Dulce de leche, caramel, butterscotch. What is it about cooking sugar + milk or cream that makes it so unbelievably good?!
We could examine the chemical reactions that occur when caramelization happens. But they’re so complex that it would take the fun and magic out of these deeply sweet and complex forms of edible liquid gold.
It seems that salted caramel is everywhere these days, but what about Dulce de Leche?! In my book, it’s just as good as caramel. It perfectly complements the tang and touch of saltiness of these Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars. Plus, when you serve anything with Dulce de Leche to your friends, coworkers, or family, there’s always a touch of exoticness that makes it so easy to delight and impress.
Pick up a jar of Dulce de Leche in the Latin food section of many grocery stores, or at most speciality or gourmet food stores. OR, make your own here
This recipe makes a 9 by 13-inch pan worth of bars, but they’re not super thick. That’s the way I prefer my cheesecake bars so they’re not overly rich and filling. Plus I like a good amount of crust to balance out the smoothness of the cream cheese.
If you decide to whip up a batch of these Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars soon, don’t omit the sprinkling of fleur de sel! It would be criminal. If you can’t get fleur de sel, then try any flaky sea salt you can find.
And if you do make and enjoy this recipe, be sure to snap a picture and share it on Instagram, tagging #handletheheat, so we can all see your creations!
This post was originally published in 2010 and updated with new photos by Constance Higley and more recipe tips.
For the crust:
- 15 whole graham crackers (230 grams)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 24 ounces (680 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- 1/2 cup (150 grams) dulce de leche
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the topping:
- 2/3 cup dulce de leche
- 3 tablespoons (or more) heavy whipping cream
- Fleur de Sel, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 9 by 13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang.
In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse the graham crackers and cinnamon until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse until moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and fragrant. Let cool.
Make the filling:
In the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer, blend the cream cheese and sugar in until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add eggs one at a time, blending after each addition. Add dulce de leche and vanilla and blend until just combined. Spread batter evenly over cooled crust.
Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to rack to let cool completely.
Make the topping:
In a microwave-safe bowl, heat dulce de leche and 3 tablespoons cream in 10-second bursts, stirring between bursts, until melted and smooth. Add more cream by the teaspoon if needed to make pourable. Pour glaze over cooled cheesecake and spread evenly. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours (glaze will not be firm).
The cheesecake can be made and refrigerated 2 days ahead of time. Sprinkle bars with fleur de sel before serving.