They fill your entire home with the most incredible smell. I topped these ones with sea salt, dried rosemary, and tabasco sauce (a crazy-sounding but delicious combination) but you can feel free to experiment with different herbs and spices, both fresh and dried. The nuts only take about 20 minutes to make from start to eating, and are 1000x worth the effort. The same can be said for the salted dulce de leche, although that one takes a bit more patience. You can buy dulce de leche (a very creamy caramel) from the store, yes, but that dulce de leche is usually super thick, and if you want to drizzle it over the cake you’d need to heat it up with a bit of milk to thin it out a bit. I like making it from scratch, too, because I can control the amount of sugar better, since the store-bought varieties tend to be too sweet and I love the flavor that honey adds to the mix.
Dulce de leche takes about 50 minutes to make, and the vast majority of that time is spent near the stove top so you can stir it every couple minutes to keep it from burning on the bottom. I usually just pull a chair up to the stove and read a book during this time (but not too good of a book, don’t want to get distracted and accidentally burn it…) If I was craftier, knitting would also be a good use of time during this period. But you get the idea; just because it’s a bit time-consuming does not mean it isn’t doable. Plus, at the end of it you’ll be left with a bit of extra dulce de leche to enjoy on top of fruit and other sweets. And who couldn’t use a little bit more dulce de leche in their life?
Chocolate Sheet Cake With Toasted Nuts & Salted Dulce De Leche
Chocolate Sheet Cake
- 1 1/4 cups warm milk
- 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon chile powder preferably chipotle
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup mixed raw almonds cashews, & walnuts
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon tabasco sauce or other vinegar-based hot sauce
- parchment paper
Salted Dulce de Leche
- 12 oz evaporated milk
- 3/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt
- Begin by preparing the dulce de leche. In a small thick-bottomed pot, mix together the evaporated milk, honey, and butter over medium low heat until combined. Allow to cook, stirring every few minutes, for about 45-55 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and turned a deep gold color. Remove from heat, stir in the sea salt, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- To make the cake, mix together the milk and cocoa powder until well blended, then set the mixture aside. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and chile powder and set the bowl aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the eggs and sugar until combined, then add the olive oil and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Alternate between adding half the flour mixture and half the cocoa mixture until the batter just smoothes out. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into a well-greased and lightly-floured roughly 8 x 12 inch pan. Place in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
- While the cake is cooling, you can prepare the toasted nuts. Melt the butter and sugar in a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat, stirring to incorporate the sugar. Once the sugar has melted, add the nuts and stir to coat them in the mixture. Let them sit in the pan for a couple minutes until they start smelling slightly toasty, then stir it up again. Repeat this process until most of the nuts are lightly browned and toasted on part of their surface and the pan is very aromatic with the smell of toasted nuts. Remove the pan from the heat and empty the mixture onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Smooth it out so the nuts are in one layer, then sprinkle the salt, rosemary, and tobacco sauce over the nuts. Place them in the freezer for 10 minutes to get hard and crunchy, then remove them and break the sheet of nuts apart with your hands.
- Drizzle the cake with the dulce de leche and top with the toasted nuts. Serve immediately.