Baby Brownies - made January 5, 2010, from The Silver Palate Basics Cookbook
Okay, so I wasn't going to be baking in January. Too many people "dieting" or having new year's resolutions to eat healthier and cut out sweets. Or so I thought. I underestimated the fact that I work mostly with men who don't care so much about that kind of stuff. I had a few people ask me if I'd made anything or what I was baking lately. Hey, I can take a hint. Plus I had meetings today where I normally bring something and I would've hated to disappoint anyone if they expected it and I showed up empty handed. And actually, let's face it - I'm weak. Despite burning out on baking over the holidays, after a 5-day hiatus from it, I suddenly didn't seem to mind baking again. Maybe I just needed a respite from cooking, lol.
This recipe was given to me by Jim, one of the VPs I work with. Jim made them last month and gave our group some so I knew ahead of time they were good. So it wasn't like I needed to make them myself, right? Apparently, I'm also a control freak and I wanted to try the recipe for myself. When Jim had us try this the first time, I had an end piece and a middle piece. I always like the middles because they're the most moist. I ate the middle piece first and it was just all yummy, fudgy, chocolatey goodness. When I ate the end piece, it was good too and still moist but not as moist as the middle piece and before I even looked at the recipe, I guessed there was chocolate syrup in it. And I was right. At the time, the only chocolate syrup I knew of was the Hershey's brand and Jim said he used the Hershey's Special Dark syrup. I'm more of a hot fudge person myself and the syrup didn't detract from the brownies and likely helped them be so moist and fudgy. But I wondered if I could make them so that you can't really taste the syrup.
I wanted to know if there were more high end chocolate syrups out there beyond Hershey's and, at Jim's suggestion, I posted that question on Yahoo! Answers. Someone replied and suggested Trader Joe's Midnight Moo chocolate syrup. Okay, c'mon, for that name alone, you have to try it. So I bought a bottle and that's what I used to make the brownie batter. However, being me, I also put my own spin on it. I still had almost half a jar of dulce de leche from the Fantasy Bars I'd made a few weeks ago so I covered the bottom of the baking pan with half the brownie batter, dropped dollops of the dulce de leche over it then covered it all with the remaining brownie batter. I didn't swirl the dulce de leche in or try to spread it thin. I wanted it completely covered because if you bake it with the dulce de leche exposed, the dulce de leche bubbles up during baking and will become chewy when it cools. I don't want chewy, I wanted creamy and for that, the dulce de leche has to be covered and sandwiched within the brownie.
Just stare at the picture. Can you see how fudgy and moist it is? There are no chemical leaveners in the recipe (no baking powder or baking soda) and you don't beat a lot of air into it so it's just a rich, moist, fudgy brownie - perfect. The dulce de leche adds a sweet, caramel-like flavor and even more moistness to it so don't underbake it by too much. I turned off the oven after 30 minutes then let the baking pan sit in there for another 5 minutes before I took it out. As the recipe says, cut these into small pieces as they're pretty rich.
Here's the recipe:
Just add the dulce de leche on your own if you wish but it's certainly excellent without it too.