Dulce de leche blondies


We, here at The Ordinary, ate too many brownies some time in midwinter. As we lay with a glazed look in our eyes and crumbs on our bellies, we said, “I’m never eating brownies again.” Oh, I know, we’ve all said it, after a rough bout of brownie eating. But this time we meant it. Cakes and cookies and tarts? Sure. But no brownies. Fortunately, we didn’t say anything about blondies! So here we go! I had a half a can of sweetened condensed milk leftover from my almond quince cake. What a strange and magical substance sweetened condensed milk is. Who thought of it? How was it invented? Or was it discovered, like a rare and elusive natural phenomenon? For some reason it always makes me think of those 50s food ads from magazines, with the oddly fascinating coloration. The truth is, it’s a really nice taste. There’s something so comforting about the sweet, thick milkiness.

I seem to have made some indelible connection between dulce de leche and sweetened condensed milk. I didn’t use it when I made dulce de leche, but I bought a can then, just in case! Once again, I didn’t actually use dulce de leche in this recipe, but I melted brown sugar, butter and sweetened condensed milk to start it out, and that’s what I thought of.

The result is complete deliciousness. I’ve never made a brownie or a blondie with a more crackly top. And the inside is delightfully chewy and fudgy.

Here’s Blondie with Atomic. Wouldn’t you like to be Deborah Harry, living in NYC when this came out?
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Drambuie & dolce de leche ice cream with bittersweet chocolate

drambuie ice cream

I’m a huge fan of ice cream. I can’t think of a more enduringly perfect food. I worked in an ice cream parlor for an embarrassing number of years, long after I should have gotten a “real” job. I dream of ice cream flavors, I really do! So when I found myself with some dulce de leche, and then my mother-in-law brought us a bottle of drambuie (thanks, Ellie!) you could see the little wheels spinning madly in my head. And the one food I find completely irresistible is melting ice cream. There’s something about the contrast between the still-frozen part, and the increasingly creamy melty part that’s about more than the delightful textures. It’s about time passing! There’s a wonderful feeling of risk, almost – you want to take your time, but if you wait too long, it won’t be ice cream any more. There’s a perfect moment, or series of moments, when the ice cream must be consumed! I could eat a whole gallon of ice cream, in this state! The thing about adding drambuie to ice cream, or any alcohol, for that matter, is that it preserves the ice cream in a perpetual state of perfect meltiness! It never freezes completely, so from the minute you scoop it out, you MUST EAT IT!

I should probably mention that since the drambuie’s not heated, the alcohol doesn’t cook off. I wonder how much you’d have to eat to get drunk? Hmmm… We let the boys have small bowls after dinner, and they could still balance on their roller skates. But when Malcolm asked me for some at 9 o’clock this morning…well, I drew the line!

I don’t have a real ice cream maker, I have one of those donvier ice cream makers. Remember those? Do they still make them? Anyway, it does the trick. I’ll give you the recipe, and you can freeze it however you like.

Here’s Ice Cream man, by Tom Waits.
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I suppose this is the first stop on the super bodega express. I had thought about making this series well-planned and carefully organized. It’s not going to be that way. It’s going to be how I actually travel – vague and meandering. Wandering. The exciting thing about food, for me, is that one thing leads to another – one flavor makes you think of another, and combining them sends you off in different directions entirely!

I bought some guava paste at the Super Tropical Food Market. I’m very taken with it! I’ll tell you why. I’d read that when the Portuguese had trouble finding quince in Brazil, with which to make their membrillo, they fixed upon guava instead, as an acceptable substitute. I love quince paste! And I’m fascinated by the way foods changed as people moved throughout the world, according to the ingredients available and their needs at the time. That’s partly why I’m so intrigued by savory pastries, after all. And guava paste is lovely. It’s glowing and rosy and pretty, and I can think of a million ways to cook with it!

guava paste

Let’s start with these cookies! First of all, they’re not officially alfajores, they’re just my odd version of them. It all started when we watched a beautiful Uraguayan movie called Gigante. It made me curious about Uruguayan food, of course! And I read about a pastry that combines quince, dulce de leche and chocolate. Which sounds perfect, doesn’t it? And then I read about this cookies – alfajores, which are thin shortbread discs, connected with dulce de leche and enrobed in white or dark chocolate. Well! I had to make some! The description reminded me of the empire biscuits that my scottish mother-in-law makes, so I adapted her recipe for the cookie part – adding a bit of cinnamon and vanilla, because I thought they’d be nice with the guava paste and the dulce de leche. And then when I found the guava paste at the good old super tropical, I knew that would be in there as well. I made them tiny, because they really do combine a lot of very sweet flavors, if you think about it! They’re almost like little candies. And they taste wonderful! Everything combines to some mysterious taste that’s much bigger than the sum of its parts.

dulce de leche

I made the dulce de leche myself. (And very proud of myself I am, too!) I’ve always loved dulce de leche…it seems to combine elegance with the childish pleasures of warm milk and sticky caramel. I’ll include the recipe for that after the jump.

Here’s Carita de Alfajor by Fidel. I like the song a lot, but I don’t know what he’s saying. I should learn some languages!
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