Did you ever have one of those recipes where you had it bookmarked forever, and then you finally make it and you want to kick yourself for waiting so long? Well that is exactly what happened here. I can't even tell you how long this has been sitting in my list of "to make" recipes. Oh how I wish I had made these sooner!
Dulce de leche is hard to come by around here and I haven't gotten around to trying to make my own (plus that whole exploding can rumor kind of scares me). However, when I was in Miami over the holidays, there were jars of dulce de leche in every grocery store. I picked up one up and I knew exactly what I'd be making with it! These cheesecake squares are creamy and rich and decadent. Make sure you cut them into small pieces because just a bite or two is enough. I really love the way the creamy cheesecake contrasts with the texture of the glaze on top. At first I actually thought about skipping the glaze because I didn't want the chocolate to overpower the cheesecake, but I'm really glad I made it. Plus, it makes them look a heck of a lot more impressive.
I originally found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen. And after reading through Deb's description and a lot of the comments I noticed that some people mentioned it didn't have a strong dulce de leche flavor. It was more of a cheesecake flavor with a hint of dulce de leche. I decided to up the amount of dulce de leche I used. I figured I could do that and it would still hold its shape because the squares contain gelatin. You'll probably notice my squares are a little darker than Deb's and that's why. I reflected my change in the recipe below.
Recipe: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Ingredients
3 1/2 oz graham crackers, crumbled (1cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz envelope, will be just about half an envelope)
1/4 cup whole milk
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup dulce de leche
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
Make crust: 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.
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 (I was able to fit mine 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. (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