Dulce de Leche Brownies

What’s your kind of comfort food?

One of the favorite things I love to eat with bread is condensed milk. It is pure indulgence. I don’t know if that makes me weird or if there are also other people who share the same weirdness with me… anyway… This is not about condensed milk. This is something even better than that.

Have you ever tried dulce de leche? Oh my gosh. It’s probably the best thing in this world… next to… Hmm, I don’t really know what is better than dulce de leche.

I have been making my own dulce de leche for over a year now. In the Philippines, where I live, it’s so hard look for the canned variety.

Making dulce de leche from scratch is very easy. Really! All you need is a can of sweetened condensed milk (label peeled off) and a can of boiling water. The milk has to be submerged in the water (water should reach about 3/4 the can) and boiled for over 3-4 hours.

My favorite way to bake with dulce de leche is pairing it with anything chocolate. And today, I’ll be sharing with you a gooey and fudgy brownie recipe laced with dulce de leche.

Very sinful and delicious, I tell you. :)

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Brownies 
4 oz baking chocolate, chopped (mix of unsweetened and semi-sweet)
1 stick salted butter, cubed
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 can dulce de leche, slightly warmed

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8 in or 11x8 in pan and line with foil with enough overhang. Lightly grease foil with butter. 
Melt chocolate and butter together over pan of simmering water. Let cool for a few minutes then whisk in sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time followed by vanilla extract. 
Fold in flour and salt until no streaks of flour remain. 
Spread batter into prepared pan. Drop dollops of dulce de leche on top of batter. Run a sharp knife along the batter to make swirls. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until center is almost set. 
Let brownies cool in the pan and carefully turn them out of the pan and let cool completely. 
Cut the brownies into squares and serve. 
Best served with ice cream and extra dulce de leche drizzle.


Learn how to make dulce de leche here.


Pretzel Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies


How's your Christmas holiday coming along? I hope you're having a blast!

Well, as for me... I spent Christmas eve with at my Lola's house in Alabang. And as always, I was in charge of the cupcakes. Sadly, the cupcakes kinda got ruined during the commute from my house in San Juan to Alabang. If you live in Manila you know how far that is even without traffic.
Anyway... Christmas has been kinda so-so for the past few years. I haven't spent it with my family because of work commitments. Last year, I had to spend it in Manila because we had to run payroll for our client. This year, I had to work today and tomorrow in case an urgent training request comes up. But I am going home for New Year's eve.

New Year's eve celebration is always more festive than Christmas. I don't really know why, but it does not mean that we are taking the birth of Jesus lightly. Definitely not.

I hope it's not too late to share one of my new favorite cookie recipes. If you haven't completed your gift list yet, now is the perfect time to make these!

This will not disappoint, I promise. :)



Pretzel Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from
Sally's Baking Addiction
Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies

2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 tbsp (1.5 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pretzels (chocolate-coated, salted or plain)
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour and baking soda. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Gradually add flour mixture and mix on low speed until a few streaks of flour is left.

With a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in pretzels, butterscotch chips and chocolate chips. Do not overmix.

Chill dough for at least 30 minutes. When ready to bake, scoop onto prepared baking sheet. Top with pretzels/butterscotch/chocolate chips for garnish.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden. The cookies may seem unbaked at this point, but they will continue to cook in the pan.

Let cool completely.

* Dough can be chilled for up to 5 days.
* Keep dough cold/chilled while the batches are baking.
* Eggs and butter should be at room temperature.



Enjoy the rest of the holiday! :)


Snickers Brownies

Hello, December! Please be good to me. ;)

It’s 22 days before Christmas, but I am not really looking forward to it that much. I have so much baking to do for Christmas, you see. Don’t get me wrong, I love baking and I am thrilled that my cupcakes and cookies are going to be part of other people’s Christmas spread.

I won’t be going home for Christmas since the family usually keeps it simple; we go all out for New Year, though.

Anyway, that’s still three weeks away. In other news, I just turned 28 last Sunday! It’s not so bad. Haha!

I chose to spend my birthday in solitude. I went home to Urdaneta and spend the weekend at the resort owned by my Dad’s clan. I haven’t been home in a long time. I would normally drop by for lunch or dinner when my friends and I go out of town and it’s along the way.

It felt so different to be traveling alone. I haven’t done so in such a long time. It was even more surreal to be spending my birthday at the resort. The last time I celebrated there was 10 years ago. It was like a homecoming of some sort.

You know the feeling of being alone but not lonely? Yes, that’s exactly how I felt last weekend. It was a good feeling – being able to relax and reflect on the last 27 years of my life.

It was a quiet birthday, and I could not have asked for anything more.

So, what’s the best thing to do on the first day of my 28th year?

Bake, of course! I wanted to bake something nice. Hmm, truth be told, I was just looking for an excuse to make something… anything. Hahaha.

I wanted to make Nutella Swirl Mini Cheesecakes, but I ran out of cream cheese. Oh, what are the odds? Rummaging through my fridge, I realized I had too much chocolates, it fills the last shelf! I actually had 3 bags of Snickers waiting to be devoured, so I thought, why not make Snickers Brownies?

Talk about perfect!


Snickers Brownies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate; coarsely chopped
3/4 cup butter
1 ½ cups white sugar
3 eggs; lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
12 Fun Size Snickers Candy Bars; cut into fourths

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 in baking pan with foil with enough overhang on the sides. Lightly grease with butter. Set aside.

In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt chocolate and butter until butter is melted.

Whisk until chocolate is melted and stir in sugar. Add in eggs, vanilla extract and salt.

Gradually fold in flour and stir just until combined.

Spread half of the brownie batter into prepared pan. Add an even layer of chopped Snickers and then spread the rest of the brownie batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350F. Do not overbake.

Set on wire rack and let cool in the pan completely before cutting into bars. 



Letting Go and Moving On. [the end]

It’s been almost a year since J passed away… and I guess it’s time for me to finally close that chapter in my life.

I must admit, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that he’s gone. I still remember him every now and then… and it was heartbreaking whenever I am reminded of him. But I am okay now… I have moved on and I am 1000x better. ;)

I was cleaning up my email when I came across an email I sent him last year. It was dated October 31, 2012 – 3 days before that fateful day. I don’t know if he ever got the chance to read it, I don’t even know what made me write it… All I know was that he was in the hospital… but I never knew that he was fighting for his life.

I guess it’s but fitting to end this chapter by posting that email… Reading it now, it was as if I was already saying goodbye without knowing it. Oh, the ironies of life.

Wherever you are, I know you are in a better place now. Drink a beer or two for me, will you?


Chocolate Candy Cookies

Hello, hello. I am back from another hiatus! Heehee. I knoooow, I really should take this blog more seriously. I am paying for the domain every year anyway… and I do whip up  sweet and savory {dishes} in my kitchen a few times a week. It wouldn’t really hurt if I post religiously, right? Right. Riiight.

That’s what I am going to do today… And we’ll see where this would take me in the next few weeks. ;)

I finally received my KitchenAid Artisan Mixer almost two months ago. Woohoo! My Tita from the US was so kind to get it for me and I only had to pay a fraction of the cost… I paid Php 8,000 and it usually retails for Php 25,000. Talk about cheap!

The mixer occupied more than half of the huge balikbayan box. Other items were books for my cousin, DVDs, magazines and toys for my Mom and Tita in CDO and of course, chocolates for the kiddos! I have yet to ship the remaining items to CDO and I was itching to make use of the chocolates… which I eventually did over the weekend. Ooops.

I have been seeing too much recipes for brownies and cookies stuffed with candy bars, M&Ms, caramels, and other sweet delights. I have tried my hand at stuffing caramels into brownies and chocolate chip cookies, which were received with delight by friends and co-workers. But I have yet to try candy bars and M&Ms in a cookie… and I have an abundance of chocolates stashed away at home.

Or in this case… I had a stash. I used to. They’re all gone now.

Yes, ma’am. I stuffed ‘em candies in chewy cookies. I saw the recipe from Cookies and Cups and I tried making a batch earlier today. Ooh la la.

It’s a bit on the sweet side, but still chewy and yummy. I might reduce the sugar the next time I make them.  

Chocolate Candy Cookies
* Halved original recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups assorted candy
(I eye-balled the measurement and used a mix of chopped up Baby Ruth, Snickers, Twix, Milk Duds, M&Ms, and Reese Pieces)
* Sea salt for sprinkling
Line cookie sheet with parchment or silicone baking sheet. Set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 325F. While pre-heating, place butter and peanut butter in a heatproof bowl. Place bowl inside the oven and let butter melt halfway through, about 7-10 mins.
Remove butters from oven and whisk until completely melted and combined. Let cool.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix eggs and sugars. Mix on medium speed until combined. Turn speed to low and slowly mix in butter mixture. Continue stirring until combined.
Gradually add flour mixture until just combined. Add in assorted candies and mix until evenly distributed.
Scoop and shape dough about the size of a golf ball. Place on prepared cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. (You may want to sprinkle sea salt on top of cookies to balance out flavor).
Bake for 10-12 mins and let cool on cookie sheet for 5 mins before transferring to wire rack.
I made around 36 cookies from this recipe. :)


Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Good Friday morning, loves!

It's a cold and dreary morning, isn't it? But hey, don't let the weather bring you down! For starters, it's a holiday and you should be enjoying the long weekend! If you don't have work, that is. ;)

I have work tonight, so yeah, no holiday for me. I just started at my new job... and I'm loving every moment I spend inside the training room. It's been a long time and I have really missed it.

Regardless of the weather and the no-holiday week, there's still a lot to celebrate and be thankful for:
* A new job that I love doing
* Re-starting the career I almost left behind
* Going back to training
* More time to blog
* God's guidance and provision
* Ex-colleagues who remain to be my friends
* Friends and family who are always there to support me
... and a whole lot more.

And because I am feeling a little more cheerful than usual, I baked a delicious batch of chocolate chip cookies in celebration.


This is a new recipe I was so eager to try, so I didn't wait for the weekend and immediately whipped up a batch as soon as I got home.

The verdict? Ohmygah, it's prolly better than my go-to recipe! Soft, chewy and bursting with chocolate goodness. YUM-OH!

Head on over to Pinch of Yum for the recipe. You'll thank me after, that's for sure. ;)


Just a few notes:

* I forgot to NOT let the butter melt completely
* I used around 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
* I used more brown sugar than white
* I used a mix of chopped semisweet chocolate, 3-4 pcs native tablea and a few pieces of chopped Flat Tops (a local chocolate)
* I was too lazy to shape them with my hands, so I used a cookie scoop

Even with all these deviations, the cookies turned out great. Really great. AMAZING, really. Next time I’m making these, I'll make sure to follow the recipe to a T.

These are perfect with a cold glass of milk!


EID MUBARAK to our Muslim friends! Happy long weekend to others!


Tablea Brownies with Chocolate Caramel Filling

Why, hello… I am back! Hopefully for the long haul, haha. I have been on a long blog-hiatus and I terribly miss writing. Ever since I have moved to a different post at work last year (it’s been a year, to be exact), I haven’t had enough time to work on this little baby.
I am still baking, a lot, actually… but I am only human and most of my days are consumed with work-related stuff, cupcake orders, and a bit of social life. Anyway, since I have time on my hands and I have nowhere to go, let me go back to blogging.
On today’s agenda: tablea, my favorite kind of chocolate and caramel. This is one of my favorite flavor combinations. It is pure indulgence. Really.


I wanted to make caramel from scratch, but I haven’t had luck lately. A fool-proof recipe, I have learned, is using caramel candies and milk or cream. In the US they use Kraft caramel candies, but those are kind of hard to find or expensive in Manila.
When I went grocery shopping last month, I saw a pack of locally-made caramel sweets for Php 35. Right there and then, I had a euhreka moment, haha. I said, “Why not use this for caramel sauce?” I bought a pack and it’s been stuck in my pantry until today.


Two weeks ago, I watched an episode of Pioneer Woman on Lifestyle Network. Ree was making Knock You Naked Brownies and it was truly mouthwatering. I decided to make them today… but I found out that the recipe calls for boxed cake mix which I don’t have on hand. Better make everything from scratch then. Right? Right.
Enough with my thought bubble. Here’s the recipe!

Tablea Brownies with Chocolate Caramel Filling Inspired by: Pioneer Woman
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

Caramel Sauce
20 pcs caramel candies, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose cream

3 oz tablea, chopped (about 8-10 pieces)
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped, set aside
Make the Caramel Sauce:
Place chopped caramel candies and cream in a heat-proof bowl. Set on top of bowl of simmering water. Stir frequently until caramel melts and mixture is smooth. Set aside.
Make the Brownies:
Grease an 8x8 pan with butter, line with parchment paper and grease again. Set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Place chopped tablea and butter in a heat-proof bowl. Set on top of bowl of simmering water, stirring frequently. Remove from heat until mostly melted. Stiir for a few seconds, let cool for a few minutes.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat together eggs and sugar. Add vanilla and chocolate mixture. Mix until incorporated. Add salt and fold in flour until mixed.
Pour 2/3 of batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven. Top with chopped chocolate then pour caramel sauce on top. Spread until mostly even. Pour remaining brownie batter on top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes more or until tester comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack before cutting.




The Saddest Goodbye [part 3]

[... a continuation.]

I never knew he was sick. He lived an active lifestyle, both in a good and bad way.

He played a few sports but also drank alcohol and smoked excessively. He quit smoking sometime in 2011, I think.

As I have mentioned in my previous post, we rarely talked after our "non-relationship." But last year, 2012, we did communicate more than we did in the past 2 years.

In the recent months, he would send me a text message out of the blue just to ask how I was doing. If I was feeling frustrated with work, I also bug him just to get distracted.

In October, we communicated more than usual. He wanted to see me to catch up. It never happened, I was either busy with work or I already had previous plans. When I'm free, he was the one who had other commitments.

Then we finally found a date we agreed on - November 4 but we were also planning to meet on October 28.

That never came to be... On Saturday, October 27th, he told me had to run some errands for his Dad. I didn't mind, I was already used to that. We always had issues with "planned dates" when we were still going out.

That Sunday, I sent him a message telling him that "Some things never changed." I never got a reply, and I didn't bother.

On Monday morning, as I was going through my morning chores, he sent me a message saying sorry for flaking out on me. He said he was in the hospital. I got a little worried and asked if he was okay. I never got any reply.

As it turned out, that was his last message. I never found out why he was in the hospital because as fate would have it, the other messages I sent to him that day never got sent.

That week, I found myself restless and bothered. I didn't really know why, but on October 31, I felt the need to send him an email, which turned out to be my farewell letter to him. I didn't know then, but maybe it was the universe's way of telling me to say goodbye before it's too late. I don't know if he ever got to read it, but I'll include it in this series, for posterity's sake.

On the morning of November 3, in between watching re-runs of The Voice and checking FB/Twitter posts, a FB status message stood out. A friend posted "RIP, [first name + "nickname" + last name]..."

I was beyond shocked when I read that... I couldn't believe it, how can that be happening? We were just texting a week before.

I checked his FB wall and it was flooded with posts of condolences.
I never knew what happened. I neither went to his wake nor the funeral. All I know was that he was in the Philippine Heart Center, confined in the ICU for a couple of days. They said he died of internal bleeding and cardiac arrest.

Until today, I still can’t come to grips with what happened. For the most part of November and December, I felt as if my heart was broken every single day. It's worse than a break up.

I never got to say goodbye, say my thank you's and make peace with him.

This is why I am writing about him again... to finally say goodbye and close this chapter of my life.

From Google.

The only truly painful goodbyes are the ones that are never said and never explained.

True that.

So Long, Sweet Summer [part 2]

[… a continuation.]

Whatever we had ended 3 years ago... but we still remained to be friends. We rarely kept in touch, but when we do find time to catch up via text, Skype, FB or even email, it was like nothing changed.

In the 3-4 years that we went out, we never had big fights. I couldn’t even remember a time when we had a [serious] argument. Sure, we’ve had our share of word wars, but those were mostly for the sake of discussion.

I loved talking to him, I never felt bored during our many conversations. It was always fun, entertaining, witty and sometimes intelligent... I always attributed that to the fact that we both came from the same school, I'm from UP Diliman while he's from UP LB then cross-enrolled to Diliman.

Come to think of it, he's the only guy I dated who graduated from UP. Maybe that's why he always stood out.

He's the very first person who encouraged me to become a trainer. He believed I had what it takes to become one. He even took the risk in offering me a post in one of the companies he helped put up. I accepted his offer, but only for one project. When he finally decided to get me full-time, I said no.

I always rejected him. He tried to "propose" commitment at least twice... and I always begged off. I was scared to take the risks. That was probably the only thing missing in the equation.

Our so-called non-relationship ended because I suddenly had a boyfriend... I told him about it on Christmas Day of 2008, of all days. How evil of me, right?

I knew I hurt him big time when he found out... How can I be in a relationship when just a few weeks ago before that we were coming up with our Christmas wish lists?

I also don't know how it came to be. I wanted to whack my head when I was reading through my old Multiply posts.

Looking back, I wish I never went into that relationship. It was a good 2 years wasted... But that's for another time.

As for j... It was good while it lasted... No, it was great.  Even as a friend, he's always someone I can run to when I want to rant. He always had something good to say. He always had a way in making me feel better. He always listened without judging.

He was keen on details. During one of our SMS exchanges late last year, he reminded me of one of our past conversations. It had something to do with my aspirations and dreams 6 years ago. I could barely remember having that kind of talk with him, but he did. And he told me he remembered everything.

I wanted to tear up when I read his message. I never knew he valued our conversations enough for him remember, even 6 years after.

How I wish I have saved our last few conversations on Skype and through texts cos these are the only ways I can preserve what we had.

I can no longer bring those back. I would no longer have a constant person to turn to for anything.

On November 3rd, I lost him to death – I lost him forever.

Image from Google


In writing, I forget. [part 1]

This is for the one who got away... for the one who could've been the one, but never was.

He went by a lot of names on my phonebook. It used to be his first name + last name and then we started going out. He became "...", "zzz" and for the longest time, "j."

Yes, just j. In small letters.

I met him in April of 2006. He was my trainer and I was his trainee.

We didn't have any close personal encounter during training... He went to some of our wave's countless inuman sessions after work. But that was all.

He listened to some of my calls during A-Bay, but we never had any written coachings - he always told me to take it as a "coaching opportunity."
That was all. I went AWOL after a few months and then he sent me a message asking if I was okay and wondering why I went missing.

I went back to school and my TM couldn't give me a nice schedule as he promised.

We went out a few days after that first non-work related text.

I didn't know that was the first of many which spanned 6 years.

Wow, more than half a decade. And we weren't even together.

We were never together... although we could've been, I always rejected him.

When we started out, I told him I didn't want commitment, no attachments, no complications.

Of course, that never came to be, because I fell for him. I guess he did for me, too.

Why am I suddenly writing about him?

Because I have to. Everytime I got so frustrated about our situation, I write about it - on my planner, in paper, even on the web. My Livejournal and Multiply posts circa 2006-2008 were mostly about him. They were mostly angst-ridden and unfair to him.

This time, for the last time, will be about the good stuff. I am no longer the angsty 20-something years ago. But even so, I have to write about him.

I am writing to finally let go.

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

[Image from Google]

Happy 2013!

Hi loves!

I know, I’ve been MIA on the blogging world for a loooong time.

I’ve had a lot on my shoulders for the most part of 2012 and didn’t have enough time to write.

Anyway… as quoted from my Facebook – 

2012 was a rough year, but I’m claiming that 2013 will be bigger, greater and brighter.

Cheers to the new year! :)

Photo grabbed from Google