This layered brownie recipe makes for an indulgent, easy-to-share dessert! Each bite of these dulce de leche coconut brownies has a perfect balance of coconut, caramel, and chocolate.
What’s better than a perfectly fudgy dark chocolate brownie?
A dark chocolate brownie topped with dulce de leche and a light, slightly crispy, coconut macaroon layer. A concoction that warm out of the oven could be ladled into bowls and topped with ice cream for the messiest sundaes you can imagine. Or, once set and cooled, cut into the most decadent brownie you’ve ever had in your life.
The kind of brownie you make for special occasions, like Thursdays, or for special people, like your mama and mother-in-law. This dessert, I made for them.
This year, I wanted to bake a treat I could ship to The Mamas inspired by the sweet flavors they like most.
I already sent cookies last year. The logistics behind shipping cake or cupcakes makes me cringe. Macarons are an option, but neither are huge fans.
What both my mother-in-law and mother enjoy is good chocolate, coconut macaroons, and caramel. Good taste, these women.
The only challenge with this brownie recipe, in my opinion, is the name! Dulce de leche coconut brownies is a mouthful! But as this is what they are, we roll with it. Especially since we can’t call them coconut caramel brownies.
What’s the difference between caramel and dulce de leche?
The reason why we can’t call these caramel coconut brownies is that we don’t use caramel. The middle layer is dulce de leche. Since I’ve seen the terms used interchangeably sometimes, let’s have a kitchen learning moment.
Caramel and dulce de leche are extremely similar. They’re both milk/cream-based, sweet, and tempting to eat straight from a spoon.
The primary difference is in the basic recipe. Caramel, whether thin like a sauce or chewy like a soft candy, is made with sugar, water (sometimes), and milk or cream. You start by caramelizing the sugar and then you add your dairy. With dulce de leche, everything is cooked together.
Dulce de leche, on the other hand, is made with condensed milk. To make dulce de leche, you cook milk and sugar down together until very thick and spreadable. I have a recipe for making it with goat’s milk (also called cajeta), here.
A few recipe notes…
Plan extra cooling time! Because of the many layers, these brownies really do need lots of extra time to cool. In fact, for clean cuts, I recommend chilling the brownies and then slicing.
While you can make the dulce de leche from scratch, I usually buy the can. To make it easier to get an even layer of dulce de leche over the brownie layer, transfer the contents of the can to a microwave-safe container. Heat it for 15 seconds at 50% power and stir. Warming the dulce de leche helps it spread just a little easier.
I also recommend using a piping bag to help distribute the dulce de leche over the brownie batter. If you try to pour it all in one spot, it’s hard to get a consistent layer over the whole pan without swirling it into the brownie batter.
The same goes for the coconut macaroon batter. While it’s easier to spread, spooning it in dollops around the pan so you don’t have to spread each as far will give you better results.
Finally, don’t cut these into huge squares. The brownies are very rich, so smaller squares are perfect. You may store extras in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or wrap individually and freeze for up to 2 months.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, darlings! Maybe you even get to share it with a woman who inspires you! Happy baking…
- 1 stick (8 tbs, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 3/4 c granulated sugar
- 3 eggs + 1 yolk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
Dulce de Leche Layer
- about 2 cups dulce de leche, store bought or homemade (see notes)
Coconut Macaroon Layer
- 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- 12 ounce can condensed milk
- 1 egg white
- pinch salt
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Spray a 9"x11" pan with nonstick spray or coat with butter, line with parchment paper, and spray or butter the paper. Set aside.
- Prepare the brownie batter by melting the butter and chocolate together in the microwave for one minute at 50% power. Stir and reheat in 15 second intervals until fully melted. You may also use a double boiler. Set aside to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly pour in the chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth. Then add the flour.
- Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared pan.
- If your dulce de leche is thick, microwave 15 seconds at 50% power to soften slightly. Spoon the caramel as evenly as possible over the brownie layer. You can also use a piping bag or plastic bag with a corner cut off to help with this step.
- Make the coconut macaroon layer by combining the unsweetened coconut and condensed milk in a mixing bowl.
- In another bowl, whip the egg white and pinch of salt until the egg white forms stiff peaks.
- Carefully fold the egg white into the coconut mixture.
- Evenly spread the coconut mixture over the brownie and dulce de leche layers.
- Bake for 45 minutes until the coconut layer is golden brown. The brownies will not appear set because the dulce de leche layer is hot.
- Remove from the oven and allow them to cool 4-6 hours before cutting.
- To make your own dulce de leche, pour the contents of a can of condensed milk into a glass jar that fits into your slow cooker. Fill the slow cooker with enough water to be level with the condensed milk. Cover the slow cooker and set it on high for about 6-7 hours until the condensed milk has thickened and turned a rich caramel color.
- To get really clean cuts, chill the cooled brownies and slice when cold!
- Leftover brownies can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. If stacking, place a sheet of parchment or wax paper between each layer of brownies. You can also individually wrap each brownie in plastic wrap and then place in an airtight container in the freezer.
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