These are grown-up brownies - rich but not overly sweet dark chocolate brownies with a layer of dulce de leche and cream cheese in the middle, topped with a chocolate dulce de leche ganache. Many people think of dulce de leche desserts as very sweet, but when dulce de lehce is paired with dark chocolate it seems to mellow, and its complex caramel flavors stand out.Optional extras for these brownies: a scattering of toasted pecans, instant expresso powder in the batter, toasted coconut in the middle layer, a layer of fruit jam (such as pineapple or raspberry) with the dulce de leche filling, and/or white chocolate chips in the batter.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Yield: About 16 2-inch square brownies.
- For the batter:
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 3 ounces good quality dark chocolate
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons dutch process cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons instant expresso powder (optional)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- For the filling:
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 egg yolk
- 8 ounces dulce de leche
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup pecan halves (optional)
- For the topping:
- 1 cup dulce de leche
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (such as Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips)
- Line a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. If using pecans, toast them ith a bit of butter and a couple of pinches of salt in the oven as it preheats, until they are slightly browned and fragrant. Coarsely chop and set aside.
- Prepare filling: Place dulce de leche in a microwave-proof bowl and microwave for 15 seconds on low power, until just softened and easy to stir. Whisk cream cheese, egg yolk, vanilla, salt and cinnamon into dulce de leche until well mixed. Set aside.
- Place butter and dark chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir butter and chocolate occasionally until completely melted. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
- Whisk the sugar into the melted butter and chocolate. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. If using the expresso powder, mix it with 1 tablespoon hot water and whisk it into the egg/chocolate/sugar mixture as well.
- Stir flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt together, then fold flour mixture into brownie batter until just mixed.
- Spread half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Carefully spread the dulce de leche mixture over the brownie batter, using a knife or spatula to make a smooth layer. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the dulce de leche filling (if using). Top with the remaining brownie batter, spreading and smoothing the batter gently with a knife or spatula.
- Place brownies in the oven and bake until they are puffed and no longer jiggly (about 30-40 minutes). If you press your finger lightly on the surface in the middle of the pan the brownies should feel slightly firm and spring back very lightly against your finger.
- Let brownies cool in the pan while you prepare the topping. Place the dark chocolate and dulce de leche in a microwave-proof bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds, then remove and stir. Repeat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Spread over the top of the brownies while they are still warm.
- Let brownies cool completely before cutting them into squares.