Until my family moved to Texas in 1998, I had never heard of a celebration called “Cinco de Mayo.” I didn’t know about the Mexican victory over the French in 1862, or even what dulce de leche is! When we drove to Texas from Florida, I noticed that in Texas there were many lovely people from Mexico, whereas in northwest Florida in the late ’90s, we didn’t have any Mexican neighbors. It seemed rather exotic to me! And the vast number of Mexican restaurants here made me get really happy; in Florida, the specialty, obviously, is heavenly fresh seafood, but the Mexican eateries were just awful. Awful. Really. (I hope that’s changed by now, for my Florida friends’ benefit.) So I was just thrilled to see the many options here, and I had fun trying out different ones all over East Texas, and I’m not tired of it, yet.
I’ve also learned to make some good Mexican entrees myself; chicken enchiladas, steak fajitas, etc. I’ve even canned my own salsa. It’s all so delicious! I’ve never learned to make any desserts from Mexico, though. That changed when I found Rick Bayless! He has a great website with recipes ranging from salads to entrees and desserts. When I saw this particular recipe, I knew it would be something I’d love; chocolate and caramel combined are always perfect in my opinion! Let me share it with you now, and you can have your own chocolate fix/Cinco de Mayo celebration…right in your mouth! 🙂
Dulce de Leche Brownies
- 1 ½ cups dulce de leche, cajeta or best-quality caramel sauce
- Milk (optional)
- 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 ½ cups pecan halves, toasted lightly, then coarsely chopped
- Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling on top
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the inside of a 13-by-9-inch metal baking pan with heavy-duty foil. Lightly grease the foil.
- Heat caramel sauce in a small saucepan until pourable. (Add a little milk if necessary to get a pourable consistency.) Remove from heat.
- Put the chopped unsweetened chocolate and the butter into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Melt over very low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, then eggs, vanilla and salt.
- Stir in flour just until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans.
- Spread batter in prepared pan. Pour the dulce de leche or caramel over the top of the brownie batter. Using the handle of a spatula or butter knife, swirl the dulce de leche gently into the brownie batter underneath. Do not mix them together completely, you should be able to see the swirling pattern on the top. Bake until center is just set, but not at all dry, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. (Refrigerate for easier cutting.)
- To cut, lift brownies out of pan. Invert onto a cutting board and peel off foil. Cut with a large knife into small squares. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve.
Note: These brownies can be made a couple days in advance. If made more than one day in advance, be sure to refrigerate them. Also, I could only find the cans of dulce de leche at the local Latino grocery store. The can looks like a can of condensed milk. ALSO, do not overbake. Seriously. I did today and the edges were a loss; just had to cut them off.
I love the idea of serving these brownies with ice cream; I especially like the idea of cinnamon ice cream, but vanilla will work wonderfully well, too. To make a sundae, it’d be a great idea to top the brownie with ice cream, then drizzle chocolate sauce or warmed dulce de leche over the ice cream; maybe sprinkle on some toasted pecans at the end! The very thought of that makes me think of one word: decadent! It also makes me grateful for a holiday that gives us a chance to indulge in rich treats like this every once in awhile. Enjoy!
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