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I haven’t been baking much the last couple of months. For a while I was a bit over it after the usual Christmas extravaganza, and then after that it was so hot and smoky, followed by slightly cooler but even smokier, that I really didn’t feel like turning the oven on… I even found I could make my sourdough in the slow cooker by necessity, as I had the dough ready, but it was 10pm and still 30C, and I just couldn’t bring myself to add any more heat to the house, let alone cranking the oven to full!

stir cocoa into chocolate and butter

However, today was 19C and pouring with sweet, beautiful rain, so baking brownies seems like a perfectly lovely idea 🙂 I’ve posted a couple of brownie recipes in the past, one a slightly healthy version with black beans, and one a classic version with toasted hazelnuts. This one is definitely the richest, adding big swirls of caramel to the chocolate.

stir in walnuts if using

The original recipe used dulce de leche, but I’ve tried a few versions, and any milk caramel, including the ones in a tin, works fine. Dulce de leche is surprisingly easy to make, and of course the batch made with homemade was pretty fabulous, but it’s certainly not essential! The key thing to watch out for is overbaking. The pockets of molten caramel can make you think they’re not done yet, but follow the timing, and check often, and if in doubt pull them out. The batch pictured at the top should actually have come out a couple of minutes earlier if you look closely 🙂

swirl through dulce de leche

Dulce de leche brownies

Adapted very slightly from a David Lebowitz recipe

  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 170g dark chocolate (I use 70% cocoa solids)
  • 25g cocoa (preferably dutch process)
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 140g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 250g milk caramel (dulce de leche, confiture du lait, or even tinned like Nestle top ‘n’ fill caramel!)
  • 100g roughly chopped walnuts or macadamias (optional)

Preheat over to 180C (160C fan forced). Line a square 20cm or round 23cm tin with baking paper.

Melt butter and chocolate on low power in a heatproof bowl in the microwave. Remove when chocolate is mostly melted, and stir until until completely smooth. Thoroughly mix in cocoa and sugar until smooth with no lumps. It will look a bit grainy at this stage, but don’t worry.

Beat in vanilla and eggs, and beat briskly until the mixture thickens and becomes shiny. Fold in flour and salt with a rubber spatula until fully combined and then add nuts (if using). Scoop half the batter into the tin and spread evenly. Top with one third of the caramel, swirling slightly with a butter knife, then the other half of the batter and the remaining caramel, swirling again.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until just firm on top, and a skewer comes out with sticky but not runny mixture attached – it shouldn’t be completely clean, and under-cooked for brownies is always better than over. Start checking at 20 minutes – mine took 24. Remember if you poke the caramel the skewer will be gooey, but it doesn’t mean the rest isn’t cooked. Cool in tin before carefully lifting out and cutting in squares. Store in a tin at room temperature.

Makes 16 squares.