By themselves, there is nothing Latin about brownies. Many consider them quintessentially American. But add some dulce de leche to the mix and all that changes. And while it’s pretty safe to bet that you won’t find dulce de leche brownies in most Latin countries, you will definitely find them at my house because they are quintessentially ME – Latina Americana.
These brownies are a reflection my life as a Dominicana born and raised in New York City. It wasn’t until I entered high school and ventured out of the predominantly Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights that I started to feel caught between two worlds, where Spanish was spoken at home and English everywhere else. And this was further exasperated when I started college – when I was the only Latina in most of my classes. As is the case with many teens, I longed to leave the Heights when I was done with high school. But once in college, I longed for merengue, novelas, platanos and Dominican cake.
With time, intermingling my two worlds became easier. Not only did I figure out how to balance but I realized that I didn’t have to be one or the other. I am wholeheartedly without a doubt just as much Americana as I am Dominicana and I wear my two cultures as a badge of honor.
And with that I give you these brownies – quintessentially American but with a Latin Flair that can’t be denied. They are not for the faint of heart, with dense, rich and utterly delicious chocolate flavor. I over-swirled mine a bit, so the dulce de leche flavor wasn’t as prominent as it could have been. (So don’t over swirl.) But it did beautifully perfume my mouth, which made this chica jump for joy.
Dulce de Leche Brownies
8 tablespoons (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 cup Dulce de Leche (or Cajeta; homemade or store-bought)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 8-inch square pan with parchment paper leaving a 1-inch overhang on two sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with non-stick spray.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate chunks 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, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through 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.
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 actually become better the second day, and will keep well for up to 3 days.