Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake


Back in November, I baked a cheesecake for my birthday. I've always been an avid proponent of cheesecake in virtually any form, but this recipe - dulce de leche cheesecake - was new to me. I saw Pati Jinich make it on her Create TV show Pati's Mexican Table, which I've been watching as often as possible for the last year or so. Have you seen it? Pati is from Mexico and she cooks lots of different kinds of traditional Mexican foods as well as modern twists on classic dishes. She is a busy mom of three growing boys; I enjoy seeing the ways she incorporates home-cooking and nutritious choices into their daily lives.

A few weeks before my birthday, I saw an episode of her show where she baked a dulce de leche cheesecake. It looked delicious and I was intrigued: the cheesecake had a cookie crust and a creamy, rich topping made with dulce de leche, a kind of caramel made by cooking sweetened milk for a long time, until it thickens and turns golden brown. Pati made her cheesecake with ingredients imported from Mexico, including Maria biscuits in the crust and Nestle La Lechera canned dulce de leche. As a resident of New Mexico who isn't much experienced with Hispanic cooking, I've always been intrigued by the products we can buy here which are imported from Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Dulce de leche is one of those products; I've seen it on the shelves but had no idea what to do with it. This cheesecake recipe seemed like the perfect chance to give it a try.


Pati has a wonderful website with lots of recipes and tips available, and she also writes cookbooks (you can check out her Amazon page here). I had already asked the Bear for Pati's first cookbook as a birthday present, and I found the cheesecake recipe on Pati's site. I baked the cheesecake on my birthday (I love to bake my own birthday treats, no need to feel sorry for me) and it was even better than I thought it would be. It was amazing. It wasn't the fastest recipe to make, and there were a number of steps, but nothing complicated at all for such an impressive dessert. I mentioned it here on my blog after I'd made it and a few people messaged asking for the recipe. I checked Pati's site to see if she allowed recipe-sharing on blogs, and she did say she preferred for people to ask for permission, so I emailed her.

YOU GUYS - Pati Jinich wrote back to me. She wrote a pleasant, friendly message thanking me for being a fan and gave me permission, with some parameters, for sharing her recipe on my blog. I was so excited! I really didn't know if I'd ever hear from her, but it made me like her even more. What a nice person and a great cook too. Pati fan 4 life! I would have shared the recipe sooner but life took a turn for the seriously lousy around my birthday and my blogging enthusiasm flagged, but I'm feeling much better now and ready to get back to it, so here's that lovely cheesecake. Thanks, Pati, for allowing me to share your delicious recipe.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake
Recipe by Pati Jinich

For the crust: 
1 1/2 cups finely ground Maria cookies vanilla wafers or graham crackers 
6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted, plus more for greasing the pan 
For the cream cheese filling:  
1 pound cream cheese at room temperature 
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk  
3 large eggs at room temperature
For the dulce de leche topping:  
1 1/2 cups sour cream 
1 14-ounce can dulce de leche or cajeta  
1 cup chopped pecans

Butter a 9- to 10-inch springform pan and set aside.  

To make the crust: In a large bowl combine the ground cookies and melted butter until thoroughly mixed. Turn the cookie mixture into the springform pan. With your fingers, pat it evenly around the bottom of the pan, gently pushing it up the sides to make a crust 1/2- to 1-inch tall. Refrigerate while you make the cream cheese filling and dulce de leche topping. 

To make cream cheese filling: Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until smooth and light, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sweetened condensed milk and continue beating until well mixed, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, again scraping down the bowl as needed, and continue beating until the mixture is well blended and smooth, set aside.  

To make the dulce de leche topping: In a medium bowl, mix the sour cream with the dulce de leche until combined. 

Adjust the oven rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350°F.  

Remove the springform pan from the refrigerator. Gently spread the cream cheese filling evenly, trying not to distress the crust. Place the cheesecake in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until it is set and the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before you add the dulce de leche topping. 

Spoon the dulce de leche topping over the cream cheese filling, add the pecans all around the edge and place the pan back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cheesecake cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. It tastes even better if it chills overnight.



The Maria biscuit crust was a first in my baking. I've worked with graham cracker crusts quite a bit, but I'd never made one with Marias, though they are not new to me; we have eaten them occasionally for years. They're a very simple cookie with a slightly lemony flavor and very little sugar, so they're actually quite similar to graham crackers. The small Bears liked them when they were very little and I didn't mind so much if they had a couple, since they're relatively healthy. They're cheap to buy, and you can get individual sleeves of about 40 biscuits, or you can buy them in a box with four sleeves inside. I don't know a lot about Marias, but my understanding is that they are the most commonly eaten biscuit or cookie in the world, having their origins in Europe and then being imported to Latin America. I used my old, battered springform pan, which I will never, ever get rid of.



The canned dulce de leche was interesting. I don't know what I thought it would be like - more liquid, maybe - but it was actually a thick paste, almost like peanut butter. Upon seeing the texture, I thought it would harder to work with, but it mixed very easily with the sour cream for making the topping.


The cheesecake base was very straighforward, a simple combination of cream cheese, eggs and sweetened condensed milk. In keeping with my attempt to use as many authentic Mexican products as possible, I used La Lechera sweetened condensed milk, imported from Mexico. It was exactly the same as my normal American brand, Eagle, but it was actually a little cheaper, so I may just switch. Mexico is only a few hundred miles from here, but imported food always feels exotic and adventurous to me - even when it's milk and sugar in a can.


The only change I made to this recipe was to put pecan halves on the edge of the cake instead of the chopped pecans Pati suggests. This was just a personal preference; I had lots of pecan halves (a Costco-sized bag of them) and they look so pretty this way, I just wanted to leave them whole. They're also easy to arrange very nicely in a circle around the edge of the pan.  



After the cake cooled and I removed the outer ring, I was really impressed with the way my cheesecake looked. The layers were clearly defined, and while I would have liked my cake to turn out a little more neatly on the sides, I was mostly very happy with the presentation. I was particularly impressed with the way the dulce de leche/sour cream topping stayed intact on top. I thought for sure it would be dripping down the sides, but nope, it stayed nice and thick and stable.


My cheesecake was delicious. The crust was crisp and buttery, the filling was sweet and rich, and the topping was creamy and a little tangy, with a surprising slight bitterness. You could really taste the dulce de leche and its complex flavors. We ate very slim slices because it really is a rich combination when you put it all together, but a slim slice was just right. I'm really glad I made this cake for my birthday - it was the perfect combination of flavors for my tastes and it gave me the chance to try some new things, ingredients as well as methods. I'd make it again any time. I hope you'll want to try it too. If you like the look of this recipe, I'd think you'd really enjoy Pati's website, show and cookbooks; please check them out via the links above.  

17 comments:

  1. It looks divine Jennifer! I looked the recipe up on Pati's blog (I think you gave us a link when you wrote about it in November). Richard made the cheesecake for Sam's birthday, it was very good (but didn't look half as pretty as yours! I gave Richard the Patient Jinich cookery book, it has some fun recipes in. Thanks for an excellent suggestions. I don't know much about Mexican cooking and it is good to be able to have some relatively simple recipes to try. Have a lovely week Jennifer, and thanks so much for writing this recipe up for us. xx

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  2. Looks lovely Jennifer and the nuts would be perfect with the filing.. One to try for sure.

    In Northern Ireland, we make Banoffee... A digestive/butter base (graham cracker) a layer of sliced banana covered with the contents of a tin of dulce de leche, tipped with whipped fresh cream flavoured with a little coffee. Chilled, it's delicious. In the past, we had to make our own dulce De leche by simmering unopened tins of sweetened condensed milk for three hours!. Needed to be cool enough to hold unopened tin before piercing it or we were scraping it off the walls!

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  3. I'm a huge fan of cheesecake as well, it looks scrumptious. I like the sound of Etta's banoffee as well. So much deliciousness! CJ xx

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  4. Looks absolutely delicious and a very good birthday choice.

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  5. It's so pretty and looks absolutely yummy! It was very nice of Pat to write back and let you share this recipe!

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  6. Oh my goodness that is absolutely fantastic looking. How nice of Pati to be willing to let you share the recipe with us. You could write a cooking blog with the beautiful pictures that you take! I’m glad things are going better for you. You are missed when you’re not here in blog land.
    Blessings always, Betsy

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  7. how lovely! it's so great when authors actually write back! what a special treat for you in her permission and in the actually cheesecake! I am glad you are still blogging! I know that life can really throw stuff at us and I am grateful for our blogging communities to help cheer us on! God bless and keep you and your family! <3

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  8. It looks amazing. Glad you are feeling better Jennifer and that you are able to blog again, take care.

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  9. This looks divine, the perfect choice for a birthday treat. I'm a big fan of cheesecake too, though I must admit that I usually buy them rather than make them myself, lazy I know.

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  10. It looks amazing, I wouldn't dare make it though because I would end up eating it all myself. :) x

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  11. Your cheesecake looks really good Jennifer. Anything with toffee, caramel and fudge type flavours are to die for, delicious. I may have a try at the recipe, thank you for sharing. Cx

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  12. I am piling on the pounds but just look at it! MMMMMmmmm. I remember you writing about this before and hoping to to try it out soon. Thank for sharing. jo x

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