Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Setting the "Bar" High for Recital Receptions

Receptions are my number one venue for baking aside from birthday celebrations. I tend to lean towards cookies and bars for these events so distribution can be more easily achieved for a larger group. For my recital, I baked two sets of bars that were oh so good! I transported them to the recital in tupperware and plastic wrap (another reason for choosing bars and cookies over cakes). The two bars I made were Dulce de Leche Brownies and Chewy Toffee Blondies.

These brownies were devoured in no time at all. The combination of chocolate and homemade dulce de leche was an irresistible result. These brownies should be made the day ahead of time to allow the dulce de leche to set as well as time for enhancing the flavor.

This recipe comes frm one of my favorite pastry chefs, David Lebovitz. The recipe calls for 1 cup of Dulce de Leche. You can either make you own or buy it at a store. Here is a link for making you own Dulce de Leche. He uses the oven method rather than the stovetop one as it is much safer as well as more consistent. I also omitted the optional pecans/walnuts. These brownies will keep, stored in tupperware, for up to 3 days.

Dulce de Leche Brownies
Yields: 12 brownies


  • 8 tablespoons (115g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 ounces (170g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup (25g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup (140g) flour
  • 1 cup (100 g) toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Dulce de Leche (or Cajeta)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 C).
  2. Line a 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. If it doesn't reach all the way up and over all four sides, cross another sheet of foil over it, making a large cross with edges that overhang the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. Mix in the nuts, if using.
  4. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Here comes the fun part.
Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.
  5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

The second type of bar I made was Chewy Toffee Blondies. I LOVE blondies! Granted, they are basically brown sugar bars but that in itself makes them delicious. Like brownies, you can add pretty much anything you want to them (such as nuts, chocolate, etc). This recipe is from another blog I like to follow called Not Derby Pie. She adopted this recipe from Dorie Greenspan. I omitted the last 2 ingredients as she did (coconut and walnuts) and used butterscotch chips. These bars were still perfectly moist, but naturally the brownies overshadowed them at my recital reception.

Chewy Toffee Blondies
Yields: 32 bars


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store-bought chocolate chips

  • 1 cup butterscotch chips or Heath Toffee Bits
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (optional)

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan and put it on a baking sheet.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or using a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, until well incorporated. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chips, nuts and coconut, if using. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and use the spatula to even the top as best you can.
  4. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the blondies comes out clean. The blondies should pull away from the sides of the pan a little and the top should be a nice honey brown. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for about 15 minutes before turning the blondies out onto another rack. Invert onto a rack and cool the blondies to room temperature right side up.
With my teacher, Renee Krimsier, after the recital

1 comment: said...

I love this post! Would you write about 200 words for my newsletter, describing the effect of combining your passions (food & music) on your audience/ recital receptions? Please email me

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