Monday, September 27, 2010

Life's Too Short to Live Without Chocolate

The little box below my Facebook profile photo says:
I've been down many a culinary and dietary road, and, in the final analysis, I've decided that life's too short to live without chocolate.
It would appear as if chocolate itself was my gateway drug back into the world of carbohydrate consumption.  Actually, it was sushi.  But, I digress.

Life IS too short to live without chocolate.  

There are people who claim not to like chocolate.  Generally, I think they are total freaks, but I try not to say it to their face.  All I can say is that they are missing out in some seriously delicious stuff.  Their loss.

I used to be all about sweet, creamy, milk chocolate, and I would gobble it in very large quantities.  Somehow, the older I get, the darker I like it.  My preference right now runs in the 72-75% range.  I think it has much to do with the fact that I no longer eat chocolate in large amounts, but rather I take the time to savor one small piece at a time.  When I do this, the sweeter confections taste excessively sugary, with not enough of the important stuff: chocolate.

Since my return to omnivory in late May of 2010, I have explored many varieties of chocolate: bars, truffles, dipped Oreo cookies, peanut butter cups, flourless chocolate torte, ice cream, even a Snickers bar after a strenuous hike up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.  Hot chocolate, brownies, pain au chocolat, and, most recently, dulce de leche brownies.  Oh, yeah, and Nutella.  

Contrary to what one may be led to believe from the above list, I do not consume chocolate every day.  But when I do, I make sure it's worth the experience.  Actually, I do that with 95% of the food I choose to eat these days (I estimate that 5% of the time, I will settle for a less-than-stellar gastronomic experience in favor of not passing out).  

Since chocolate, indispensable as it is, usually does not find its way into my body as primary fuel, I can afford to be picky about it 100% of the time.  If the first bite doesn't meet my standards for awesomeness,  the second bite usually doesn't happen.  Even if that means throwing away 9/10 of a $6 pastry.  I'd rather throw out five bucks in the trash than have my body do the job of the trash can.  I don't even see it as throwing money out.  I see it as a $6 lesson in which pastry not to buy again.  And, as lessons go, that's a pretty inexpensive one.

A month ago, Husband and I went to an Argentinian restaurant, where I bought a jar of authentic dulce de leche.  For a month, the jar sat in the cupboard, waiting for me to get inspired to use it in something.  So, I decided to use it in brownies.  For the brownie base, I used an adaptation of the Ghirardelli brownie recipe that I developed in grad school, when I was out of Ghirardelli powder and had only plain Hershey's cocoa. You can use any kind of cocoa powder.  If you use Dutch cocoa, such as Droste, you will have a deeper, richer flavor, but plain Hershey's cocoa will yield a perfectly scrumptious brownie.

I use a round pan for more even cooking.  

Here is the recipe:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 oz butter, melted (I use salted butter.  If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt)
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (DO NOT SIFT)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dulce de leche

Preheat oven to 350ยบ Fahrenheit.

Line a the bottom of a 9" pan (round or square, whatever you have) with nonstick foil or parchment

In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Add melted butter.  In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder.  Slowly add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing thoroughly.  Add the chocolate chips and mix well.  Pour half the batter into pan.  Scatter spoonfuls of dulce de leche into the batter, until you have used about half a cup.  Use a knife to swirl the dulce slightly into the batter.  Pour the second half of the batter, and repeat the dulce de leche application.  

Put pan in the oven and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until it is slightly set in the center.  Cool thoroughly before serving.

This is a very rich dessert, best consumed in small quantities, alongside a glass of cold milk.  I tried it with vanilla ice cream.  Too much.

And, because I'm a picture ho:


  1. *slobbering on keyboard*

    I will have to make this for my birthday. It incorporates my two favorites: Chocolate and Caramel (Dulce de Leche)!

  2. Oh wow! I know right! Same here I now eat only when hungry and it works....omg! its so freeing too!
    In thw beginning it was endless failures but its so much better. And am loosing weight too!