I’m not a star best baker and am borderline obsessed with The Great British Baking Show on PBS. There are four or five dessert I can make really well and that’s it. Over the years, I’ve had the great fortune of partnering with Chef Diane Hom an amazing pastry chef. Her surgical precision in executing recipes and tireless testing made our collaborations hilarious and terrifying. We were Felix and Oscar; I’m Oscar-like and she’s pure Felix. I’m very spontaneous and will change recipes and techniques mid-stream onsite which drove Chef Di nuts but always produced great results. Good pastry chefs are like scientists and they’re not to be treated lightly. Her favorite response was “oh Dorothy, I don’t think that’s gonna work” and mine was always cavalier and confidently “trust me, it will be fine!” Always producing hair-raising moments for Chef Di but tasty results for clients.
Chef’s tip: I tested glass and nonstick baking pans and the best results came from the glass pan. Nonstick coating tends to over brown the edges and corners.
Dulce de Leche Brownies
12 brownies Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway Books)
- 8 tablespoons (115g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 6 ounces (170g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup (25g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (140g) flour
- optional: 1 cup (100 g) toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup Dulce de Leche (or Cajeta)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 C).Line an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. If it doesn’t reach all the way up and over all four sides, cross another sheet of foil over it, making a large cross with edges that overhang the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. Mix in the nuts, if using.Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, by heaping spoonfuls, evenly spaced over the brownie batter. Then drag a knife through the dulce de leche mounds to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly, again.Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
Storage: These brownies will keep well for up to 3 days at room temperature. They can be frozen for up to two months