March 25, 2008

Sarah: 2008 Cooking Adventure, Week 13

Aw. Yeah. Dulce de leche cheesecake squares, you guys.

Lisa and I made dessert for our Freaks and Geeks night potluck. They were quite good.

Did you know that dulce de leche is just sweetened condensed milk that's been a little carmelized? It's super easy to make. And here I thought it was some secret, well-guarded recipe. Turns out that even we can make it.

Actually, most parts of this recipe are surprisingly easy. Graham cracker crust? Fast and simple. Dulce de leche? No problem. Cheesecake? We have no fear! Chocolate ganache-like glaze? Not tricky. The only thing that you have to be careful on with this recipe is planning ahead. The cheesecake has to be in the fridge for many hours before you can add the chocolate glaze and serve the squares.

The pan for the cheesecake is only 9x9, but don't let that deceive you. Once you cut it up into little squares, you will have a ton of bite-sized treats. Each one is pretty rich, so we had a bunch left over after serving them to six people.

Recipe is after the jump.

Smitten Kitchen's Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares

Time: 9 3/4 hr (includes chilling) (about 1 hour active time)
Makes 64 (1-inch) petits fours

For crust
3 graham crackers, crumbled (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup whole milk
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup dulce de leche (12 1/2 oz) (recipe follows)

For glaze
3 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Dulce de Leche (Milk Caramel)

Pour 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk into top of double-boiler pan; cover. Place over boiling water. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 50 minutes, or until thick and light caramel-colored.

Remove from heat. Whisk until smooth.

Make crust (you can easily do this while the dulce de leche is on the stove): Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325įF. 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.

Make filling: 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 (we fit ours in a 9◊13-inch baking pan) 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. (Donít skip this step! Smitten Kitchen isn't kidding when she says this is crucial to making perfect, neat squares.)

Note: Cheesecake (without glaze) can be chilled up to 3 days.

Posted by sarah at March 25, 2008 11:48 PM

I'm drooling soooo much. Those look incredible and everyone knows you eat with your eyes first if Food Network has taught us anything. I have also learned from Food Network how to lose a guy in 10 days. Sooo great channel.

Posted by: Jeremy on March 25, 2008 09:49 AM

Those look tastey! I might have to try whipping those up one day.

Posted by: Marci on March 25, 2008 11:25 AM
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