Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

Dulce de leche cheesecake: A festive twist on a classic dessert, made with gingersnap cookies, dulce de leche and chocolate.

December = snow = vacation = the Holidays = food = best time ever.

My semester ended on a bittersweet note, bitter because many of my friends are leaving for their semester abroad. Bitter because next semester won’t be the same. Because the days get shorter and the nights longer. Sweet because I’m looking forward to five weeks of vacation and another semester. Sweet because it snowed a few times. And I ran outside the door in pyjamas and rain boots at 3 am so that I could have a snowball fight with my friend. Sweet because literally, sweets.

Today’s recipe may not necessarily be associated with Christmas, but it is a special occasion dessert that can be dressed up for Christmas (or any holiday you celebrate around this time of year). A festive combination of dulce de leche (a type of caramel made from milk), ginger cookies (I use speculoos), and chocolate take cheesecake to a new level. Adorned with crushed hazelnuts, cookies and tiny gold Christmas trees, you’re set.

Tips

  • For the base, I love gingersnap cookies; to me they represent this time of year- but obviously any cookie will work, such as plain digestives or Oreos.
  • Chocolate – love it. It goes so well with the dulce de leche. But, you are the master of your own cheesecake and it is up to you!
  • Make sure to bake the cheesecake or the specified time- the centre will still be a little jiggly, but will solidity as the cheesecake cools. This ensures a nice, creamy texture.

 Dulce de Leche

Dulce de leche is a type of milk based caramel. It should not be too hard to find, but may have a different name in your country. In Poland, we refer to it as masa krówkowa or kajmak.  Although it is easier to use a store-bought variety, you can make your own. Submerge a can of condensed milk in a pot of cold water. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for 3-4 hours. 4 hours for a thicker dulce de leche.

To Make Paper Christmas Trees

Fold a piece of gold paper into two. If the paper is one-sided, make sure the white side is facing outwards. Draw small Christmas trees 2-3 inches long, then cut out with scissors. You should end up with one pair of trees for each drawing. Using a glue stick, glue one of the trees (the white side), then place atop a toothpick. The toothpick should be glued in such a way so that 1 inch sticks out. Then glue atop the other tree, gold-side facing outwards. Let the trees dry, then stick them into the cheesecake.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 1-1/2 cups (about 150 g) gingersnap cookies, crushed*
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 750 g (26 oz) cream cheese*
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) brown sugar (regular granulated is fine too!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping cup (250-300 mL) dulce de leche*
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) sour cream
  • 50 g dark chocolate (optional), melted
For the topping (optional):
  • Dulce de leche (about 1/2 cup/125 mL is perfect!)
  • Hazelnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
  • A few of the gingersnap cookies, crushed
  • Golden Christmas trees* (if it's that time of year)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C) and grease a 9 inch (22 cm) springform tin with butter.
  2. If you haven't already created crumbs from the cookies, place them in a ziplock bag and whack away with a rolling pin until you're left with a copper colored rubble. You can also place the cookies in a food processor and pulse.
  3. Stir the melted butter into the cookie crumbs.
  4. Tumble the cookie crumb mixture into the springform pan press down evenly, and create a slight ridge at the sides.
  5. To make the filling, beat together the cream cheese, brown sugar and vanilla. Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature- it makes it much easier to work with!
  6. When the ingredients are just combined, add in the dulce de leche, eggs and sour cream, once again- just till incorporated.
  7. Pour about 2/3-3/4 of the mixture atop the crust and tap the pan slightly to settle the mixture.
  8. To the remaining mixture, stir in the melted dark chocolate until your result is a mousse-like mass.
  9. Dollop the chocolate mixture on top of the dulce de leche mixture and swirl using a knife or toothpick.
  10. Tap the pan to settle the mixture, then bake for 45 minutes.
  11. After 45 minutes are up, turn the oven off and leave the oven door open as the cheesecake cools.
  12. Once the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature, chill it in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight.
  13. If your cheesecake cracks, fear not! Now is the time to cover up any imperfections with the topping. Spread the 1/2 cup of dulce de leche atop the surface of the cheesecake.
  14. Sprinkle atop the crushed gingersnaps and hazelnuts, then top with the Christmas trees.
  • *You can use any sort of cookie you like instead of gingersnaps (Oreos would be great, so would plain digestives).
  • *I used 750 g cream cheese but I know that in the US you can only get 8 oz packs, so 3 of those should be fine.
  • *Dulce de Leche- in the UK, this is known as Carnation Caramel. You can buy it in a can; in Poland it is kajmak or masa krówkowa. To make it at home, submerge a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water and simmer it uncovered for 2-3 hours (3 hours for a thicker dulce de leche). Do not open the can while boiling and let it cool completely before handling.
  • *To make the golden Christmas trees, fold gold paper in half, the gold side inwards. Cut out Christmas tree shapes. You will end up with two for the same size. Apply glue on the paper side of both trees (I just used a glue stick) and place a toothpick about 2/3 of the way up one tree. Place the second tree on top and glue together to create a double-sided gold Christmas tree.
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