Even Better Brownies: 50 Standout Bar Recipes for Every Occasion, written by Mike Johnson, features a variety of fun and delicious treats in bar form! A few highlights include Cinnamon Roll Blondies, Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bites, Malted Chocolate Brownies, Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars, and Brûléed Meyer Lemon Bars. I will also be sharing his recipe for Dulce de Leche Brownies following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Mike Johnson is a self-taught baker, recipe developer, food photographer and the creator of the baking blog, Mike Bakes NYC. His work has been featured in Bake from Scratch magazine, BuzzFeed, feedfeed, Food52, and more. He is currently based in New York City. This is Mike’s first cookbook.
Even Better Brownies
Mike begins with a short introduction and a few tips and techniques before jumping into the recipes. He definitely does provide a bar for every occasion and time of year and each one we tried turned out fantastic. The serving sizes range from Small-Batch Brownies to 8×8-inch (20×20-cm) and 9×13-inch (22×33-cm) pans.
Chapters are divided based on type of bar: Out of this World Brownies; Blondies Have More Fun; Cookies, But Make them Bars; Rich, Velvety Cheesecake Bars; Easy as Pie; and No-Bake Bars. The contents includes a list of the recipes with page number for easy reference.
Mike also provides the photography. Every single recipe is paired with a full-size photo of the finished product. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Each bar has a headnote with background information, total time, yield, and helpful notes.
Dulce de Leche Brownies
I happened to have some leftover Dulce de Leche after making my Panqueques con Dulce de Leche and the Dulce de Leche Brownies were the perfect use for it! These decadent chocolate are filled with swirls of sweet and indulgent dulce de leche for quite the spectacular treat.
I used homemade dulce de leche, but it is becoming more and more available in larger supermarkets with South American ingredients. Mike mentions to make a semi-homemade version by completely submerging “a 14-ounce (420-ml) can of sweetened condensed milk in a large saucepan of simmering water for 2 to 3 hours, refilling the pan with boiling water as needed to keep the can submerged; allow to cool completely on a wire rack before attempting to open the can since the contents will be hot and under pressure.”
Take care to not over-mix the batter. Stir in the flour just until combined with no streaks remaining. Bake just until set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean of batter.
These Dulce de Leche Brownies are delicious cold, at room temperature, or heated for a few seconds in the microwave. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2-3 days.
More Brownies and Bars
I also made Mike’s Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Swirl Brownies, Birthday Cake Blondies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, and Apple Crisp Bars.
These Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Swirl Brownies definitely are the best of both worlds. The rich and decadent brownie base is paired with swirls of a creamy vanilla bean cheesecake base.
If there is a recipe with sprinkles, Claire will find it. So of course, she was so excited to try the Birthday Cake Blondies. These easy blondies have the perfect texture and are packed with white chocolate chips and plenty of rainbow sprinkles.
The Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars were another favorite of mine. They come together easily to create a soft and chewy texture studded with chocolate chips.
Chad isn’t the biggest fan of chocolate, so I made these Apple Crisp Bars just for him. Packed with the flavors of apple pie, these bars have three different layers for a wonderful contrast in texture. Spiced apple slices are arranged over a shortbread crust and topped with a oat crumble before baking until golden and set.
Even Better Brownies is a great pick for those interested in sweet treats and bar-shaped baking. The recipes were designed for both beginner bakers and more skilled cooks who are looking for new flavors. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store and the instructions are written in a clear and concise manner.
Dulce de Leche Brownies Recipe
Excerpt from Even Better Brownies
Dulce de Leche Brownies
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup (60 grams) unsweetened natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (110 grams) dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon (8 milliliters) vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) dulce de leche divided
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Grease an 8x8-inch (20x20-cm) pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray and then line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. Grease the parchment with butter or nonstick cooking spray and then set it aside.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat until it's completely melted. Add the cocoa powder, granulated sugar and dark brown sugar and stir very well. Allow to cool for about 3 minutes before continuing.
- Add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the salt, baking powder and flour and stir until just combined and there are no more patches of flour.
- Spread about half of the batter into the prepared pan and drop 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the dulce de leche on top in dollops before swirling lightly with a toothpick or knife. Top with the remaining batter and the remaining dulce de leche and swirl again slightly.
- Bake the brownies for 27 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean of batter. Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.
- Cover and store leftover brownies in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.