Yesterday was my last day at work. I can’t believe it is actually over. I’ve been waiting and counting down for a couple of months now (longer than that really, but that was when I made my decision to quit), but now that it’s over I feel odd. I had my struggles with work for quite some time, but it was still sad to say goodbye. I don’t regret the decision to leave, but all day long I found myself pausing to take it all in: This is the last time I’ll sit in this cube fixing bugs… this is the last time I’ll walk downstairs to buy lunch… this is the last time I’ll use this laptop. It was all kind of surreal. I didn’t spend a lot of time this week looking ahead, I spent most of it looking back and saying good-byes. The few glimpses to the future I did have were scary. The unknown is scary. I’m excited and it feels good to be taking a step forward, but I am a little freaked out to be out on my own.
Before I could go, I wanted to leave my friends with a parting gift. Brownies. What could be better than brownies? But I couldn’t decide what kind to make: a classic fudge brownie? s’mores brownies? cheesecake brownies? I just couldn’t choose. That is, until I finished reading The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. The last recipe in his book is for Dulce de Leche Brownies. Ding ding ding, we have a winner. So I pulled out the Spanish dark chocolate that my friend Erinne gave me and bought a can of dulce de leche (it was made by Nestle. I may try making my own next time but the can from Safeway wasn’t too bad).
The result was a dense, chocolaty, rich, moist brownie with ribbons of caramely dulce de leche running through. I delivered the brownies to my friends at work while saying goodbyes on Thursday. And while I still had Friday to finish out before I was officially done, it felt good to leave on a sweet note.
I used the recipe from David’s book The Sweet Life in Paris (which was a fun read. His stories are hilarious and there are several recipes I can’t wait to try), but you can also find the Dulce de leche Brownies recipe on his blog.
Dulce de Leche Brownies
(adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris)
8 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the pan
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (the recipe calls for Dutch process, but I used natural because that’s what I had)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped, optional (I opted not to use nuts)
1 cup dulce de leche
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Generously grease an 8-inch square pan.
3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate and stir constantly over very low heat until melted.
4. Remove from the heat and add the cocoa. Whisk until smooth.
5. Add the eggs one at a time (it will look a little curdly at first but keep mixing and by the 3rd egg it will look smooth).
6. Stir in the sugar, vanilla, and flour. Mix in nuts if using.
7. Scrape half of the batter into the pan and spread it out. Drop about one-third of the dulce de leche in prune-sized dollops, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter. (I apparently think prunes are really big… you don’t want to make your dollops too big or it will be hard to swirl and you’ll just have big globs. I’d say no more than maybe tablespoon size dollops would work better than my walnut to golf-ball sized dollops).
8. Drag a knife through the dulce de leche to swirl it slightly.
9. Spread the remaining brownie batter over the top, then drop the rest of the dulce de leche over the batter. Run a knife through to swirl it. David’s note says that if you overdo the swirling, the whole thing will bake into a bubbly mess so just drag a knife through once or twice and leave it at that. (I will admit I swirled a bit more than once or twice but that was because the dollops I used were too big. It did bubble up a little as it baked but it didn’t turn into a mess so you probably just need to use some restraint and be gentle).
10. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the center feels just slightly firm.
11. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting.
12. Share them with old friends or make new ones.