It is time for another Secret Recipe Club and you are going to love both the recipe and its creator. If you are looking for an easy to make, quick to put together dessert for a crowd, this is the one for you!
Today’s recipe comes from Ilona’s Kitchen, which is run as smoothly as a Swiss watch by Ilona Thornton, even with all her responsibilities. I get tired just hearing about everything she does daily! Chauffeuring her kids from activity to activity, being a Girl Scout leader, working out at the gym, reading whenever she can squeeze it in, stocking the pantry, using coupons to find the best deals, and creating delicious meals every day … Whew! And somewhere in between all of this she also manages to photograph her creations and write her blog.
Make sure you swing by and check out all the wonderful, easy, family-friendly recipes Ilona has shared. They are fantastic and you will be inspired to get in the kitchen and get cooking right away!
As I was searching through all of her chocolate recipes, when I saw this pop up, I knew you would love it. I mean, really, who wouldn’t love chocolate and dulce de leche (caramel) cake, with all the other good things packed into a single bite? Absolute heaven!
Have you ever had dulce de leche? It is an Argentinean treat made by caramelizing sweetened milk. It is used in all kinds of desserts and is absolutely addicting. It comes already prepared in cans (very easy when you are short on time) or you can make your own.
When The Artist was out running errands, I asked him to pick up a can of dulce de leche for this recipe. He texted me, frustrated because he couldn’t find it. After some further hunting with no luck, I told him to grab a can of sweetened evaporated milk and I would make my own dulce. There is nothing to it – it just takes time. And watching it change in front of your eyes is always a thrill. The recipe to make it yourself is below the cake recipe.
Be forewarned – these will knock you over! Yes, the amounts of the ingredient measurements are correct. Yes you do use an entire box (4 sticks) of butter! But if you’ve got a hoard of hungry teenagers or big construction workers coming over for dinner, this is the dessert for you!
I have to tell you that our house smelled fantastic while this was baking. It was so aromatic that I kept having to shoo The Artist out of the kitchen just like a little kid. It was so cute!
I did make a minor change, doubling the chocolate to create a chocolate layer on top of the bars. It can never hurt to have a bit more chocolate can it? Nah! 😉
Enjoy these decadent and delicious bars – and make sure you stash a few away to snack on after all the others have been inhaled!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Definitely use a stand mixer if you have one. Because this is such a heavy batter, it takes a lot of power to blend it together.
This is a very sweet treat. If you want to cut back a little on the sugar, you can leave off the dulce de leche. Because the recipe calls for nearly all brown sugar, the cake/bar has a caramel-y flavor all on its own. The dulce de leche is an added bonus but can be skipped if desired.
I swaped my GF flour blend (find recipe here) for the regular all-purpose flour. I weighed it to make sure it equaled 120 grams per cup so that it would match the original recipe closely in texture.
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 4 cups (480 gr) all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats (gluten-free if needed)
- 2 cups (350 gr) semisweet chocolate chips, divided
- 1 (14 oz) can dulce de leche or 1-3/4 cups homemade, recipe follows
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 13×9-inch pan; set aside. Melt the butter and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until completely blended.
- In the bowl of your standing mixer, place the brown sugar, granulated sugar and melted butter. Start on low and once blended, turn up the speed to medium. Beat until light and fluffy and the mixture cleans the sides of the bowl, several minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and oatmeal; blend well. Turn off the motor and add the dry ingredients. Very gently blend them in, pulsing the motor of your mixer as needed until it is mostly incorporated and then turning it up to medium for 10 seconds to fully blend. Gently stir in 1 cup of the chocolate chips.
- Spread batter into prepared pan. Use a spatula to push it into the corners. Drop dollops of the dulce de leche onto the batter and using a spoon, swirl them lightly into the batter to create a marbled effect. This is a heavy dough so it may take some effort to blend the caramel into the batter.
- Bake 30 to 35 minutes; the cake will be raised, brown around the edges, and the center will still jiggle. Spin the cake pan so that the side that was facing the front of the oven is now facing the back. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until center is set. Depending on your oven, this may take a bit longer. The cake will rise until taller than the sides of the pan but will settle back as the center finishes. My cake ended up right at the rim of the pan.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 cup chocolate chips. When they are melted, spread them over the top with an offset spatula. Set pan on a wire rack to cool.
- When the bottom layer is cool, transfer pan to the refrigerator until the chocolate on top has set (about 10 minutes), cut into bars and serve. Best eaten warm on the day baked. Reheat gently before serving if desired.
- Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
- Yield: about 24 servings (this is a very rich cake and you only need a small piece per serving)
- 14 oz (1 can) sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk!)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Pour sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) in a shallow baking dish. I usually use a glass pie plate so I can easily monitor the color. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in another, larger baking dish. Pull out the oven rack and place the containers on it. Pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of the foil-covered dish. Very carefully push the rack back into the oven and close the door.
- Bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours. The cooking time will depend on the depth of the baking dish you use; the shallower it is, the faster it will caramelize. Check the water level several times during baking, adding more as needed. When the milk has turn a beautiful caramel color, remove both pans from the oven. Carefully transfer the covered dish to a wire rack to cool.
- Once cool, whisk until smooth. Use in the above recipe or store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. To rewarm, use a waterbath or heat for about 10 seconds in the microwave.
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