Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares

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It’s no secret that I have a deep, passionate love for cheesecake. It’s by far one of my favorite desserts and I will try any and every variation that I can find. So when Annie asked if I’d be interested in doing a virtual bake-along with her and suggested these cheesecake squares, it took me about 2.2 seconds to eagerly agree. Not only did they involve cheesecake, but also dulce de leche and a chocolate glaze. Bonus! For those that aren’t familiar with dulce de leche, it hails from Argentina and is very similar to caramel, made by slowly heating sweetened milk. Dulce de leche is typically sold by the jar and can sometimes be hard to find in the store. I have seen it in Italian groceries near the Nutella, and in regular grocery stores in the International aisle by the Mexican or Hispanic foods. If you are unable to find it, you can substitute caramel or make your own (I have included the method with the recipe below).

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I significantly altered the original recipe, using it as inspiration to create dulce de leche cheesecake bars. The first thing I did was make the dulce de leche an actual layer instead of being mixed into the cheesecake filling. I wanted it to stand out on its own, so it now sits atop the crust. The second alteration was the cheesecake layer. The original recipe calls for a gelatin mixture to be used so that the cheesecake layer sets up and is easier to pick up and eat with your fingers. Unfortunately, I’m a cheesecake purist. And while I typically claim that there’s always room for Jello, there is no vacancy for it in my cheesecake. Cheesecake is cheesecake and if it becomes a little more difficult to pick up in bar form, well, I’ll just lick my fingers :)

Oh, and I should note that the original recipe calls for cutting these into 64 squares. No way was that happening. I cut them into 36 and even those are way, way too small for my liking. I guess that’s good even if you just want to grab one for a snack or are taking them to a gathering and want them to be able to feed a bunch. If you want to serve these for dessert I would cut them even bigger. But like I said, I’m insane when it comes to cheesecake!

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Want more cheesecake? Who doesn’t?! Check out these recipes:
Coffee-and-Espresso Layered Cheesecake
Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake
Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake
Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte
Chocolate Rum Cheesecake
Oreo Cheesecake

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares

Yield: Makes 36 small squares or 16 dessert-size pieces

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 55 to 65 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
3½ ounces graham crackers, crushed (1 cup of crumbs)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted

For the Filling:
12 ounces dulce de leche or 1 cup (or caramel, if you can't find it and don't want to make it)
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Glaze:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Directions:

To make Dulce de Leche: Pour one 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk into the top of a double boiler pan and 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 and whisk until smooth.

1. To make the Crust. Position an oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 325F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Spray parchment paper with non-stick spray.

2. Finally grind the graham crackers with the sugar in a food processor. With the motor running, add the butter, blending until combined. Press mixture evenly onto bottom of baking pan. Bake 10 minutes, then place on a cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes.

3. Make the Filling. Spread the dulce de leche evenly over the graham crust, then place pan in refrigerator while you prepare the cream cheese layer.

4. Beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed unti light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and continue to beat on medium-high for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract.

5. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the dulce de leche layer evenly, and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours.

6. Glaze the cake. Heat the chocolate, butter and light corn syrup in a double boiler or in a microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Pour the glaze over the cheesecake, tilting the pan to ensure the top is coated evenly. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

7. Lift the cheesecake from the pan using the parchment handles and slice into squares using a sharp knife, wiping it clean after each cut.

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Tyler Florence)

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64 Responses to “Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares”

  1. Maria on August 17, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Love the little bars!

    Reply

  2. BigSis on August 17, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Wowee!! Those look like rich little devils!

    Reply

  3. Laura on August 17, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    I made a dulce de leche cheesecake a while back as part of a Daring Bakers challenge. We were in heaven, it is a stellar flavor combination. These look wonderful and now I am craving cheesecake….

    Reply

  4. Laura on August 17, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Oooops, mine was cafe de leche, I made the cheesecake layer espresso flavored. Whatever, these still look amazing.

    Reply

  5. Krystle on August 17, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Yum I have been wanting to make these for a while, yours look delicious!

    Reply

  6. YourEverydayMama on August 17, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    They look amazing, I can’t wait to try these. I’m currently baking up all my great fruit finds from the farmers market, but as soon as that’s all gone, I’m on this!

    Reply

  7. Megan on August 17, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Looks amazing! Love that you put chocolate glaze on top!

    Reply

  8. Pam on August 17, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    OMG, I always LOVE opening your post!

    Eye candy…YUM!

    Reply

  9. Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen on August 17, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    This looks heavenly ! LOVE dulce de leche ANYTHING.

    Reply

  10. Kati on August 17, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    wowwwy–these look super delish, thanks for sharing. love the cupcake idea in a square shape–super

    Reply

  11. Olive on August 17, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Love this recipe :) I love dulce de leche!! I eat it straight from the can, yummy! I make it by by boiling a can of condensed milk, but of course it’s safer to do it over a double boiler or in the oven.

    Reply

  12. Cookin' Canuck on August 18, 2009 at 9:38 am

    This looks like an amazing recipe! These bars look decadent and just plain naughty.

    Reply

  13. TammyJo Eckhart, PhD on August 18, 2009 at 9:42 am

    These look great. Thank you for sharing.

    http://thechocolatecult.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  14. Dianne on August 18, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Oh…Wow! Those look amazing! Cheesecake should be a food group in and of itself! ;)

    Reply

  15. Alta on August 18, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Oh…my….gosh. These look so good! I love dulce de leche, and love cheesecake, and these would be so perfect. I bet I could substitute some crushed GF crackers for the crust and it’d be perfect!

    Reply

  16. Jessie on August 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    simply amazing! I love dulce de luche, it pretty makes any sweet treat worth having!

    Reply

  17. Danielle on August 18, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Cheesecake and chocolate (err…dulce de leche) does it get any better? DROOL

    Reply

  18. marguerite on August 18, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Yum! Those look awesome!

    Reply

  19. Andrea@WellnessNotes on August 18, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Can I have one with my coffee please? ;) The squares look absolutely amazing…

    Reply

  20. CheapAppetite on August 18, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I didn’t realize that this dish is originally from spain. I thought it was italian. lol.

    Reply

  21. denise on August 19, 2009 at 1:58 am

    Hi! i loved those, but.. just one thing… DULCE DE LECHE is not Spanish… at all. It´s Argentinian. Or if you want, southern-south american (that’s Chile, Uruguay and Argentina). In fact… you can´t find dulce de leche in Spain, unless you go to the international aisle, just like you do =P

    it means “sweet made out of milk” and you can make it by boiling milk with a lot of sugar, on a very slow heat, for hours… and then .. voila! dulce de leche.

    Reply

  22. Janie Yonkers on August 19, 2009 at 5:50 am

    nice photo! as everyone can’t help but say… these look amazin.

    Reply

  23. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) on August 19, 2009 at 8:27 am

    HOLY YUM!!! I love DDL, I love cheesecake!! A dessert I MUST try soon!!

    Reply

  24. Pigpigscorner on August 19, 2009 at 9:31 am

    In love with dulce de leche! sounds really good with cheesecake!

    Reply

  25. Lucy on August 19, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Oh my GOSH these squares look so good! I’m in love with anything that has dulce de leche in (have you tried dulce de leche ice cream? MMM!). These look rich and indulgent…and very very moreish :)

    Reply

  26. Elle on August 19, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Hello, gorgeous! I adore cheesecake–these little squares are calling my name…

    Reply

  27. Michelle on August 19, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Hi Denise! Thanks so much for correcting me on this one. I didn’t realize it was in fact a South American (Argentinian) creation. I have edited the post to reflect the correct history. Thanks again!

    Reply

  28. Annie on August 19, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Yummy! So glad you enjoyed these as much as I did. Thanks for baking with me :)

    Reply

  29. snacksgiving on August 19, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Oh I saw these on the main page of Food buzz..look delicious, decadent and sooo lovely!! I want to pick them off the screen and eat them up!!

    Reply

  30. Marillyn @ just-making-noise on August 19, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Looks so good! Wow!

    Reply

  31. Pam on August 19, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    These look faaaaaaabulous!!!!

    Reply

  32. Ashley on August 19, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Aggh this looks amazing too! Love that layer of dulce de leche.

    Reply

  33. Debi (Table Talk) on August 19, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    This dessert looks decadent and deadly–my thighs feel heavier just reading the post!
    I will have to give this recipe a try….then run 10 miles.

    Reply

  34. Sunshine Mom on August 19, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    WOW!! Your photos and recipes are always sooo amazing! I’ll have to do Jillian Michaels’ shred twice a day so I can make these and eat them all by myself. :)

    Reply

  35. Tracey on August 20, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    I’ve been dying to try making dulce de leche but the only method I’ve seen is the boiling the can method and it terrified me. Thanks for posting this method – I think I can handle this one :) Your bars look awesome!

    Reply

  36. Erika on August 22, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Hi! here from Argentina! These chhesecake squares look so good! Here we have dulce de leche everywhere so we “abuse” of it. I can´t buy too often because when we open is to eat it till the end!! Of course I will try this..Thanks

    Reply

  37. The Purple Foodie on August 22, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Awesomeness! Love Dulce de Leche anything :D

    Reply

  38. Kendra on August 23, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    We’ve boiled condensed milk to make caramel for years and it’s never been a problem or even given us cause for concern. You don’t want to boil the heck out of it- just gently simmer for a couple of hours.

    And then… spread it over the graham cracker crust and make cheesecake!

    Reply

  39. Stacey on August 25, 2009 at 7:55 am

    These look so freaking delicious! I am bookmarking this recipe to try right away. Beautiful photos too. :)

    Reply

  40. leslie on January 12, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Those look unbelievably delicious!!!

    Reply

  41. mie on April 9, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Hi, I’m thinking of making this. Does it matter if I use dark corn syrup instead of light?

    Reply

  42. Michelle on April 12, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Mie,

    I think you could sub dark corn syrup with no problem for the glaze. Enjoy!

    Reply

  43. mie on April 12, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Hi, Michelle, thanks for responding! I actually did make this over the weekend, and although it tastes great, I failed quite spectacularly at the chocolate part. It became an extremely hard layer which made it impossible for me to cut into small (or even straight) squares. Any idea why this happened? Perhaps I chilled it too long? I left it in the fridge for a bit longer than 30 minutes.

    Reply

  44. Michelle on April 15, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Hi Mie,

    Oh no! I’m sorry you had trouble with the topping becoming too hard. If it happens again, I would leave it at room temperature for a little while to soften before cutting.

    Reply

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  55. Ashley on September 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    My dulce de leche came out really thick like candy, and isnt as dark as yours appears to be, what am i doing wrong?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 5th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      Hi Ashley, I have actually never made dulce de leche myself, I’ve always purchased it in a jar.

      Reply

  56. Beth on December 28, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Made these for Christmas, but left out the chocolate top. I have to say, this is one of the BEST desserts I have ever made, and I’ve been baking for many years! Thanks so much for the recipe and my family thanks you too!

    Reply

  57. MaryW on January 23, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I just pulled these out of the oven, and they smell heavenly!

    Reply

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  60. Beth on May 2, 2013 at 10:12 am

    What are your thoughts on making these in muffin cups? You know, so I don’t have to mess with cutting them…

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 2nd, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      I think that could definitely be doable! Just not sure about baking time since I haven’t done them that way.

      Reply

  61. Kathleen on August 12, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Hi
    I hope it’s okay that I linked this post of your blog in my latest post, in which I featured my results from this recipe!!
    Cheers

    Reply

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