Of the gazillion recipes I have saved to try, several of them incorporate dulce de leche. In case you are not familiar, dulce de leche is basically a type of caramel made from sweetened condensed milk. Up until now, I have been unable to try any of these recipes because I have never been able to find dulce de leche in any stores in my area. Finally, I decided to just try making my own dulce de leche at home and give this recipe a try – and of course, on this trip to the store, I actually found cans of the stuff! (In the Mexican part of the ethnic foods aisle, in case you might have success finding yours there as well.) In case you are unable to find dulce de leche in your area, there are multiple methods for making your own at home. Personally, I would opt for the safe way detailed here by Smitten Kitchen. Another option is to boil the cans as many do, but with the possibility of a major explosion, I probably would not be inclined to try this.
These little cheesecake squares are the perfect two-bite dessert. They start with a simple graham cracker crust, topped with a thick layer of creamy dulce de leche cheesecake filling, and finished with a thin dark chocolate glaze. They are just heavenly! The filling is amazingly light and smooth and the dulce de leche lends the perfect warm caramel flavor. Incredibly easy to make, the hardest part about these is waiting for them to cool, chill, glaze, and chill some more. I cut these into 36 pieces and thought they were just the right size. I put them in mini muffin wrappers for serving which worked out just perfectly. Ben’s coworkers certainly seemed to enjoy them since very few returned home!
Dulce De Leche Cheesecake Bars
For the crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
1 tsp. plain (unflavored) gelatin
¼ cup whole milk
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
Scant ½ tsp. salt
1 cup dulce de leche
For the chocolate glaze:
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tsp. light corn syrup
Preheat the oven to 325° F. To make the crust, line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Toss with a fork to combine. Spread the crumb mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking pan and press down into an even layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling, sprinkle the gelatin over the whole milk in a small bowl and let stand about 2 minutes. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth. Add in the eggs, salt and gelatin mixture and beat until well combined and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in the dulce de leche and mix on low speed just until combined and smooth.
Pour the filling on top of the crust and smooth with a spatula. Set the dish inside a 9×13-inch dish. Add hot water to the larger pan to create a water bath. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the center is just set. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for 2 hours. Cover, transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 6 hours before glazing.
To make the glaze, combine the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in the top of a double boiler and heat until the chocolate has melted. Stir until smooth. Pour over the cheesecake, tilting the pan to coat the top evenly. Chill, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
To serve, lift the cheesecake from the pan using the foil lining. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1-inch squares using a thin knife, wiping the blade between each cut.