownies in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days.