We're having a mild winter here, but with the days getting shorter the kitchen is the place to be. I know many will cringe reading about warm ovens and hot soups, but, hey, we're glad the sweltering summer is over, at least for a few months.
The cold months always give way to nesting and deep thinking. How natural to bury myself in the kitchen and pretend that's my only thing to do all day. Bake whatever I want. For as many hours as I want.
I had been deep in work related issues, which I refuse to call problems. Sometimes others' attitudes make me mad, the way they manage their part of the deal. And how easy it is to just go on about all their supposed mistakes and character flaws. The thing is, they can be whatever they want to be, I have to be smarter and pull myself away from it and head for greener fields, find different approaches, different thoughts. On my part I mean. Learn how to separate the wheat from the hay and include only what works in my life. Allow whatever doesn't work to stay just long enough to be sorted in my brain, and then move on.
So I made brownies. I don't see how these fit into the story I know, but baking always gives me a sense of direction. And they are worth their weight in gold or whatever thing is worth a ton now (not fb shares please). As comforting as cake or bread. But so easy it's really a perfect effort-result idea. They´re a great snack or dessert for a barbecue or beach day, so they work for everyone.
They are originally made with dulce de leche, which is, of course, our daily spread here. I've been making these for more than a year now, and sell it now and then at the Café.
People love them, and that's saying a lot, since everything in this country has dulce de leche, and chocolate cake with ddl filling is the birthday cake of choice. So I made the nutella version, so beloved by most, because I strongly believe that almost anything that can be made with one can be made with the other. I threw the almost in the sentence just so we don't have a debate. I wanted to omit it, for the record.
This batter is good on it's own, but the jam or spread you use makes it brilliant. The thing to watch is not to swirl it too much; you need the puddle of dulce de leche or nutella, so when you bite, you can taste it separated from the chocolate.
Do make these bars, they're so good. Finger licking good. Literally.
DULCE DE LECHE BROWNIES
barely adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz
8 Tbs (115g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 oz. (170g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup (25g) unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
½ cup dulce de leche
½ cup hazelnut spread (Nutella)
Preheat oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
Line an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and sides of the pan. Grease bottom and sides with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.
Melt butter and chocolate in bowl over simmering water, stirring until melted and combined.
Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Drop tablespoonfuls of dulce de leche on one half and nutella on the other. With the tip of a knife swirl the spreads very slightly; otherwise you wont get the puddle.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just slightly firm. Do not over bake.
Remove from the oven and cool completely. Cool on wire rack.
These brownies are better the second day, and will keep well for up to 3 days.