Jan 6, 2011

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

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Okay, so I know a whole bunch of us are probably just starting out on some crazy New Year’s diets or are giving up sugar or just generally trying to be “good” lately (what does that even mean, anyway?). Perhaps you even found one of my more virtuous recipes speaking to you earlier this week. But like a smoking hot Ryan Gosling sidling up to a nun at a lonely, desolate airport bar, it’s just so FUN to walk on the edge sometimes, isn’t it?

So I don’t want to hear about what you’re trying to avoid these days, my darlings. Don’t think about what you shouldn’t be eating. Think about the snap of a buttery shortbread crust and a creamy cheesecake layer swirled with milky caramel. Just–shh-shhhh, my love. Don’t speak. Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars. Just let it happen.

This recipe is from the ever-seductive Alice Medrich. Her recipe calls for store-bought or homemade caramel sauce, either of which sounds a-ok to me, particularly when coupled with cheesecake. But I happened to get my hot little hands on a big ol’ jar of artisan dulce de leche, and the whole thing felt so right I just couldn’t say no.

It all started with the world’s simplest shortbread crust, which was an absolutely joy to throw together. Even though the whole thing came together so quickly, I still can’t stop flipping out at the incredible snap this crust had, days after the bars had been baked.

And yes, that’s right, I said days. This is one of those amazing recipes that only get better in the days after you bake it–the cheesecake texture improves, the caramel flavors meld into the creamy layer, the crust becomes even more divine beneath it all. They go down waaaay too easy. Especially considering that this recipe yields enough cheesecake bars to feed an army and one is expected to revamp one’s diet on January 1st. Aw, well. There’s always next year.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies

For the cheesecake layer, I found it needed more sugar to suit my taste than the original recipe called for, so I added another 2 tablespoons and have made the change in this adapted recipe.

I used dulce le leche here, but any good store-bought caramel sauce (or homemade, for that matter) will work just fine.
If at all possible, make these the day before you’re going to serve them–the texture of the cheesecake just keeps getting better and better as it sits in the fridge.

Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on size

For the crust:

14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

For the dulce de leche swirl:

1/2 cup dulce de leche (see note)
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the cheesecake layer:

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1 /2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Being by making the crust: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan completely with foil, folding the excess over the sides.

In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the flour and mix just to combine–the dough will be soft, and might be somewhat oily, that’s okay. Press the dough evenly across the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown, with the edges being slightly darker than the center. Let cool on a wire rack.

While the crust is cooling, prepare the rest of the recipe. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir together the dulce de leche with the salt and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy on medium speed. Beat in the sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl well and give it a final beating until the batter is completely smooth and well-blended. Stir 2 tablespoons of the cheesecake batter into the salted dulce de leche.

Pour the remaining cheesecake batter over the cooled crust. Dollop the dulce de leche mixture over the cheesecake batter, leaving plenty of cheesecake batter in between. Using a butter knife, and being careful not to scrape the crust, swirl the dulce de leche into the cheesecake batter in small loopy circles until the surface is nicely marbled. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the filling is puffed but still jiggles like Jell-O when the pan is nudged.

Set the pan on a cooling rack and let cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours but preferably 24 hours before cutting into squares and serving. Keep any leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

  • No diets over here!! These sound heavenly as I love almost anything with dulce de leche. Would be great for dessert 'finger food' at a party. Thanks for sharing.

  • Diet? What's that? I'm baking for 200 over the next three day, there's no such thing as a diet. Besides I'm a nursing mommy…we need extra cheesecake calories right?

  • I am in love with the look of these cheesecake bars!!! YUM

  • Oh Shauna, I should have known that you would back up my theory that New Year's diet resolutions are utterly ridiculous and unneccessary.

    Who wants to lose weight in January? Everyone knows that we need fat to stay warm!!

    Love this. Love you. That is all.

  • I'm not foolish enough to make a resolution like that!! Bring on the good stuff. 🙂

  • I can't remember the last time i had dolce de leche…or if I've ever had it before, but now I deffinately want it and I want to expirience it through these cheesecake bars. YUM!

  • These may be the most amazing creation ever!!!
    I love both Dulche de Luche and cheesecake. This was a creative way to combine delicious things.



  • You had me at Ryan Gosling 🙂

    These look amazing, Shauna. Happy New Year!!

  • Your cheesecake bars look so good. I guess I am going to have to make my own ducle de leche because I can't buy it here, and there is no way I m going to miss out on making these.

  • Mmmm! These look amazing! Dulce de leche is only one of my very favourite things ever!

  • Yummo….they sound as wonderful as they look… 🙂

  • Good Heavens these are delicious! I've always been timid about making cheesecakes, but these are easy and so yummy! This recipe is a keeper.

  • I made these yesterday for a bake-off type fundraiser today. Mine definitely did not look quite as pretty as I got carried away with trying to even out the swirling so the colors became too blended. BUT, I still won first place!! Thanks for the recipe! I definitely gave credit where it was due, so you might have some more followers. But I'm left asking myself why I gave away my secret and didn't allow everyone to go on thinking I'm a culinary mastermind! Now excuse me while I try to find a vegetable to soothe my stomach after eating all the bars I deemed too poorly sliced to serve…

  • Oh wow! These look teuly gorgeous. I'm always up for anything that uses DDL! 🙂

  • I used this crust recipe instead of a graham cracker crust for some lemon cheesecake bars I wanted to make. It was amazing!!! The various fillings you could pour on top??! Thank you so much for posting it…and for probably adding to my waistline!

  • hello there!
    i recently found a russian type of dulce de leche in a store nearby and immediately thought of making these ddl-cheesecake-bars 🙂
    but i have a question:
    i only have a 8inch square pan – would it be ok if i halved this recipe to fit my smaller pan?

    hope you can help me out here.
    thanks a lot!*

    • I’m a little late to this party, but: YES, a half recipe works great in 8×8″ pan. Just made these (half recipe) a couple days ago. They are beyond delicious.

  • I have never heard of Dulce de Leche cheesecake bars but as soon as I saw the photos I knew I had to make them. They turned out perfect and actually I have made them a couple times for my families and other gatherings. Everyone is always asking me for the recipe!! They are not hard to make especially since they are in bars.

  • […] adapted from http://shaunasever.com/2011/01/dulce-de-leche-cheesecake-bars.html Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted in […]

  • […] used another jar to make these amazing Dulce de Leche cheesecake bars. Seriously, if you are going to make this sauce, do yourself a favor and use one jar for these […]

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