A few weeks ago, my dear friend Michelle celebrated her birthday and when she asked me to bake a dessert for her celebration, I knew exactly what I had to make.
My dad used to treat my sister and me to dulce de leche when we were children because it was very popular where he was from (Argentina.) So when I found a recipe for dulce de leche cheesecake squares on the mother of all cooking blogs, Smitten Kitchen, I had to try it right away.
For those of you who have never had it, dulce de leche is basically caramelized, sweetened milk and has a gooey texture which is perfect for spreading it on basically anything like toast, scones, muffins, wherever you want it. Think of it as a sweeter caramel.
I first made them for a wedding shower I threw for my cousin and his then-fiance (now wife) last year and the whole family gobbled them up. (Which isn't surprising since my family is obsessed with food.)
I've made them several times since and every time I state again that it's probably one of the best desserts ever invented.
The only problem is, it's hard to find dulce de leche in my neighbourhood. Out of the four grocery stores near me, only one, a Metro, carries it. And when I popped by there to pick up a can for this new batch, they were out of my favourite brand and only carried Eagle brand, which to my dismay didn't taste as good as I had hoped.
Dulce de leche cheesecake squares (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes 64 (1-inch) cheesecake squares
- 1 cup graham crackers, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 3/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dulce de leche
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with 2 sheets of foil (crisscrossed), leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.
Finely grind crackers with sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor. With motor running, add butter, blending until combined. Press mixture evenly onto bottom of baking pan. Bake 10 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes.
Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small bowl and let stand 2 minutes to soften. Beat together cream cheese, eggs, salt, and gelatin mixture in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes, then stir in dulce de leche gently but thoroughly. Pour filling over crust, smoothing top, then bake in a hot water bath in oven until center is just set, about 45 minutes. Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 2 hours. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.
Glaze cake within 2 hours of serving: Heat all glaze ingredients in a double boiler or a small metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth, then pour over cheesecake, tilting baking pan to coat top evenly. Chill, uncovered, 30 minutes.
Lift cheesecake from pan using foil overhang and cut into 1-inch squares with a thin knife, wiping off knife after each cut.