Monday, December 27, 2010

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

Hello friends! I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday. With the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas and quality time spent with friends and family over the holidays (plus coping with one annoying little 24 hour flu-bug), I haven't had time to write. But there has certainly been lots of cooking and baking going on in my kitchen. It was difficult to decide which recipe I would post first from those holiday cooking adventures. I finally settled on this recipe for Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars, because it may just be my favorite out of ALL of the recipes that I tried over the past few days. After finishing his helping of this cheesecake at our family Christmas last night, my dad announced, "That one is going to win some awards!" (He's a pretty good judge from years and years of taste-testing 4-H baking projects made by my sisters and I).

These really are amazing!

I discovered this recipe on my blogging friend Beth's site The Seventh Level of Boredom. She described them as "a very bad idea". A bad idea, but only because you might want to eat the whole pan yourself! My advice is to make these NOW... before the new year, so they don't get in the way of keeping any resolutions.

These were pretty easy to throw together. Just a standard graham cracker crust: Butter, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon. (Loved the cinnamon in there with this!)

Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Meanwhile, mix together sugar and 3 packages of cream cheese.

Once smooth, add the eggs, one at a time. Beat after each addition.

Now for the Dulce de Leche. Dulce de Leche = milk caramel. I bought mine in the International Food section of my local supermarket. This stuff was way thicker then I thought it would be. I thought it would flow like a caramel sauce. But look....

even when I turned it upside down and gave it a shake, the stuff was stuck fast. It needed to be scooped out with a spoon. My guess is that the consistency of dulce de leche varies from brand to brand. The Nestle version just happens to be very thick.

Beat 1/2 cup of the dulce de leche and 2 teaspoons of vanilla into the cream cheese mixture until just combined.

Then spread the mixture over the cooled graham cracker crust.

Bake for 38 minutes or until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked.

Then cool it completely. Mine developed an extra crack while cooling. No problem though, that was just a nice little ravine for the dulce de leche glaze to collect in during the next step.

Speaking of the next it is. Melt 2/3 cup of the remaining dulce de leche in a small sauce pan (or in the microwave) with 3-5 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream. The amount of cream will vary depending on how thick your dulce de leche starts out. You want it to end up a nice, smooth pouring consistency.

Like this...

Spread the glaze evenly over the cheesecake. Then chill again for at least an hour.

Cut into 24 bars.

And serve! Give em' a little sprinkle of sea salt if it strikes your fancy. : )

This one may just make it's way into my "favorites" notebook. Thanks, Beth!

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 1/4 cups finely ground graham crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup purchased dulce de leche
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup purchased dulce de leche
3 tablespoons (or more) heavy whipping cream
Sea salt

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter; stir until coated. Transfer crumb mixture to pan. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake until crust is light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.

For filling:
Blend cream cheese and sugar in processor until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, processing 3 to 5 seconds to blend between additions. Add dulce de leche and vanilla; process until blended, about 10 seconds. Spread batter evenly over cooled crust. Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 38 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

For glaze:
Heat dulce de leche and 3 tablespoons cream in microwave-safe bowl in 10-second intervals until melted. Stir to blend, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if too thick to pour (amount of cream needed will depend on brand of dulce de leche). Pour glaze over cooled cheesecake; spread evenly. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour (glaze will not be firm). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill.
Cut cheesecake lengthwise into 4 strips, then crosswise into 6 strips, forming 24 bars. Sprinkle bars with fleur de sel.

Note: I used my mixer, rather then a food processor to blend the filling ingredients.


teresa said...

SO yummy! i love dulce de leche!

Kathleen said...

These look outrageously fabulous!

Desi said...

Krista these sound AMAZING! I love anything caramel, and the extra sea salt on top.... WOW! I hope to make these in 2011! Hope you had a great holiday too :)

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