Thursday, March 3, 2011

dulce de leche cheesecake bars [take two]

Midterms, baking. Baking, midterms. It's a tough life when you have to somehow alwayschoosebakingoverstudying decide between one or the other. On Wednesday evening I broke up the monotony of studying Spanish lit by baking.

This is my second attempt at dulce de leche cheesecake bars. Not the first wasn't good, but I didn't realize until I looked over the recipe that it calls for gelatin. And I'm just so damn tired of gelatin. So I figured I'd make up a new recipe. This one has a graham cracker crust [because, what can I say, I'm obsessed], a cheesecake filling infused with dulce de leche, and a salted dulce de leche swirl topping. Believe it or not, it's not too sweet. It's actually almost not sweet enough, based on what you would expect. In the best way possible.

Why dulce de leche? Well, I officially got into the Valencia study abroad program on Sunday, las fallas are happening this month, I went to a Spanish poetry reading on Monday night, watched Biutiful on Tuesday night, and had two Spanish midterms this week. I've been in a rather culturally Hispanic mood.

Mostly, though, it's because these were baked for two individuals:
  1. Rudhdi as a congratulations for making SR: I'm so proud of you, Roods, and never doubted you for one second. You truly deserve it, dear; you'll be a phenomenal SR next year :)
  2. My darling Hannah, because I've promised to send you baked goods for months now and miss you terribly. I will be shipping these off as soon as I'm back in Cville next week, so you should have them delivered within the next 7 days or so. Love you and hope everything's going well!
artificial lighting is the bane of my existence. can't wait for sunny days.
Dulce de leche, for all you folk who have heard the name and know it's delicious but don't have any clue as to what the heck it is, is more or less sweetened condensed milk that has been heated until it caramelizes. Yes. Liquid caramel. Addicting too, might I add.

[ALSO, can I just say that if I walk into one more grocery store, ask someone where I can find dulce de leche, and have them give me a look of utter blankness and ask me to repeat myself, I'm going to snap. It can be found in the Hispanic/International food aisle, just by the way.

Though, I suppose you could bypass the irritation of having grocery store clerks completely misunderstand you and direct you to the evaporated milk section by heating up your own dulce de leche from scratch. But I'm not patient skilled enough for that.]

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars
Adapted from my brain. And components of old recipes.

For the crust, you'll need:
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs [about 12 full wafers, crushed]
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 8 tbsp butter, melted

For the cream cheese filling, you'll need:
  • 3 8-oz packages of cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 generous tbsp of dulce de leche
  • 1 tbsp vanilla 
  • 2 eggs

For the salted dulce de leche swirl, you'll need:
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp reserved cream cheese filling

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line and grease a 13x9-inch pan with aluminum foil.

To prepare crust, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a bowl. Pour in melted butter and mix well. Pour crumbs into the prepared pan and press evenly across the base. Bake for 10 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Allow crust to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare cream cheese filling. Beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add in sugar, dulce de leche, and vanilla. Mix until blended. Add in eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Reserve two tbsp of the filling, and pour the remainder on top of cooled crust and spread evenly with a spatula.

To prepare dulce de leche swirl, mix dulce de leche and salt. Add in reserved cream cheese filling and mix well until filling is smooth. Drop dollops of filling evenly on top of cream cheese filling, leaving generous amounts of space in between. Using a knife, cut swirls through the dollops, being careful not to draw up any of the crust. Bake for about 30 minutes, until bars are soft and springy to the touch. Let cool completely on a cooling rack, and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours [preferably overnight] before cutting.

Bars, covered, will keep well in the fridge for up to a week, in the freezer for up to 3 months. To freeze bars, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, then once more with aluminum foil. To defrost, move bars to the refrigerator and let dethaw overnight.

My swirls never turn out as well as I wish they would. It's something I need to work on. Also should have thought of some way to dilute the caramel further. I thought about microwaving, but that seemed counter-intuitive. 

Anyway, I am finally done with midterms, for the week. Now I get a supposed week off, which translates into me going home for the weekend before coming back to Cville to study for upcoming midterms, outline upcoming papers, and work for 20 hours.

I can't deny that the thought of me being unable to actually sleep in is depressing. In fact, it cuts me a little inside. But I need the money. Baking doesn't come cheap, ya know.

...sometimes I don't think it's worth it.

And then I bake something like this and that thought melts away.


Also, I'd love to thank Tastespotting for featuring me! I've always loved the site, and find many of my best recipes from bloggers who have contributed, so I'm very honored to be a part of it! So for all of you have stumbled upon my blog via Tastespotting, welcome! It's lovely to have you, and I hope you'll be back for more! :)


  1. This looks incredibly delicious!!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  2. Fantastic idea! I just saw how to make dulce on Food Network, so I'm going to try this recipe from scratch. Great variation on blondies. Liked your tidbit about trying to ask for dulce in the store. Haha I hate when that happens- how does everyone not know what we do???!

  3. You just missed World Dulce de Leche Day on February 28th, these would have been a perfect way to celebrate!

  4. meri himmat nahi bananeki... u r too good dear god bless u!! aapke hato main jadu hain... photos are so wonderful.

  5. @Mary: Thanks so much!

    @Anonymous: I know!! Haha I'm glad there is someone else out there to share in my frustrattion!

    @Brilynn: Ahh! I'll keep it in mind for this February, for sure :)

    @Manu Nirali: Thank you so much sweetheart! Jadu to nahin hain, magar phirbhi shukriyah :)

  6. I had to laugh about you asking where to find the dulce de leche in the grocery store. I was trying to find pancetta and got the strangest looks from the employees at a local store. I asked a lady working in the deli if they carried it & she said she didn't know, but I should check the bakery because they probably have it.

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