Here's something ooey gooey, rich and fudgy and irresistibly mouth-watering for you to dream about today. It's one of those things that you can't take your mind off of. One of those treats that you cut just a thin slice of. Then another... and another, and just like that half the pan is gone.
Warm from the oven or squidgy at room temperature, or dense and undoubtedly fudge-like from the fridge... Either way, it'll get you.
98.9% of all the times I make brownies, I make them with chocolate - that's pure bittersweet slabs of chocolate. But sometimes (mostly when I've eaten all the chocolate), I make them with cocoa.
What's the difference between brownies made with chocolate and brownies made with cocoa?
It's COCOA BUTTER.
Cocoa butter is very hard at room temperature and thus gives brownies a more dense, fudgy, hold-the-impressions-of-your-teeth-marks kind of brownie. I like that. Cocoa butter also carries the flavour of chocolate very well in its natural form so that we get a very true chocolate taste.
Brownies made with cocoa powder alone can sometimes leave me wanting more if the cocoa is cheap or years old and tastes like sawdust. Also, cocoa brownies are more susceptible to over-baking so you need to watch that oven!
But when done right with lovely high fat cocoa powder and baked to perfection, it makes soft moist brownies that will keep for weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.
There is a secret ingredient when making cocoa brownies. What is it?
It's SALTED BUTTER.
Believe it. It adds a richness that unsalted butter + salt just can't quite mimic and helps to elevate the cocoa powder.
I prefer natural cocoa when making brownies, but you can use Dutched cocoa if you enjoy a more mellow "hot chocolate" flavour profile. Just absolutely avoid heavily Dutched or "Black" cocoa, for it will make a very soapy or even smokey-tasting product at the levels it is used in brownie recipes.
What could make a rich fudgy brownie better? Swirls of dulce de leche.
This stuff is dangerous. I brought back a whole pile of it when I went to Chile last year and if I open it then *ish hits the fan. I can's stop eating this stuff no matter how sweet it is. It's that savoury umami caramel taste that comes from Maillard Browning - a reaction between milk protein and sugar that basically tastes like strung out caramelization.
One way to make sure I don't eat the whole jar is to use it up in a recipe like this, but then I end up eating all the brownies which really helps no one except for my central nervous system that basically thinks it's over the rainbow.
How do you keep those swirls of dulce de leche (or caramel if you meed a substitute) from just oozing out everywhere and bubbling out of the brownies?
Regular all-purpose flour binds the moisture in the caramel and sets it in place as it bakes so you have beautiful globs of caramel/dulce de leche throughout the brownie. The swirls will remain in the way you left them as thick hunks of fudge.
It's beautiful. It's deadly.
Go ahead and fall into this trap.
Dulce de Leche Swirl Cocoa Fudge BrowniesMakes 16 brownies
For the brownie mixture:2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extract10 tablespoon (140g) salted butter
1 teaspoon water⅔ cup (56g) cocoa powder (or use natural cocoa)¼ teaspoon salt½ cup (70g) all-purpose flour½ cup (60g) coarsely chopped walnuts
For the swirl:
½ cup (130g) dulce de leche1 tablespoon 10% half & half cream
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 325°F and line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
To make the brownies, first combine eggs, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously until well combined and lightened by a shade. Set it aside to allow the sugar to dissolve in the eggs for 5 minutes. Meanwhile melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and continue to heat until it just starts to bubble and crack (it will be very hot and that’s the point). Add water and cocoa and whisk it in until smooth then pour this warm cocoa mixture into the egg mixture and whisk until well blended. The warm butter/cocoa will warm up the egg mixture and further help to dissolve the sugar for that shiny crust.
Add flour and whisk it in until combined then fold through the walnuts. Spread the batter into your prepared pan.
To make the swirl, stir together dulce de leche, cream, flour and salt until smooth and loosened up a bit. Place spoonfuls of this mixture randomly over the brownie batter and then swirl it in with a knife.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until puffed and the surface looks shiny. A skewer inserted into the center should come out with a few moist crumbs. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely and then slice into slabs or squares.