Dulce de Leche is a sweet confection popular in South American countries. It is made by caramelizing sweetened condensed milk by simmering it for 3-4 hours under very low heat. Dulce de Leche can come as a spreadable sauce or as a hard candy depending on the length of time it was cooked.
Dulce de Leche gives these cheesecake bars that distinct caramel flavor. A sprinkling of fleur de sel (a type of sea salt available at specialty foods stores) cuts the sweetness.
For this cheesecake recipe, we will teach you how to make Dulce de Leche in just 15 minutes using the microwave. Or you can opt to buy a jar readily available at some supermarkets and Latin American food stores. Here is a recipe for Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars.
Homemade Dulce de Leche
2 14-ounce (396 g) can sweetened condensed milk
Graham Cracker Crust
2 1/4 cups finely ground graham crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, melted
Cream Cheese Filling
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Dulce de Leche
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup Dulce de Leche
3 tablespoons (or more) heavy whipping cream
Fleur de sel
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter and cinnamon in medium bowl until moist. Press evenly onto bottom of prepared pan and bake until crust is light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.
Prepare homemade Dulce de Leche by pouring 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk in a big microwavable bowl. Use the biggest bowl available as the milk has the tendency to foam up and spill over while cooking. Cook in microwave for 2 minutes on medium, watching closely so you can turn the microwave off in case of a spill over. Take the bowl out of the microwave (use oven mittens, the bowl could be hot) and stir milk with a wire whisk until smooth. Return to the microwave and heat again for another 2 minutes. At some point the milk will look like it's curdled but will be smooth again after whisking. Repeat the process until you get the right consistency and color. The Dulce de Leche should be light brown and thick but spreadable. It will turn stickier as it cools down. Set aside until needed.
Blend cream cheese and sugar in processor until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, processing 3 to 5 seconds to blend between additions. Add 1/2 cup of Dulce de Leche and vanilla and process for 10 seconds or until blended. Spread batter evenly over cooled crust. Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 38 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.
To make the glaze, loosen the 2/3 cup Dulce de Leche by adding 3 tablespoons cream and heating in a microwave-safe bowl for 10-second. Stir to combine. Add more cream as necessary if consistency is still too thick to pour. Spread glaze over top of cooled cheesecake. Wait for the glaze to set, around 10 minutes, before sprinkling fleur de sel on top. Refrigerate for at least an hour to completely set before cutting into squares.