Dulce de leche in Spanish or doce de leite in Portuguese (“milk sweet”) is a milk-based caramel that I am in love with! It is made by slowly heating sweetened milk until it resembles caramel.
The flavor is exactly like caramel but with a softer, smoother consistency. It is not as sticky or quite as sweet as sugar based caramel.
I found a lot of different stories on the origin of dulce de leche. All of them had one thing in common. A forgotten pan of ‘la lecheda’ (a drink made with milk and sugar) cooking on the stove. When the ‘forgotten pan’ is finally remembered the milk and sugar has turned into a thick, brown syrup. What a pleasant surprise to find you’ve made something so deliciously edible from overcooking, instead of a burnt up pan!
This was my first time baking with dulce de leche and it won’t be my last! I used a Tyler Florence recipe and added my dulce de leche to create a cheesecake that was nothing short of heaven. It did not disappoint!
Luxuriously creamy, sinfully sweet, with a little bit of tart from the sour cream. The dulce de leche adds a rich caramel flavor that just melted the cheesecake on my tongue.
If you would like to make your own dulce de leche here is a link with the different ways to make it and Alton Brown also has a recipe. Dulce de leche is used to make candy, cakes, cookies, ice cream, cocktails, lattes, and frappuccinos. It is also delicious as a sauce on ice cream, fruit, pancakes, waffles and toast. Yes, toast! One of the most popular ways to eat it.
The best way to eat it is by making my cheesecake and sneaking spoonfuls when no one is looking so they don’t get the same idea…
Dulce de leche Cheesecake
Adapted from Tyler’s Ultimate Cheesecake
2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 30 squares)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
1 cup sugar
¾ cup sour cream
¾ cup dulce de leche (plus 1/4 -1/2 cup for topping)
1 lemon, zested
1 dash vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
For the crust:
In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
For the Filling:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add sour cream, dulce de leche, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not overbeaten(overbeating causes cracks in your cheesecake!) Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. Spread a thin coat of dulce de leche over top of cheesecake. Refrigerate again for a half hour or so. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate. Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water. Wipe dry after each cut.