Friday, January 22, 2010
Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares
I made these delectable little bites as a side dessert for the large birthday party of a dear friend. Well, it seemed large to me. We had 27 adults attending the party, with 10 children and two babysitters upstairs and two babies with their moms. We hosted the party - but thankfully did not have to provide all the food! This was actually the only "food" item I made, along with my Party Punch (which was a HUGE hit). Since there were so many people, I doubled the recipe found at Smitten Kitchen, which made a 8 x 8 pan. I made mine in a 13 x 9" pan.
We had a lot of cheesecake squares.
And a lot of leftovers. Which was just fine with me! I was able to send quite a few home with the birthday lady and still have some left in my freezer (which taste amazing frozen, by the way!)
The caramel flavor didn't come through as much as I was expecting, but it actually is intensified when they're frozen, go figure. At any rate, these are wonderful, and surprisingly easy.
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4-oz envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup whole milk
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
scant teaspoon salt
2 cups dulce de leche (recipe follows)
6 oz (1/2 cup) fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped (I used semisweet chocolate chips)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 teaspoons light corn syrup
Make crust: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Line bottom and sides of an 13 x 9" 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. 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 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. (Don’t skip this step! A clean knife is essential for uber-neat squares.)
Note: Cheesecake (without glaze) can be chilled up to 3 days.
Dulce de Leche (Milk Caramel) - makes a little more than 1 cup (I had to use two cans for this recipe, and it took over two hours to get to the right color. Next time I'll cook each can separately to save time)
Pour one can (14 ounce) 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.