Here’s to Confiture de lait, better known as Dulce de Leche.
When David Lebovitz’s newsletter appeared in our inboxes last week, I immediately sent it to Andrew with a note that said “Pretty Please”. My email arrived at approximately the moment he’d started printing it. This was followed by a supermarket outing for supplies and he was off. Before long, he had them in the oven. These “brownies” are incredibly, wonderfully, sinfully rich. The word, “moist” doesn’t even do them justice. Are they brownies or fudge? Dark Chocolate with swirls of sweetened milk made them irresistible. But then again, I can’t resist Dulce de Leche. And neither can David Lebovitz who included it in his wonderful book “The Sweet Life in Paris” (Broadway Books 2011). But I wonder if David’s memories of Dulce de Leche are anywhere near as funny as mine.
My Introduction to Dulce de Leche was explosive.
I went to Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) for college. The school attracted a number of ‘foreign’ students. I was one—from Canada. In our group of friends, there was an exotic beauty from Argentina. Vesna was mad for sweets. One holiday, she went to stay with one of our classmates who lived rather grandly in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. Vesna took it upon herself to make Dulce de Leche in the conventional way. That is by submerging cans of Borden’s Condensed Milk in boiling water for three to four hours. Somehow the water completely evaporated. The can exploded in spectacular fashion. It coated everything in sight. Even the ceiling was covered with it. It was the first thing I thought of when Andrew was about to make it. Lo and behold, David Lebovitz has a technique for making Dulce de Leche in the oven, which, thankfully, we include here.
The World discovers Dulce de Leche.
I have always associated this addictively sweet caramel with Argentina and Mexico. Obviously, France has adopted it big time. When he moved to France, Lebovitz was surprised to see Cheese Shops all over Paris with signs announcing “Confiture de lait, Ici!”. The cheesemongers were only too happy to sell their customers a scoop to take home to eat with their morning baguette. It’s not, he says, confined to breakfast. It’s an afternoon snack particularly popular with children. And now Lebovitz says it’s in every supermarket in a proliferation of brands. There’s even Dulce de Leche sold in tubes. Who is going to not want a discrete squeeze now and then? Here is the recipe for Dulce de Leche itself and for these spectacular brownies. (You can even add nuts.) And below it, some other David Lebovitz recipes to enjoy.
How to Make Dulce de Leche in the Oven
The best way to make the extraordinary treat that is Dulce de Leche or Confiture de lait
- One 14 ounce can (400g) sweetened condensed milk
- pinch kosher or sea salt
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).
- Step 2 Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. Stir in the salt.
- Step 3 Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.
- Step 4 Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 to 1¼ hours. (Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary). Once the Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk until smooth.
- Step 5 Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using it. Makes about 1 cup (250ml).
Dulce de Leche Brownies
An extraordinarily rich, deeply Chocolatey Brownie enhanced with swirls of Dulce de Leche...and nuts if you really want to gild the lily.
- 8 tablespoons (115g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 6 ounces (170g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup (25g) unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (140g) flour
- Optional: 1 cup (100g) toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (260g) Dulce de leche
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350ºF degrees (175 C.)
- Step 2 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 some softened butter or non-stick spray.
- Step 3 Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate 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.
- Step 4 Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Drop one-third of the dulce de leche by scant tablespoons evenly spaced over the brownie batter. Either drag a butter knife through the dulce de leche mounds to swirl them very slightly, being careful not to overdo it, or leave the mounds as they are. 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.
- Step 5 Bake until the center feels just-slightly firm, but still jiggly, about 30 minutes, but check them at the 25-minute mark as different chocolates behave differently and with these brownies, as with most brownies, you want to catch them before they become overbaked. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Once cool, lift the brownies out of the pan by grabbing the edges of the foil to remove them from the pan.
- Step 6 Storage: These brownies will keep well for up to 3 days at room temperature. They can be frozen for up to three months