I made a batch of dulce de leche brownies last week for my humor writing class (it was my turn to bring snacks), but the recipe only calls for about half of the can. Which meant there was some leftover. Which meant I was left vulnerable. So I put the leftovers in a jar and locked it away into the refrigerator, hoping to forget about it for a while. But… Why would I want to forget about dulce de leche? How could I lock it away instead of celebrate it’s existence?… it’s rich, creamy, caramel-y existence?
Because I am weak. And because the last time I had leftover dulce de leche it never made it into the refrigerator, it only made it as far as a spoon which led it to my mouth. And I enjoyed every minute of it. However, when the moment was over I realized I had just eaten almost a cup of dulce de leche with a spoon. Surely that can’t be right. Where did it all go? I have more self-control than that.
Well, maybe not. So this time I wanted to resist… to be a little more disciplined. We’re entering the Holiday Season in which there will be more butter-laden treats than any one person should be allowed to sample but I will probably sample them all. However, I’d like to give myself a fighting chance to fit into my jeans come New Year which means not eating some beautifully rich and silky things with a spoon and utter abandon. And so, I locked the dulce de leche away in the fridge and tried to forget about it.
A couple of days later I woke to a desperate cry for help. The dulce de leche wanted to be free. Why was I being so cruel? How could I lock it away like that when we would both be happier if it were free to consort with spoons and the like? Well. Hrm. I could see this was going to be a tougher than I thought. Not only was the dulce de leche taunting me, but it was burdening me with a guilt trip. I immediately began to look for a mitigation plan. I saw a can of pumpkin and was hit with inspiration: pumpkin pound cake with dulce de leche swirls. The dulce de leche would be used up and I could give most of the cake away leaving me free from temptation. A brilliant plan.
In the end, I did not use up all of the leftover dulce de leche. I didn’t want to over-swirl the pound cake. Or maybe, subconsciously, I wanted to have some left to eat with a spoon…
Pumpkin Pound Cake with Dulce de Leche Swirls
(adapted from the Brown butter pound cake in Gourmet, October 2009)
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
about 1/2 – 3/4 cup dulce de leche
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and lightly flour an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch (or 9 by 5-inch) loaf pan.
- Heat the butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until the milk solids on the bottom are a dark chocolate brown (Note: I found it easier to see this by removing the butter from the pan because my skillet is dark). Transfer to a shallow bowl and put it in the freezer just until it congealed, about 15 minutes (My butter got hard on top in the freezer but had some liquid still underneath that shell. If this happens to you, mix it for a minute so that it becomes one soft mass instead of some hard and some liquid).
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin spice.
- Cream the brown butter with the sugars with mixer until it is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and pumpkin.
- On a low speed, mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
- Transfer about half of the batter to the loaf pan and smooth it around so that it covers the bottom of the pan and forms an even layer. Place small grape-sized dollops of dulce de leche on the surface. Swirl by running the tip of a knife through one or two times to create a swirly pattern.
- Cover with the rest of the batter, smooth the surface. Use the rest of the dulce de leche on top, also in small grape-sized dollops and swirled with the tip of a knife.
- Bake 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours (75 to 90 minutes).
- Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then invert onto a rack (right side up) to cool completely, about one hour.
Want more dulce de leche?
- Dulce de leche cheesecake squares from Smitten Kitchen
- Dulce de leche apple bars with browned butter icing from Recipe Girl
- Dulce de leche cake with vanilla bean from The Purple Foodie