dulce-de-leche-cheesecake-squares Recipes

dulce de leche cheesecake squares

Dulce de leche, where have you been my whole life? Oh, sure, I knew what you were and I understood implicitly that you were a good thing. I knew that you were practically the national dish of Argentina and I knew I wanted to be the national dish of, well, anywhere, one day but I hadn’t yet taken you into my arms and my belly. I hadn’t yet really tasted you. I am sooo going to have to make up for lost time.

dulce de leche cheesecake squares

The thing is, and I know this sounds a little funny, but I love dairy products–like milk and cream, especially when they’re full fat and super-fresh and hormone free. I love the little smell that wafts off freshly steamed milk. I can absolutely taste the difference between skim and two percent, and simply cannot abide the former and only occasionally the latter. And I would rather have one tablespoon of cream over anything–baked apples, swirled into oatmeal–than 14 of something so-called good for me. And yes, I have digressed, but I just wanted to set this up:

Dulce de leche is the embodiment of everything I love about dairy products and everything everyone loves about caramel together. Like one or the other weren’t good enough, let’s just mash this up and die happy. Minus the dying part.

dulce de leche cheesecake squares

And in the 78 days that I have had this dulce de leche cheesecake bar recipe bookmarked, not a single one has passed that I haven’t considered when I’d find an excuse to make it. I’d angled for a holiday party, but didn’t get my act together in time. Ditto for a New Years party, and a housewarming two weekends ago. Thus I decided it was Superbowl or bust, bought all of the ingredients, made the dulce and everything else and it was … bust.

Yes, these dulce de leche cheesecake bars made it to a Superbowl party without me. I sat on the sofa, eating my lowly square in a most-pitiful a Superbowl Party of One (plus tissues, Day-Quil and a pitcher of water). Except, of course, it was not pitiful at all, as you might call. And these dulce de leche cheesecake squares are exactly as good as you would expect from milk caramel, and cheesecake, and a graham crust, oh, and chocolate.

dulce de leche cheesecake squares

Question: How do you eat your dulce de leche? Do you have a favorite recipe that plays off of it?

To get you started, here are some that make me paw the computer monitor:

sweetened condensedmaking dulce de leche

Cheesecake, previously: Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake, Key Lime Cheesecake, Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake, Nectarine, Mascarpone and Gingersnap Tart (almost no-bake!), Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake, Black-Bottomed Cupcakes (with a cheesecake filling) and Cream Cheese Marbled Brownies.

One year ago: Soft Pretzels

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares
Adapted from Gourmet, December 2003

If you’re looking for a strong dulce de leche flavor in a baked good, this unfortunately isn’t it. Oh, it’s there, but it’s not front and center. It has to share the spotlight with cream cheese, and, well, I’m not sure that it wants to. But, it lingers subtly in the background and, honestly, if there was ever a way to make cheesecake more heavenly, this would have to be it.

I’m sure you’ll notice that there is some gelatin in this recipe, and think it’s odd. Heck, even Alex did, which really just made me beam with pride that he knows so much about baking right now that he knows that gelatin is atypical in (baked) cheesecakes. But, if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. The reason why most cheesecake recipes don’t fare well as squares is that they’re too soft to easily pick up; the gelatin fixes addresses this perfectly.

Makes 64 (1-inch) cheesecake squares

For crust
3 1/2 ounces (100 grams or 1 cup) graham crackers, crumbled
2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, melted

For filling
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce or 7-gram envelope, will be just about half an envelope)
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup dulce de leche (12 1/2-ounce or 355-gram can) (recipe follows)

For glaze
3 ounces (85 grams) fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped
1/2 stick (2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Make crust: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with 2 sheets of foil (crisscrossed), leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.

Finely grind crackers with sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor. With motor running, add butter, blending until combined. Press mixture evenly onto bottom of baking pan. Bake 10 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes.

Make filling: Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small bowl and let stand 2 minutes to soften. Beat together cream cheese, eggs, salt, and gelatin mixture in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes, then stir in dulce de leche gently but thoroughly. Pour filling over crust, smoothing top, then bake in a hot water bath (I was able to fit mine in a 9×13-inch baking pan) in oven until center is just set, about 45 minutes. Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 2 hours. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.

Glaze cake within 2 hours of serving: Heat all glaze ingredients in a double boiler or a small metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth, then pour over cheesecake, tilting baking pan to coat top evenly. Chill, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Lift cheesecake from pan using foil overhang and cut into 1-inch squares with a thin knife, wiping off knife after each cut. (Don’t skip this step! A clean knife is essential for uber-neat squares.)

Note: Cheesecake (without glaze) can be chilled up to 3 days.

Dulce de Leche (Milk Caramel)

I know that most of the world makes this by boiling the milk inside a closed can, but honestly, that scares the bejesus out of me and according to the Carnation can label I pulled this technique from, is not recommended by them (likely because they do not want to get sued, but still). This method works just as well.

Pour one can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk into top of double-boiler pan; cover. Place over boiling water. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 50 minutes, or until thick and light caramel-colored.

Remove from heat. Whisk until smooth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

284 comments on dulce de leche cheesecake squares

  1. Oh. My. Goodness. I’m definitely going to need a reason to make these, so I’d better get to work and start fabricating reasons right now. I love dulce de leche, and one of my favorite uses is in an unbelievably lush toffee-apple bar cookie with, of course, a crumbly base and crumbly topping. I do tend to live dangerously and boil the milk right in the can. You know me, I’m always wondering about recipes — so I wonder what would happen if you mixed in half the dulce de leche with the cheesecake mixture, and then you swirled the other part in, so as to get more of a ddl hit when you bite in…

  2. I have to echo Julie’s post: Oh. My. Goodness. These look so freaking good, I can hardly stand it. I dislike really sweet desserts, but dulce de leche (and flan) are the exception. I have to keep the former out of the house or I will sit down and devour the whole jar with a spoon. E-GADS.

  3. Ohhh, this looks heavenly! I love everything about them, except the length of the recipe and the idea of making my own dulce de leche frightens me! I think I’ll save this recipe until I feel a bit more confident in my cooking / baking abilities. Or at least until I’ve tried to make my own cheesecake first.

  4. One more thing – my family has been making dulce de leche in the can all my life, and I totally agree with you, boiling the can is NOT safe. This is a great alternative method. You can do the same thing by putting a pan of sweetened condensed milk in the oven, using a water bath, and cooking at a low temperature for a couple hours. Same tasty result, and no risk of cleaning exploded caramel off your walls. And floors.

  5. Hmmm… I don’t think I’ve ever had my mouth water from just looking at a computer screen before. These look perfect! And just in time for Valentine’s Day. I can feel my jeans fitting tighter already.

    Hope you’re feeling better. I spent Super Bowl Sunday in bed praying for my Tamiflu to kick in and make its own strategic defensive plays. After 11 days, I (almost) feel like my regular self again, so hang in there!

  6. deb

    Re: the water bath–You plunk the baking dish in a larger one with a couple inches of water in it–but not so much that it will go over the top of the inner baking pan (with the cheesecake)–and bake it like this. The water bath around the cheesecake pan creates a more custardy cheesecake with a top that doesn’t crack. It is used often when baking cheesecakes.

  7. I love the idea of this recipe. I wonder if you could just make a regular round cheesecake. I sort of don’t see why not. The gelatin seems like a great idea to keep the cake firm. I’ve never made a cheesecake but a friend has and it was a little oozy. This sounds like the perfect solution.

  8. valadelphia

    Wowza, can’t wait to make this!
    My fave way to eat dulce de leche is right out of the jar. So question 1: could I use the jarred kind (lazy I know, but it’s good)?
    and 2: I don’t eat gelatin, and I like desserts like this best when they are less firm, so would you recommend adding more cream cheese to make up for gelatin’s absence?

  9. Joy

    You slay me with such good flavors rolled into one! I’ll have to find a good excuse and an occasion to make these because if they’re left with me, it’ll go straight to my mouth.

  10. I rank dulce de leche as one of the tops most decadent treats in the world, right up there with nutella. sinfully delicoius ;) your pictures look so great. fantastic contrast and composition!

  11. This is cruel really. I so can’t make these right now.
    And I so can’t bake with gelatin. :( Boo.
    But these look amazing! SUCH a good idea! Can’t wait to try!

  12. You know, I don’t think I can finish up my day of work after seeing these joyess confections. I think I have to pack up for the day, run home and make these beauties…only I don’t have enough people to share them with! THESE PHOTOS ARE THE BEST SO FAR OF 2008! Did you enter these in that chocolate contest????

  13. deb

    Julie — That sounds like it might work, if I am following, but wouldn’t it get very sweet? Perhaps I misunderstood.

    Grant — I think it would work. Perhaps in a 9-inch tart pan and it would be on the thin side (my preference for cheesecakes, anyhow). Just be sure to triple-wrap the crust in foil if the cake or tart pan bottom if removable before cooking it in the water bath.

    Valadelphia — I don’t think more cream cheese would be a good idea–the cream cheese is what makes it soft and not structured enough in the first place, I think. It would probably work as-is, just a tad soft without the gelatin. Or, you could just serve it with a fork and plate.

  14. The cheesecake looks divine! My favorite vehicle for dulce de leche-( other than out of the jar with a spoon of course) would be Alfajores. I finally got my recipe to taste like the cookies of my childhood. I make them more often than I care to divulge and I am happy to say I think my obsession with dulce de leche will last a lifetime. :)

  15. Wow, nice job! Those look like something you’d buy in a good pastry shop. I love dulce de leche, but cheesecake is not one of my things… I hope there are more recipes with the milky, caramely goodness to come!

  16. Oh my… I can only agree with all the other jubilant posts. These babies look absolutely like something I have to try! Sorry to say it, but your post just beat the c… out of all my other feeds…

  17. deb

    V–It took me a minute to figure out what you meant, but no! I just find those mini-cupcake liners, flattened, make it much easier to travel with stickier desserts. It would be hard for people to pick them up otherwise without making a mess. But I do wish I’d thought of that. Perhaps when I come up with my all-natural milano recipe…

  18. Di

    Good. God.
    That is one fine-looking dessert.
    In fact, on the day that I have finally weaned my cow’s-milk-protein-sensitive, won’t take a bottle ever baby, these might be on the menu. It’s a big menu, I haven’t had so much as a glass of ordinary milk since June.

  19. Mo

    Okay, WOW. This looks so good, and I’m in love with dulce de leche (I’ve had it exactly twice in my life, both times in Argentina, but my love holds true…).

    But seconding alex’s request for a gelatin substitute…!

  20. V


    Actually, its the “oh, and chocolate”. It’s a bit of silly copy off of the side of the packaging. Something about the “art of the cookie” or some nonsense. It always makes me laugh.

  21. Hoo-ly those look amazing! My favorite use in the world for dulce de leche is banoffee pie, something my friend and her British husband brought in to my life. Bananas, dulche de leche, and whipped cream, yes please. ps, I’m terrified of the boiling in the can method too. I put it in a pie plate in a water bath and bake it for a couple of hours to make mine. Your double boiler method sounds easier.

  22. helllo nurse! (animaniacs fan)

    i’d like to know if there is a substitute for the gelatine?
    oh yes, what is liquid corn flour?
    p.s. this looks devine…i found your site whilst searching for ‘amazing tomato soup’ recipes :)
    im trying it out tomorrow!! wish me luck.

    One more thing..about the Dulce de Leche (Milk Caramel), if im lazy to do the whole boiling of the condense milk…can i use canned caramel..in south africa we have ‘caramel treat’ (i think thts the outcome of boiling the condense milk)

  23. Anne

    1) dulce de leche is best straight out of the jar, preferably eaten with fingers, and not a spoon

    2) boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk is a good way to get a new kitchen from your insurance company (after the ensuing explosion of course)

  24. Janna

    One of my very best friends spent a semester of college in Uruguay and said they made cause to eat dulche de leche anytime and practically on anything…well, dulche de leche and, ahem, mayonaisse (they sell them in handled plastic bags, of which you cut the corner off so you can pour mayo on everything….I digress)
    She came back from her worldly experience with a box full of dulche de leche pastries and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
    Her baby shower is coming up and I think this is the perfect celebration food for her. Thanks for posting the recipe!

  25. Sarah

    Another vehicle for dulce de leche is just plain ol’ cake. I had it the first time in Costa Rica and it seemed like a white cake with dulce de leche poured over it and allowed to soak in. The cake was so saturated you had to eat it with a spoon :)

  26. N

    I lived in Brazil for a while and we always made dulce de leche /doce de leite by putting cans of condensed milk in a big pot of water and then boiling for an hour or so. My friends swore it was safe if you started with cold water and let them heat up together, and made sure the water always covered the cans. I must confess I’ve done this about a dozen times back home here in the States, with no problems. However, I own a house now and really like my kitchen, so will probably re-think this!

    Anyway, the best way to eat the stuff is by the spoon! But that cheesecake looks like it’s worth trying!

    Has anyone tried using agar-agar as a gelatin substitute? It’s what an old vegan friend used.

  27. squashi

    On the heels of Sarah’s comment– here’s the dulce de leche cake that (according to my sources) is the most divine cake experience one could ever hope to achieve.
    (or, for safety’s sake: http://tinyurl.com/2akfuu)

    You’ll note that it includes SIX different kinds of dairy: butter, whole milk, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and dulce de leche. And while home-made DDL is surely the best, it is actually available in jars in many Hispanic grocery stores in NYC.

  28. I made something like the Milk Caramel with a recipe from Southern Living Crock Pot Cook Book (that’s not the *official* name, but a description). You put the sweetened condensed milk in a glass measuring cup, cover with foil, put it in a crock pot and add water around the cup and cook all day in the crock pot. Theirs is for a “caramel pie” which was amazing. Just wanted you to know this is a good use for your crock pot and then you don’t have to mind it so much. If anyone cares, I’ll pull out the actual recipe and share the deets.

  29. Joy

    Brilliant! Delicious!! I’m so glad I just joined the gym!!! The flavor combination sounds gorgeous. So decadent. I’ve always had some sort bias against spring form pans, so I never make cheesecake. I love to see you use a lined square baking pan! That idea alone will change my cheesecake baking experience. Thanks!

  30. Ohhhhh, I’m so lusting over this.
    My favorite food find from my last trip to Mexico was cajeta, which I believe is a dulce de leche made from goat’s milk. It comes in a jar, and it’s pure heaven.

  31. I absolutely love dairy as well, but it’s a bit love-hate since dairy hates being in my tummy. I’ve never tried dulche de leche since I’ve always been a bit wary, but I just know I will love it. Darn you, dairy!

  32. Now this is just mean. Empanadas & now cheese cake squares are owed to yours truly. :-)
    When is the next event? I can’t even think. Oh yeah, we’re going to see the Beastie Boys. Maybe we can get backstage if you bake them something AMAZING. Yeah, I think so.


  33. Y

    okay they showed a recipe on today this morning for creme brulee french toast. the key is that you melt butter, brown sugar and corn syurp together and put in the bottom of the baking dish, a layer of bread then you pour on the milk and egg mixture let sit and bake. DDL would be perfect for this..maybe sub rum for the grand marnier?


  34. Dulce de leche is just as dangerous as nutella, I eat both with a spoon, straight from the jar. Recently I read about Peanut Butter Dulce de Leche and it was all I could do not to get out a spoon and start dipping.

  35. Cristina

    My favorite way to eat dulce de leche?
    1) Have authentic jar of the stuff shipped up by my father from South America.
    2) Upon its arrival, sit on couch with said jar.
    3) Pop open top
    4) Insert large spoon.
    5) Savor.
    6) Repeat steps 4 & 5. Many, many times.

    They have a wonderful dessert in Uruguay made with dulce de leche called “alfajores.” Dulce de leche middle, cookie on top and bottom. Some are dusted with powdered sugar, others are dunked in chocolate. Deadly.

  36. I haven’t baked anything with dulce de leche yet… maybe I will start with these! Usually I just drizzle it on top of dessert (especially apple or pear crumbles) or eat it right from the jar!

  37. Ohhhhh…if you like dairy, surely you’ve had a tres leches cake? We had one made for us in Costa Rica last year and I’ve been dreaming about it regularly ever since. I mean seriously: “cake of three milks”? Regular, evaporated, and condensed. Nothing in the world wrong with that.

  38. Shirlie

    Great post, Deb! Outstanding photographs, as well. Is there a difference in taste between the ready made ddl in a jar vs. making it from the can of sweetened condensed milk? Both are readily available to me; I just want to make the best tasting choice. Also, the original recipe calls for wheatmeal crackers; are these not as sweet? May I ask why you used graham crackers? Thank you so much for this recipe. You have a way of making complicated recipes look effortless.

  39. deb

    I made ddl from sweetened condensed milk because I figured if I just bought dulce de leche (which I also imagined costing much more, given the chi-chi stores in my neighborhood) everyone would ask me why I hadn’t just boiled my own, thus I figured I’d get that recipe out of the way, too, while I was out it. ;)

    I skipped the wheatmeal because I still had 2/3 of a box of graham crackers left from the key lime cheesecake a few weeks ago, and then switched the recipe because I figured everyone would ask me why it called for wheatmeal, what they taste like, etc. and I honestly had no idea.

    Don’t I think of everything?

    Maggie–Yes! I have had it and love it. Can you tell me how it differs, however, from the Saveur recipe linked in comment #44? (Which I immediately bookmarked, thank you!) I am not versed enough (yet) in tre leches to know the difference–are there just more varieties of milk in the Saveur one? Just curious. Thanks!

  40. I do the closed can thing ALL THE TIME, and I love it, and it never occurred to me that it would be bad, so ah, oops. I mean, DUH, really, it makes sense, but I love the simplicity of just throwing a can on the stove and forgetting about it for a while. And now, of course, I’m afraid that I’ve almost killed myself and/or blown up my kitchen. Who knew?

  41. I hope alfajores are on your list next!

    Also, I’m Argentine, and while I have done it the swtnd condensed milk route for convenience, the real good stuff is made from proper fresh milk, not the canned goo. I’ve got my eye on this recipe when I get a chance.

    Oh and tres leches is a cake made with/soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream. No dulce de leche involved.

  42. I made dulce de leche sauce (from Epicurious, linked with the Mascarpone Cheesecake recipe) and used it as a dipping sauce for Fondue Book Party last night. It just called for 1 c. brown sugar, 1 c. cream (boiled until reduced) then stirred in 1/2 cup sweetened condensed. Brought the house down with fruit and pound cake dippers. I’ve tried cajeta in a jar, too, from mexican groceries. Delicious.

    I would say, after an entire summer of making cheesecakes for a restaurant, leave the gelatin out and just cook the cheesecake layer longer (you probably won’t have to prebake the crust as long). The best cheesecake I’ve ever made in my life: overbaked by almost 30 minutes. Sure, it cracked, but you’re pouring chocolate over those babies anyway! Firm, velvety texture, almost foolproof really. I know this doesn’t completely answer the question of the vegans who want a gelatin substitute for all applications, but I vote to just leave it out of here.

  43. Deb — to be more explicit, my idea was to use exactly the same amount of ddl as called for in your recipe — one cup. It shouldn’t be any sweeter, since there’s no increase in the amount of sweetening agent/ddl. Instead of mixing it all through, I thought to mix only half a cup of it with the cream cheese. Then marble the other half-cup through, and bake as directed. You won’t see the pretty marbling once the lush chocolate glaze is put on, but I’m just wondering if you’d get greater contrast and more of a caramel hit.

    It’s incredibly difficult for me to make anything without monkeying with it. I should really give things a try as they’re written, first.

  44. deb

    Delaney–Thank you, that’s some good advice. I definitely think that the gelatin can be skipped for those who don’t wish to use it. It will be softer but it will have no effect on the final taste. However, I suspect the no gelatin thing is because people are Kosher? I can’t imagine (given the, uh, cheese and milk) that it’s a vegan thing, right?

    Julie–Ah, that idea is brilliant. I like! I think monkeying around is a great thing.

  45. Sharyn

    Thanks for the lovely recipe. Just wanted to comment on the the can thing. I have boiled a can successfully one time. The second time wasn’t so successful. I forgot about it.. and well, the water ran out.. when i finally remembered and went in to check.. as i got to the door it popped (exploded maybe is a better word) and we were cleaning caramel off the roof that night… luckily we had friends over that night to help! Just in case you wanted to know what can happen…

  46. Sharyn

    ooops… i meant cleaning caramel off the ceiling! and the walls and everywhere else in the kitchen. it didn’t make it onto the roof luckily!

  47. We live in the Philippines and we always have dulce de leche around these parts, and I’m going to get carried away with this comment right about now. We also have brazo de mercedes (not too sure about the spelling). Jeff is experimenting with salpicao and crispy pata right now. There’s also sisig (although it’s best you don’t find out what’s in that one because it’s insanely delicious and a definite must-try-before-you-die dish, and knowing might make you not want to try it). If you guys ever want to travel, you should definitely come here. It’s great for food tripping. – Lisa

  48. Some recipes you can just tell from the photo are going to cause you problems. The sort of greedy, open mouth-insert entire pan of deliciousness type problems.
    Brilynn above says that dulce de leche is as dangerous as Nutella??? Then I have never feared a recipe as much as this…..I want to make it….but perhaps I can cut the recipe down to 1/354 th, that way when I go insane and eat the whole batch I’m really only 1/354th bad.
    p.s. beeeeautiful photos! Thanks for sharing!

  49. those squares look fantastic! and the glaze is super shiny. i’m glad you made your own dulce de leche…it’s so simple and oh so delicious. it’s been awhile since i’ve made anything with ddl, most likely bc, as with nutella and peanut butter, i am an addicit and can’t stop with one bite! thanks for the recipe – i think i’m going to have to cave and try it! oh and how was the gelatin in the cheesecake??

  50. patty

    This article made my day. Seriously. Just looking at those pictures makes me want to run to the grocery for ingredients. Have you tried Haagen Dazs’ Dulce de Leche ice cream? Delicious!

  51. rachel W.

    You did not mention the best reason to make the dulce by opening the can (I”ve done the closed can thing, and for the no effortness of it, I do not believe I have ever had a better return on time- we ate the first one right out of the can with spoons and I had to make another for the cake filling) Anyway- YOU DROP A VANILLA BEAN IN WITH THE MILK. Oh. My. Word.

  52. Cheers from the country of the Dulce de Leche (Argentina).
    This recipe looks impressive. I’ll prepare it soon.

    I love cheesecake, and dulce de leche cheesecake should be delicious.

  53. Dancer who eats

    Mmmm..I have had this my whole life and never realized that most American’s might not know about it. Growing up in CA doesn’t hurt with the large Latin influence. In Peru they put Dulce de leche in the middle of Churros. YUM!!! If you don’t know what a churro is you are also missing out!

    Mmm… Tres leches. It’s what my lactose intolerant Dad always wants for his birthday cake…..

  54. Celeste

    Deb, I think the desire for no gelatin is a vegetarian thing. They might eat dairy products but not gelatin, which is extracted from animal tissue. A vegan would eat no animal product or dairy product.

    I never thought about the kosher angle, though.

    As an aside I use gelatin in meatloaf thanks to Cooks Illustrated and think it’s awesome. I love meatloaf in winter!

  55. Cathy

    Dumb question…but for the dulce de leche you just boil sweetened condensed milk? And it comes out with a caramel flavor? Nothing else is added?

  56. Sil- BsAs

    How have I eaten dulce de leche over these past 32 years?
    from the jar!
    over toasts, mixed with cream cheese, in alfajores, in mousse,cakes …
    Classic cake in Argentina:
    -base of brownie
    -thick layer of dulce de leche
    -italian meringue peaks
    Lovely photos, congrats from the south!

  57. jamie


    I’m gonna pretend I didn’t just read this recipe- oh, who the heck I’m I foolin’? I’m gonna make these today!!!!!

  58. Deb, Deb, Deb… I love that you have discovered Dulce De Leche, but I really can’t help pointing out that you’re still missing on this amazing South American treat. You MUST try making your dulce de leche from SCRATCH. No,sadly, boiling some condensed milk isn’t from scratch. I’ve done that too, and it’s not nearly as good as getting fresh whole cow’s milk and putting it together yourself with the vanilla pods and sugar. Please try it, if only for my sake! Here’s the link to the recipe: http://straightfromthefarm.wordpress.com/2007/12/19/dulce-de-leche/

    I bet with the real from-scratch version, the dulce de leche will *not* play second fiddle to the cream cheese. No, no, no. It’ll sing its heart out! I plan to use some of mine this weekend for just such purposes…thanks for the recipe! :)

  59. deb

    Hi Kelly–I use a heat-proof bowl over a simmering pot of water. Just make sure that it doesn’t touch the simmering water and, oh, use a potholder while you are stirring! Learned that one way too many times.

  60. geez, lady! I am DIETING for goodness sakes! I already side-stepped for a very necessary drunkenness and I hardly need cheesecake giving me the stink-eye.

    Marvelous photos, by the way. Your blog is always vastly entertaining to read, be it painful or not to crave things I’ve never tasted.


  61. Neesha

    i’ve always wondered what dulce de leche is… and thanks for explaining it. it *sounds* like yema, which is something that i make just by heating up the condensed milk in a sauce pan and stirring it so it won’t stick. that’s how i make it, other people would probably add more ingredients but i found condensed milk that is cooked slowly and for a long time tastes super duper good. and yeah i eat it with a spoon and i don’t share. =D

  62. charlotte s

    these look incredible!!!!!! i love dulce de leche and have made a cheesecake from epicurious with dulce de leche that is just to die for…

  63. Deb – I *think* the only differences between that one and ours was that ours had a whipped cream-y type icing (it was made as a birthday cake) and that one is topped with dulce de leche, and also that one has rum and ours didn’t. So, basically, that recipe adds caramel and booze, which can ONLY be an improvement. I just love that cake. It’s just swimming in milk.

    My parents are going back to CR this month. I’m going to get that recipe from the cook if it’s the last thing I do, and will be sure to share!!

  64. Weeziefitz

    DDL is truly the food of the gods. I have never made it – too much of a chicken re exploding cans of sweetened condensed milk, but I have found a fabulous substitute. I am a from-scratch-only cook, but Williams-Sonoma’s Dulce de Leche is sooooooo goooooooood. Your recipe sounds delish!

  65. Amy

    Deb, I have been a fan of your blog for a while now but this is my first post — these cheesecake squares look SO GOOD!! I’ve been thinking about them ever since I saw your post yesterday! I was really interested to see that you can make your own dulce de leche, which is something I’m looking forward to trying. The pictures of the squares are so enticing!

  66. Julie

    Deb I know you are a fan of CI, but I have never seen you mention their sister publication, Cook’s Country. It took me a while to warm up to it but it has grown on me – once I realized they steered away from the usual “country” magazines that are chock full of Cool Whip and Condensed soups. Anyway, a while back they published a recipe for Tres Leches cake, with a rather ingenious (and time saving) method for making ddl – pouring the sw. cond. milk into a glass bowl, and microwave on low 7-10 minutes, until straw colored. I was skeptical, but it worked like a charm, and saved a ton of time. BTW their tres leches cake was also fabulous (minus the frosting, which was overkill) and your ddl bars look even better. They will be made in my house this weekend!!

  67. Celeste

    Funny threadjack–in the Jill Conner Brown “Sweet Potato Queens” books, she has recipes for crazy Southern treats. One of them is called Danger Pudding. It’s when you boil a can of sweetened condensed milk and essentially cook DDL. They say to do this at your own risk because it’s not called Danger Pudding for nothing. ;o)

  68. Pam

    These look heavenly. Can’t wait to try them. Several years ago I had something very similar that had a layer of bananas on the bottom. I don’t usually like bananas in food but it was scrumptous. Has anyone out there ever tried to cook the milk in the can? Some brave soul …? Thanks for another tempting treat!

  69. RSD

    These look great! Congrats on the Real Simple mention :) Question, what is your favorite dessert to make for your love on Valentine’s Day?

  70. Sol

    Being from Argentina, I have a few suggestions for all of you, dulce de leche lovers:

    -Travel to Buenos Aires, go to Cumana (downtown BA), and order an empanada con dulce de leche. It’s worth the trip!!! I assure you!

    -While you are there, get a few cans of Chimbote, the best dulce de leche ever! You may even be able to get it here in the US now.

    I’m definitely trying out the cheesecake recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  71. These are amazing-looking! Beautiful photos, and the recipe sounds delish! I have to agree with the comment that DDL tastes better made with milk and sugar and not the canned stuff-though I wouldn’t refuse it in any form. ;)

  72. Oh. my. god. Those are beyond the pale.

    I also love dairy – real, fresh, organic dairy – and have been known to drink huge gulps of milk directly from the container. My favorite warm winter beverage is a vanilla steamer (or an amaretto steamer, for a little extra kick).

    I like to eat dulce de leche however I can: with a spoon straight from the container, on ice cream, spread on brownies, with fruit (esp. bananas, like Pam said). And just this morning I saw a post for dulce de leche macarons that sounded amazing.

    Us vs. Food

  73. “Mash them together and die happy. Minus the dying part.” :)

    I’m droooooooling right now. As if all your recipes and photos didn’t make me salivate, this one has taken the cake, er cheesecake!

  74. well, all you needed to do was ask me!!! I´m Argentine, so I know 100 different ways to use dulce de leche. I made alfajores de maizena for the blog a while ago http://pipinthecity.wordpress.com/2007/02/25/argentina-101-part-iii-dulce-de-leche-basics-alfajores-de-maizena/
    Basically they are two cookies with a good amount of cornstarch (maizena) and lemon zest with a generous dollop of dulce de leche sandwiched in the middle.
    Other matches made in heaven are: dulce de leche and walnuts/banana/coconut/chocolate/peanuts
    A good idea I´ve put into practice in terms of dulce de leche and cheesecake is to have a generous layer of dulce de leche over the crust and then cover that with cheesecake batter with coconut http://pipinthecity.wordpress.com/2007/03/15/the-seemingly-endless-dulce-de-leche-saga-continues-this-time-it%c2%b4s-cheesecake/
    (Sorry about all the self-linking, I can´t seem to remember the exact code for links)

  75. i am going to hold you personally responsible when i am so fat i am being lifted out of the roof of my house on a crane. seriously good looking slice. photos are great too

  76. Auzziewog

    I have been making this for the last 40 years and boiling the sweetened condensed milk for wait for this 3 HOURS but then we did not know it was called Dulce de Leche just caramel so your 50 minutes ought not be a problem – I never had a can go kaboom as yet – it ‘ll be a sticky end I am sure – enjoy your recipes and ramblings

  77. Jan

    Hey, are they trying to tell us something? Did you notice that today (Sunday) the Google Ads are all for diet stuff and strategically placed next to the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares blog entry?
    Great recipe. The folks over at KAF’s Baking Circle are all drooling over your Nutmeg Maple Pie too.

  78. These look absolutely delicious.And very interesting comments section as well. Patiently read what all the people had to say. Will surely try it the next time I have a party

  79. gin

    wow! i just got back from buenos aires with a few jars of dulce de leche and a terrible addiction to it… especially alfajores. i think these are definitely going to put my new dulce de leche to good use. thank you!

  80. Josie

    I made these over the weekend and oh my gosh were they good. Fairly easy to make as well. A+++.

    Oh and on a side note, I was reading my March issue of Real Simple, and smittenkitchen.com is listed as one of the favorite kitchen/cooking blogs!

  81. Deb :)
    I saw this post last week and when I decided to restart the birthday cake tradition at my new work, I knew this would be perfect. Sent Mum off to the shops, can’t do that at the moment darn ankle. No DDL and wasn’t about to make it either, so I took the chocolate topping idea and married it to my normal baked cheesecake recipe instead of a sour cream topping and it went down like you wouldn’t believe!!!

    Very much making the DDL ones next time as drool…


  82. Well, after making the Snickery Squares last weekend, I was reminded that I in fact, do not like dulce de leche at all. My coworkers on the other hand, apparently love it.

  83. Melissa

    Hi Deb,

    I added a swirl of dulce de leche to the CI brownies…and I’m speechless. That brownie recipe truly is the bomb. Worked with whole wheat pastry flour (necessity, not virtue) and the caramel swirl was out of this world.

    thanks for the amazing site!

  84. I love zingerman’s magic brownies( The buenos aries version). You swirl big globs of dulce in the most amazing brownies I’ve ever had. There is a pic and recipe on my site.

  85. Bailey

    Oh wow… I must try these, once Lent is over. There have been a couple of mentions of agar as a vegetarian alternative– is that valid? if so, how much? what about pectin or the like? Thanks~!

  86. shannon

    This recipe sounds great. I have made my own banoffee pie for years with condensed milk but I am always amused when people say to me about boiling the milk in the can… my recipe from the side of the can says to put the milk in a pan and bring to the boil stirring the whole time, for exactly five minutes then use. This method has been foolproof for me every time… and if I had to boil the milk for nearly an hour I would never use the recipe. I cannot remember if I got the recipe from Eagle Brand Condensed Milk or from Nestle brand but I am sure it will be on one of the websites. This milk also makes a very nice coffee sorbet, recipe also on can.

  87. noisha

    Agar is fantastic but it does work differently to Gelatin. You need to use approx the same amount but you will need to boil it in some water to get working. Agar sets a little differently and stays set at higher temps than Gelatin.

    To use agar, put required amount in cold water, then add to the cooking if it is being cooked for a bit first. If you use the agar bar (available in the states last time I was there) it is equal to four tablespoons of flakes or two teaspoons of powder, and one bar or its equivalent will gel two cups of liquid. Unlike gelatin, all forms of agar need to simmer for a while to dissolve, and letting it soak in the liquid / water for an hour or two gives you a head start. (a ‘while’ is defined on when it is dissolved – you will see when it is)

    Hope this helps. I have been cooking vegan and vegetarian food for some 30 years and use this quite a bit for all manner of desserts.

    love the site :)

  88. You can buy the ready made dulce de leche at lots of places now. I’ve never been brave enough to boil tins but know people who have!
    I’m a big fan of desserts so I’ll be adding this to my list of ones I’m going to make!

  89. Wow! I never knew the goodness of dulce de leche until these! There were absoluty devine. I cooked my condensed milk for almost 90 minutes to get a really deep caramel color. This is one of my top 5 favorite desserts.

  90. my dad’s from argentina so i got introduced to the wonders of dulce de leche very young. i remember we had set some condensed milk to cook but completely forgot and stepped out. when we got back, my mom had all ready gotten back and was not pleased. there had been a caramel explosion and she had clean up duty.
    random tidbit. anywho, if you want to have a savory treat, you can spread some dulce de leche on a piece of mozzarella. soo goood.

  91. Liliana

    Okay, I am glad you guys finally discovered dulce the leche. I have been eating it for the last 50 years. Boling condensed milk is an okay substitute for the real thing but I suggest you try to find in a Latin market near you ” La Lechera” Dulce de Leche (by Nestle) Product of Chile– any questions Call 1-800-258-6727, the can says.
    Many markets in the Chicago area carry it (right next to Nestle evaporated and condensed milk) To die for, take it from an Argentine!

  92. Lydia

    I found these from notmartha.org and I had to try them. Not having a double boiler I baked the condensed milk in a water bath per David Lebovitz’s website. I didn’t do the chocolate glaze but the squares were so delicious anyway. I got 25 squares from a 8×8 pan. My husband was concerned that I was using a recipie from a blog, but now he’s converted. Thanks for this delicioud recipie!

  93. Eryn Ashley

    These look AMAZING and I am making them for a dinner party I’m hosting on Friday. Just a quick question … what happens if you glaze more than 2 hours before serving? Does it change the taste? Presentation? Heaven forbid, both??

    Just curious :)

  94. Tammy

    Delicious, delicious, delicious! As if that word hasn’t been said enough, but seriously… YUM! These are just what I needed to satisfy my sweet cravings as of late. =D

  95. oh my gosh. i just made these. sooo good! my mom actually said “now i understand the phrase ‘a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,’ i think i would stick around for these too.” the only think i would change next time is a thinner layer of chocolate because i think it was just a little too overpowering, but that is something of personal preference. SOO GOOD!!!! definitely the dessert that everyone wants you to bring to functions :) Plus it was pretty easy. I had to cream the cream cheese one egg at a time and then the milk because the first time i did it all together and i couldnt get all the cream cheese to incorporate.

  96. Adrian

    Why is it unsafe to boil a closed can? The reason is that when the contents boil, the pressure of boiling causes the can to explode. If you boiled a can of evaporated milk (no sugar) it would blow up in short order.

    What is the boiling point of sweetened condensed milk? Anybody who has made candy should realize that it’s well above 212 because of all the sugar. So a closed can of condensed milk will explode only if you heat it up beyond the boiling point of water. You can cook such a can all day and all night in boiling water and it won’t explode because the can can’t get hotter than the boiling water. But as people have mentioned, if you let the water boil away, you’re in trouble!

    So if you are confident that you can keep on top of your water (or set timers to check regularly) this can be a perfectly safe procedure. But if you’re the forgetful type, best play it safe and follow the safety warning on the can.

    I personally have had more trouble with milk candy made OUTSIDE the can: I got a nasty burn on my hand trying to make an Indian version of dulce de leche in a pan on the stove.

    I have used the pressure cooker to make dulce de leche in the can: place the unopened can in the pressure cooker covered with water. Bring up to full pressure and cook 15 minutes. Then do a natural pressure release. With this procedure, you don’t have to worry that you’ll forget about it since it’s much faster and the water can’t boil away. (I think 15 minutes is equivalent to something like a 2 hour cooking time.)

  97. Aldehyde

    This looks absolutely delicious. I made some dulce de leche with the boiling can method yesterday and I’m going to use a birthday party as my excuse to make these.

    FYI, as long as the can is completely submerged in water its safe–if the top of the can is exposed the pressure difference CAN lead to an explosion. I just let the can lay on its side in the bottom of a full stock pot of salted water and then added warm water to keep it full as it boiled. Once its done let the water cool down by itself (or if you’re impatient like me pour out half and add cool water, let it sit, repeat etc over a few minutes.)

    Don’t be afraid, it works really well. I’m going to try sweetening some coconut milk and cooking it outside of the can because I really want to know what coconut dulce de leche would be like.

  98. Lyra

    I made this to break my Lenten fast (I gave up baking), and boy was it worth it! The richer note of sweetness from the DDL, the addictive gooeyness, and that perfect note of chocolate right on top. YUM!

    I think next time I’m going to only whisk in half the DDL to sweeten and swirl the other half in for a stronger contrast. Thanks, Deb!

  99. jen

    what about trying it with a crisp, light cookie for dipping? when i lived in colombia we ate something called arequipe, which i think is just a little thicker, from tiny cups with tiny spoons. but you could also eat it on obleas. sort of the sweet version of blinis and caviar.

  100. Raven

    That is one of the most appetizing looking dessert. Yummmmy. Alas, I don’t have the skill nor the knowledge to reproduce something as elegant looking as that. But keep posting new pix.. i like pix of food. Thanks!!!!

  101. Hi there
    Oh, what wonderful things you say about my beloved dulce de leche… I agree with you 100%. Being from Argentina I was lucky enough to grow up with that nectar from the gods (and taking it for granted). But I BEG you, if you’re going to do it from scratch, please PLEASE do it properly with full-fat milk and sugar, it is infinitely better than the condensed-milk version. By the way, I recently published the recipe in my blog, should you like to have a peek. Good luck and let me know how it turned out!

  102. NikkiDoc

    I love my Dulce de Leche warm on top of vanilla ice cream with walnuts in syrup and of course, whipped cream and a cherry. I love vanilla and caramel together. This recipe looks sooo goood! I will be trying it very soon.

  103. Debby

    I just made these the other night for a concert reception and they were amazing! I had forgotten to buy whole milk and just used some 2% I found in the church refrigerator, and the pan was a bit bigger than an 8×8…maybe a 9×9, I haven’t measured yet. But despite that, they were fabulous. The dulce de leche method I use is the one I found in a Southern Living recipe: Empty a can of sweetened condensed milk into an 8×8 pan, cover with foil, place into a larger pan and fill the larger pan with water until it comes halfway up the sides of the smaller pan. Bake in a 350′ oven for an hour or two, stirring every 30 minutes (I forgot to stir, and it was fine) until thickened and golden. Mine took about 1-1/2 hours. It thickens even more when chilled.

  104. Steph

    You wrote that the cheesecake should be glazed 2 hours before serving. Why is that? And how long can the cheesecake w/ the glaze last?

  105. deb

    I believe that the two-hour suggestion is only because it takes some time for the chocolate to set until it is firm. More than two hours should be just fine.

  106. Karen

    I just finished making this cheesecake and I must say that I’m not certain whether or not any of it will make it to the people I intended it for! Just kidding, although I’m pretty sure if cheesecake wasn’t so rich, it would be a distinct possibility. I was wondering if there was supposed to be more of a distinct dulce de leche taste to the cheese cake. Perhaps I jumped the gun and didn’t cook the dulce de leche long enough. Any ideas?…. Thanks so much!!!

  107. Muneeba

    Deb, this is the first time I’m commenting on your website, although have been religiously scouring it for the past month or so. Awesome blog & wonderful pics. This dessert was my first attempt at one of your recipes – and SUCCESS! *the crowd roars* Ok, so I didn’t have the chocolate glaze (personal preference – I’m a pure dulce de leche fan). Hubby & I devoured the results. Have made this twice already, and can’t thank you enough for it.

  108. karen

    I made these yesterday and they were fabulous. I did not use gelatin and I used heavy cream instead of milk. I used Nestle brand dulce de leche which I bought at a hispanic market for a reasonable price – I think it was 2.49 for a can the size of a can of condensed milk. I used most of the can – I eyeballed it. My cheesecake layer is darker than what’s in your photos. My 14 year old daughter said I could put the Cheesecake Factory out of business.

  109. 5280Mommy

    Just returned from a trip to Argentina and will worship at the temple of dulce de leche for the rest of my life. We were there for two weeks and enjoyed it in some form almost every day. My favorite was Panqueque de Dulce de Leche (easy translation: a crepe filled with dulce de leche). I’m neither a cheesecake nor a crepe maker, but with your recipe and the lingering memory of the panqueques, I will die trying. A close second favorite is dulce de leche ice cream “con granizado” – teeny bittersweet dark chocolate chips. Oh. My. God.

  110. Candy

    I made this cheesecake for the Mother’s Day Girls Weekend.
    Was a tremendous hit. I normally like cheesecake plain, but the chocolate on top was great. Cooking the condensed milk was the only part that I was unsure about. I cooked it for over an hour in a double boiler (of sorts). It never changed consistancy or color. The end result was good, so I think that is the important part. Thank you for a great recipe. I will make it again.

  111. Salma

    Your writing just had me laughing n laughing:) thanks… needed a pick up… oh, n those little beauties look FABULOUS… must try’em soon!

  112. shayna

    I can’t believe no one mentioned my favorite use for dulce de leche, or maybe people aren’t as familiar with it? – torta chilena. The name would suggest Chilean, yes? But it seems to be a popular recipe among the Costa Rican set. I don’t have a recipe handy, but several come up on the magical google. A friend, who is from Costa Rica, and a pastry chef, used to make it when I was a kid and it was to DIE for. I tried it myself and it was… close. I’ll have to try it again sometime, but torta chilena – I highly recommend it.

  113. Sweetcherryberry

    I love this recipe! I’ll be making it he 2nd time today. The first was a real sellout! All my friends loved it! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and wonderful photos!

  114. Terry’s Wife

    I made this over the weekend and it was a huge hit. Next time, I think I’ll leave the chocolate out so you can taste the dulce de lech goodness in the cheesecake, although I’m not complaining, chocolate is always welcome.

  115. These are amazing! (Only changes I made were to use some ginger cookies I had around for the crust & eliminate the sugar.) The interesting thing, they have lasted over a week in the fridge with absolutely NO dimunition of quality. (Could that have something to do with the gelatin?) Important for me, because I have a restaurant & we bake only once a week.

  116. Brooke

    I made this a week ago for an art student shindig and they went over very well. Granted we are all students and will eat anything.
    I freaked my roommate out while talking about how I was going to make this dulce de leche and by much convincing from her I opted out of the can in the water route and went with the suggestion of putting it in the oven. I poured out the condensed milk into a cake pan and placed the pan in a bath of water. The first hour was slow at about 200 degrees so I turned it up to about 300 degrees and waited for another hour and a half- stirring occasionally. It certainly became much sweeter, thicker and a light caramel color and by then I was antsy and wanted to get this cheesecake rolling.
    If I ever make this again I will let the dulce de leche cook longer to get a darker caramel color, but my roomie and I were dunking our fingers in the left overs all night moaning about the sore stomach we were soon to encounter due to too much sugar. So it was still a delicious concoction.
    The only real problem I came a cross was the chocolate layer on top- it became a hard layer that did not connect to the cheesecake and made it difficult to eat. I think I should’ve just let the cake come to room temp before pouring on the warm chocolate on.
    All in all it was a veryy tasty treat.

  117. chris

    thanks for the wonderful recipe, deb… although mine didnt turn out as gorgeous as your cheesecake. first off, i didnt follow your recipe to the letter. i didnt melt the butter and skipped the salt and sugar for the crust bec. i thought the ddl would be too sweet. secondly, i didnt check my scoop carefully and doubled the quantity of gelatin into the milk, too late to take back the excess. lastly, i forgot about the baine-marie or hot water bath and stuck the pan straight into the oven. and i wondered why i had a firm cake, like biting into a flan instead of teeth gently sinking into the custard like texture of the cheesecake. and yes, it was lacking in sweetness. but i have to admit though, this ddl cheesecake i was the most gorgeous-looking among those i made.

  118. chris

    btw, i wonder though whymy cheesecake had the color of mocha and not as light as yours? i had the ddl cooked straight from the can and it came out the color of amber. did your ddl cooked out of the can turn out darker or lighter?

  119. deb

    Hi Chris — Yours is probably darker because you did it right. I was a newbie to dulce when I made this and did not cook it nearly dark enough (probably why I felt that the flavor wasn’t very noticeable, either).

  120. Kay in AZ

    I got married in 1964 (yes…I’m OLD!). One of the first times I went to my in-laws’ for dinner my husband’s mother was “boiling” a can of Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk. I thought she was loony (I later learned she was fabulous in every way). I wanted out of that potential disaster-house immediately! After she removed the can from the boiling water and let it cool, it was served as a small slice in a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Delicious. I created the same dessert several times, but did always worried about the explosion factor. I’ve never read any reports. Where are they?

  121. Thank you for this recipe — I made these this past weekend, and they are so so so good. My loves-to-tinker-with-recipes boyfriend suggested, after the fact, that they’d be even more amazing with some cinnamon added. I wonder whether it’d be yummy to add cinnamon to the condensed milk while making the dulce de leche, or whether it would be better added when mixing the cheesecake filling.

  122. Alli

    I just made these yummy little squares and they are DEVINE! The kitchen smelled so nice all day too! I added 1/4 cup sour cream to the mix and tossed pecans into the crust mix as well, one of the best cheesecakes I have ever tried! It was my first cheesecake and I could not be more pleased with the results, thanks! I’m so happy I found the site on accident! Oh and I made the Dulche de Leche in the can, but I punctured the top and filled the water 1/4 inch to the top– no explosion!

  123. TRANSLATION: (Is there a glossary out there somewhere by the way?

    US to Uk and NZ…..

    Graham crackers= Digestive biscuits.

    Just to save anyone else having to google it.

  124. This is the second recipe I’ve made from your site (the first being the very tasty Whole Wheat Apple Muffins), and it was sooo good. I made these to take to a photography opening – they were perfect, looking so decadent in their little petite four cups. I had no idea what dulce de leche actually was, either, so thanks for the education!

  125. anna

    um, amazing. had never made cheesecake before and greatly underestimated how long it would take me to put this together, wound up thinking i had underbaked the whole damn thing, and it turned out PERFECTLY!!!
    i did it in a spring form and froze it before i sliced it and everything came out gorgeously.
    i totally cheated and used the already made dulce de leche, carnation makes it, its in the mexican aisle at my grocery store, and i can pretty much eat it out of the can straight.
    added a little bit of cayenne to the ganache and sprinkled with fleur de sel.

  126. Sharon

    In echoing Debbies previous comment on making dulce de lache without courting danger and death from a boiled unopened can by baking the sweetened condensed milk in a foil covered pie pan set in a bain-marie, let me just say I make a fab dulce de lache by setting the oven to 400 degrees and not doing a darn thing for an hour, then take it out and stir. No stirring, no peeking, just sitting waiting for that sweet ambrosia to cool down. Forget “death by chocolate”, this South American caramel is sublime!

  127. Olga

    Oh dear… I’m drooling already!
    I have the sweetest tooth on earth. And I cannot bypass anything dairy: milki, sweet cream, saour cream, ice cream, cheese, cheesecake, yogurt, flan… mhhhh… flan!

  128. I made dulce de leche in a can but I open up a couple small holes at the top to alleviate most of the danger factor. A little will spill out on to the top just skim it off before it gets in the water, although if it does its fine. You just dont let water get over the top of the can. Then, you can check the progress and get the right consistency.

  129. Judy Johnson

    I made the dulce de leche last week in the can in my crockpot. Remove the label, put can in the crockpot wirh a folded paper towel underneath, cover with water and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove with tongs and let cool. I was afraid of boiling on the stovetop, too, but this worked beautifully. Delicious!

  130. margarita

    Can you boil a can of sweetened condensed milk and then only open it 3 or 4 days later? (I’m going camping and hoping I can do this.) Is it safe?

  131. Hello Deb,

    Question about the recipe quantities. The filling calls for “1 cup dulce de leche (12 1/2 oz)” and my counter top gets really messy when I pour 12.5 oz into my Pyrex measuring cup. I Wiki’d “cup” and found that an Imperial cup is about 20% more than my cup and an Aussie cup is about 10% more while a Japanese cup is a skosh more than the American but I can find anything that’s as much as 50% more. So, do I need 1.5 cups of the ddl for the 12 oz plus, or will 8 oz do it? Or are you thinking we’ll all sample the extra 4.5 oz and only the called for 8 oz will end up in the filling?

    Thanks for a great recipe

  132. chris

    hi deb. i made the cheesecake several times and its my standard recipe now. thanks thanks thanks! as for making the ddl straight from the can, i think mine is the easiest way, though if you have safety issues, i don’t think you would consider. anyway, here’s how i do it. i fill a pressure cooker with water about two inches above the rim of the can. i remove the paper wrapping and cook about five to six cans at a time. i use the pressure cooker as instructed and cook it for 45 minutes to an hour, depends on how firm i want the ddl to be. so far, no accidents for me. my mom told me she’s been doing it that way since i was a kid, though i did boil mine in regular pot for 3 to six hours several years ago (margarita, i hope this info helps). the firmest ddl we made was the one that can stand upright after opening both ends of the can, and pushing it out of the can. kids love to dig in their spoon and eat it like candy! oh, how dentist-friendly! i also use the ddl as sandwich filling, and the creamier kind ddl as first coating to cakes before putting the final frosting. it’s the “secret flavor” of my cake. well now, it isnt a secret anymore. :).

  133. briana

    Does anyone know what could cause the dulce de leche to come out lumpy? I did the oven method and got great color and flavor but small lumps throughout !?!

  134. AussieYank

    deb – I’ve been trolling through your site for a few days and finally done this as my first recipe – DIVINE!!! I love the stories you tell. I love the fact that your recipes fail sometimes too – for no obvious reason. I love that you substitute ingredients so boldly and sometimes just use the wrong one by mistake. It’s nice to find someone who loves cooking/baking so much but doesn’t pretend it works out right everytime.

    I’ve printed off a handful of other recipes to try. No doubt they’ll be just as lovely. Thanks and all the best with your big arrival coming soon.

  135. Jennifer

    I found that you can boil the sweetened condensed milk in the microwave and then you don’t have to worry about explosions! (For all of us “chickens” in the kitchen!) Pretty awesome to watch the SCM change colors as you stir the stuff every few minutes. Instructions can be found on Eagle Family Foods. MICROWAVE METHOD: Pour 1 can EAGLE BRAND® into 2-quart glass measuring cup. Cook on MEDIUM (50% power) 4 minutes, stirring briskly every 2 minutes until smooth. Cook on MEDIUM_LOW (30% power) 20 to 25 minutes or until very thick and caramel-colored, stirring briskly every 4 minutes during the first 16 minutes and every 2 minutes during the last 4 to 10 minutes.

  136. Delia

    I made this recipe yesterday and took the finished squares in a clear lidded container to an italian restaurant in town to meet some friends for lunch. They came out so pretty that one of the waiters in the restaurant came by and asked if I would sell her one! I gave her a freebie and she quickly came by and gave rave reviews and asked if I owned a bakery in town! My friends were all equally impressed! Thanks for another great recipe, I really, really love your blog!

    Just wondering, if one were to want to make the cheesecake a peanut butter version, how much PB would you use in place of the dulce de leche and do you think any other modifications would need to be made? I keep thinking that baked in my mini cheesecake pan, they would make tasty peanut butter cups!

  137. Phyllis

    Love your website! I want to make these for a Halloween bake-off at work Friday. I have to have them ready to be tasted first thing in the morning (8:30). Question about the chocolate glaze: It says to glaze 2 hours before serving and also says to glaze and then chill 30 minutes. Do you think it would be OK to glaze it the night before? I read someone’s comment that said the glaze was hard and didn’t really “attach” to the cheesecake. I wonder if that’s because it chilled too long? What do you suggest? I could make the glaze, pour on and chill for 30 minutes before I go to work, but would rather do it the night before if it would come out OK. Could not manage the 2 hours in advance, though. Any clarification or advice?? Thanks!!

  138. I made these Sunday/Monday. There are six left. I’m trying really hard not to eat them because I want my parents to try them on Saturday. They’re just so delicious!

    For me, cutting them was the hardest part. So I returned them to the refrigerator whenever the cutting became treacherous. They get more structurally sound the longer they’re in there.

    These were dessert for Tomato Sausage risotto, and those that got to eat both were thrilled.

    I spend a lot of time on your blog, the photography is amazing and the recipes are great fun. My favorite so far is the Butternut Squash and Carmelized Onion Galette, which I’ve been making for holiday meals (now that I have a functioning pastry blender, it’s a lot easier). Needless to say, I will pretty much make whatever you tell me to.

    Thank you for endeavoring to make foodies of us all.
    We really do appreciate it.

  139. Emily

    Hi Deb, I’m wondering if you ever got to the question posted just a few above from Phyllis re: glazing the night before. I want to make these for an office party but wouldn’t be able to put glaze on two hours in advance. Any suggestions?

  140. Francheska

    Emily, When I take them out of the oven I let them cool a bit and pop them in the freezer like 15 minutes,glaze and in the fridge it goes, after an hour or even half I cut it in squares and they always turn out perfect, I’ve waited the 8 hours to glaze them and done it this way and there’s really no difference at all =)

  141. Mie

    Hi Deb! Found your blog from another baking blog. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts!

    I have a couple of questions about this recipe (one of which is probably extremely silly, but I’m new to this baking stuff). Will it matter if I use dark corn syrup instead of light for the glaze? Also, how long will this keep glazed?


  142. Erin

    I’ll be making this for my Fitness Boot Camp Survivors party (my trainer’s going to kill me… he he) but don’t know if I’ll need to bring all 64 or so squares to the party. Has anyone tried to freeze squares after they’ve been cut? I figure I’d let them freeze solid while unwrapped on a sheet pan and then wrap them into individual yummy bundles. Just wondering if they hold up well having been frozen and how quickly they’ll need to be eaten. Thanks for the help!

    1. deb

      Hi Erin — We froze ours but then we ate them anyway, so I can’t tell you with any authority how long they can last. In theory, though, I’d think a month, well wrapped.

  143. Abbey

    I made these yesterday, and they are absolutely delicious. I needed my dulce de leche fast, so I tried the microwave method. Let me tell you, the recipe writers are not kidding when they say you need a large bowl. I boiled my condensed milk over the sides of the bowl allllll over the inside of my microwave. I had another can of milk, tried it again with a larger bowl, and it turned out beautifully. My cheesecake bars were a bit darker than yours as well, but I think it is just from cooking my dulce de leche longer. This was ridiculously good, and the leftovers are in my freezer awaiting my next diet cheat day!

  144. Rachel

    I made a TON of changes to this recipe, and it still worked beautifully, in case anyone is wondering about whether they can make these changes themselves. I can’t eat cow dairy, but goat is fine, and I recently discovered a super-mild chevre that tastes pretty much exactly like cream cheese. I used this instead of the cream cheese in this recipe (and omitted the salt, since chevre is saltier than cream cheese).
    I also made my own dulce de leche from scratch – quart of whole goats milk simmered with 1.5 cups of sugar and a vanilla bean until dissolved, then add 1/2 tsp baking soda (it foams like whoa) and simmer super-low until reduced to about one cup (which takes about 3 hours!) I actually let this go a little too far and it was very firm and somewhat gritty, but blended perfectly in to the filling. No grittiness in the final product, completely smooth.
    I was out of gelatin, so I used agar-agar powder, same amount. Agar-agar is made from seaweed I think, so this is a vegetarian alternative.
    I also used an egg replacer instead of eggs.
    Because I lost the binding power of the eggs and was a teensy bit short on the chevre, I knew these wouldn’t be firm enough to make into bars, so I baked the cake in a glass pie dish and served as slices.
    Awesome! Sooo good. I need to enlist help in eating the rest of the dish if I don’t want to spend all my waking hours in the gym from now on.

  145. Rachel

    These are out of this world. I made them exactly according to recipe, and they were little bites of heaven. Not an every-day treat at all, but so special and sophisticated to bring to a couples, or special-occasion dinner. I found the kids were not into the “grown up” taste. Could’ve been the bittersweet chocolate, but that just meant more for us! Thank you so much for sharing!

  146. Stumbled across your article while seeking through yahoo. I read the very first paragraph and its good! I do not have time to finish it now, but I have bookmarked your website and will go through the rest tonight. : )

  147. Rebecca

    I’ve made these cheesecake squares both with and without gelatin and it sets up just fine without gelatin. I barely had to bake it longer too so for those who are worried about gelatin, just skip it. It tastes great and cuts up into the little bites just fine. Also, I skipped the corn syrup (mostly because i don’t like using it) and added in a little bit of heavy cream instead…I didn’t measure but if I had to guess, maybe 2-3 tablespoons and that also turned out fine. I LOVE this recipe. I can eat 20 of the bites in one sitting if I’m not careful.

  148. Elaine

    These were incredible! A taste different from regular cheesecake, but if you didn’t know, you couldn’t pinpoint it. I live in New Mexico and delivered it for a presentation, and all the Hispanics were excited for dulce de leche. I think they were impressed by this white girl.

  149. Claudia López

    Great Blog and Recipes! I am waiting for a special occasion to cook one of them. I have a question, with this recipe do you use a normal baking pan or one of those spring pans? Thanks

  150. Robin

    Dulce de Leche recipe: Banoffee pie, a british classic.

    This is super easy, and total crack. Graham-cracker crust, lined with bananas, filled with dulce de leche, and then covered in whipped cream. Could prob do lots of yummy variations, like adding chocolate, or perhaps adding something to the ddl to make it set. It’s like banana cream pie but so, so much better.

  151. rose

    deb –
    i’m making these for an event and i noticed that your bars are very neat and have sharply cut clean lines. what did you use to cut the bars/did you do anything special? or is it because they were properly cooled?
    your tips are appreciated!

    1. deb

      I cut things when they’re as cold as possible. Wipe the knife between each cut. If you’re still not getting a clean cut, put the dish in the freezer until firm and try again.

  152. Eliina

    I made these for a Superbowl party last week and thought they were just okay considering the amount of work that went into them. Though my husband and I enjoyed sampling the dulce de leche before I stirred it into the cheesecake mixture, we could not taste it at all in the completed squares. Also, I kind of felt like the bittersweet chocolate overpowered the cheesecake flavor. I love the idea, and the gelatin made these easy to serve in squares. Next time I might just do cheesecake squares with a bowl of dulce de leche on the side.

  153. Kate

    Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes! I’ve tried several of them – all of which have been successful thus far – and they’ve all been huge hits with friends and family. These made my grandmother’s night.

  154. Nadee

    I tried it. And followed the recipe exactly as per the instructions. It came out well. I used Philadelphia light cheese 250g. And used Marie biscuits as I can’t find graham crackers in my country. Also substituted corn syrup with liquid glucose. But the cake came out really well.

  155. Beth

    This looks delish! I cannot wait to make it for an upcoming picnic. My only question is if it will do well sitting outside? Or should it be kept cold at all times?

    1. deb

      Cheesecakes are best kept cold. I don’t think it would actually go bad very quickly — cream cheese is a very stable ingredient, for being cheese and all — but it would get soft and warm.

  156. Cecilia

    Well, in Argentina we eat it with mostly everything! there’s an ice-cream here that is called “Dulce de leche granizado” (dulce de leche with chocolate chips) it’s amazing

  157. camila

    A typical snack for children in Argentina is mashed banana with dulce de leche. You just mash the two of them togeather and its delicious!!

  158. Todd

    First cheesecake recipe I’ve ever attempted to make, and it is amazing. I’ll not be searching for another recipe for cheesecake :)

  159. May

    First of all, I love love love your fantastic stories and literary drool-inducing descriptions that always accompany your recipe.

    Secondly, dulce de leche is my boyfriend’s most favourite thing in the world and I’ve been wanting to try this recipe out for the longest time (his birthday is in a few days, so here’s my chance). The only problem is, he’s lactose intolerant! If I substitute all the dairy products for lactose-free products, will this ruin the entire cheesecake?

  160. Michelle J

    Deb, these look amazing and I’ve been thinking about cheesecake lately for some reason! Just wondering, how do these transport? I need a dessert for my kids school auction, do you have any suggestions?? Thanks so much, I just love your site!

  161. Paula

    In Costa Rica (and I guess in most Latin America countries) we find canned Dulce de Leche in the supermarket or local stores; but when i want to make it myself, the easiest way is to place a condensed milk can inside the pressure cooker with enough water to cover the can. Give it ten to twenty minutes on low heat after it reaches pressure and you’re done. The longer you cook it the darker and more “caramel like” it gets. This recipe looks amazing, I will try it this weekend and let you know how it goes.

  162. I made this in a 9″ round springform pan and served it as a cake…it worked beautifully! I think gelatin in the cheesecake batter is genius. My husband thinks the chocolate glaze detracts from the cheesy layer so I think next time I make this, I will only drizzle it with melted chocolate. Excellent recipe—one I will make over and over again for sure :)

  163. Mariella

    These look so yummy. I am new to your blog, and now i’m overwhelmed with recipes that I must try. Your banana bread crepe cake looks…heartbreakingly delicious, to put it mildly. 

    I’d agree on dulce de leche it’s the best combination of dairy and caramel. Put inside delectable cakes and pastries or simply just spooned out of a jar to be eaten alone, it is divine.

    You asked how we eat our dulce de leche? Being argentine, the better question for me would be how do we not eat it?

    My mother uses it a lot in her desserts, the most notable being her “Argentinian chocolate cake with Dulce de leche filling”

    Now I’m not sure exactly HOW she makes the base of her chocolate cake, but I know it is not TOO moist, because she later cuts it in half to spread
    Ducle de leche(at times pretty thick) across the middle. Once the middle of the cake, cut in half, is spread generously with ducle de leche..then the fun begins. She takes white merengue cookies and crushes them into little pieces (about half inch pieces) and sprinkles them on the entire width of the middle of the cake over the dulce de leche. On Top of the meringues she puts thin slices of strawberry. She usually only does one layer of all three but it is so so so so so delicious that I’m gonna start convincing her to do 2. She tops off the cake with fresh whipped cream as the frosting and covers the whole outside of the cake with sliced strawberries. Best dessert I’ve ever had in my life, but then again I’m biased.

    Dulce de leche is also the perfect filling for crepes:)

  164. Liina

    hi! I really wanna try these but I’m so confused with the oz’s and cup’s – a problem I often have with recipes, cos where I’m from we use dl’s and grams :( could you give the ingredients in grams as well? and is there anything I can substitute the corn syrup with?

  165. Carol

    I am making these cheesecake squares as I’m typing. I have mt ade them before but I believe it was from the original recipe. I’m a little stumped though, as I put the oven at 325 for the crust but couldn’t find the temp. for the baking part so now I’ve had to monkey around with the temp and add another 40 minutes so far to get if done. What should the temp be???

  166. akampi

    I don’t understand something you said on making the dulce de leche. You say to place it on boiling water, but to cook it on low heat. You can’t get water to boil with low heat. I wonder if you mean to boil the water first then reduce it to low heat as soon as you place the condensed milk on?

  167. Merlin

    For the glaze, did you mean to list the amount of butter as 1/2 cup instead of 1/2 stick? If it’s truly 1/2 stick wouldn’t the weight be 2 oz. then?

  168. Kris

    Hi! I just tried these – they turned out great and the family loved them! I was REALLY worried about them when I put them in the oven though – your recipe says to “smooth the top” of the filling after you pour it in the pan, like a regular cheesecake, but the consistency of my batter was SO runny it was almost like water! Thought I did something wrong but I double-checked the recipe and everything was right. After 45 minutes of baking they had firmed up nicely. Just to let other readers know you might be surprised at how thin the batter is, much more liquid than any other cheesecake I’ve ever made, but don’t worry, they will still turn out!

  169. Mardi Wetmore

    I make my dulce de leche by pouring the can of sweetened condensed milk into two half pint canning jars and then either cooking it in a crockpot (covered by 1″ water) on low for 7-8 hours or cooking the jars in a dutch oven (again covered by 1″ of water) in barely simmering water for 2-3 hours. I have come to favor the second method because I can see how dark the dulce is getting without having to lose the heat from the crock pot. I like my dulce rather dark, so I like being able to monitor it.

    Once you have your dulce, make a Bannoffee pie – truly a swoon-worthy dessert. Since I am single, I make mine in half pint canning jars layering the ingredients. They store well in the refrigerator for up to a week.

  170. Jori

    These look amazing, though is there an easy substitute for corn syrup? My boyfriend and I try not to eat anything with corn syrup/HFCS in it. Thanks!

  171. Ali

    In the Canary Islands, they combine Dulce de Leche, crumbled meringues, crushed digestive biscuits (graham in the US?) and whipped cream in a coarsely crumbled mush- much like an Eton Mess. Delish!

  172. meche

    There´s a strong dispute between Argentina and Uruguay (where I am from) as to the creation of dulce de leche. But that aside, I seriously recommend that you buy imported dulce de leche. There´s a HUGE difference between what you get from boiling condensed milk and the real thing. So please, go buy some. And if it´s Conaprole (Uruguayan brand) you will simply die, guarantied.
    We eat everything with dulce de leche (and offen wonder how people bake without it in the rest of the world) but the most classic birthday cake is a simple genoise (sweet wine of syrope optional), layered with dulce de leche and meringue frosting. Perfection.
    Also, try mixing cocoa powder, dulce de leche and a spoon of butter, and hitting it up until it melts together. It´s a great frosting for chocolate cake.
    And if you love dairy, mix some dulce de leche into a good fatty yogurt.

  173. coleen

    Looks awesome. Thinking about this for father’s day. Any suggestions on a brand of chocolate to use? I want to maximize the awesomeness. Thanks!

  174. Ann

    I love cuadrados de dulce de leche con coco. They are so delicious… with a coconut-sugar crust!
    Or milhojas de dulce de leche.
    I could go on for hours talking about my love to dulce de leche… es lo mejor! jajaj

  175. shira kestenbaum

    Wondering if it is possible to make this ahead of time (ganache and all)? I was thinking of bringing these to a foodie potluck but i will have to make them in advance (the night before, and they will be refrigerated all day till the party).

  176. MarahaK

    I just made the cheesecake and its chilling in the firdge. It looks good and smells amazing! I just realized though, i forgot to spray non-stick spray onto the foil before putting in the crumb crust and filling. Do you think it’ll be difficult to remove the squares after i cut them?

  177. MarahaK

    Okay, just took these out and was pretty disappointed in how they look. The glaze solidified and became really hard instead of being soft and chewy like it looks in the picture. Or is that the way its supposed to be? It wasnt ideal for cutting as it cracked when i tried. Also, the crumb crust was soggy. i managed to salvage them though and they taste pretty great!! Im still gonna serve them to guests and see what they say. Im a bit mystified because i followed the recipe exactly and this is the first time a recipe on smittenkitchen hasnt worked for me =(

  178. Anna

    This looks amazing! I am planning to make this for a party and was wondering if I could chill for 24 hours (instead of 6 hours)? Just want to double check. Thanks!

  179. sheri

    Thanks for the recipe. I’ll be trying it next time I have an excuse to eat such a thing. I am a BIG fan of DDL and the only place I usually find it is in gourmet ice cream, like Hagen Das. It’s a mystery why we don’t eat more of it. It’s nice to see it discussed here, and thanks again for the recipe.

  180. Ibby

    Quick question: if I only have unsweetened dark chocolate, can I use it for the topping and just add sugar/extra syrup? If so, how much should I sweeten it?

  181. Jyl

    If I wanted to make this into a cake, would I simply omit the gelatin? I’ve got a birthday coming up for a cheesecake and dulce de leche loving man :)

  182. deb

    Jyl — I haven’t made it into a cake, so I cannot say for sure that the eggs are enough to bind the mixture without gelatin. Here’s what I’d do, the cheesecake portion of this has always been my go-to “core” cheesecake recipe and proportions. This uses 1 package cream cheese to 2 eggs and 1 cup ddl; that uses; 3 packages cream cheese to 4 eggs. I might replace the 1 cup sugar in that recipe with 1 to 2 cups ddl and go from there.

  183. Liliana

    Ready-to-use dulce de leche can now be found at many supermarkets and big-box retailers that have a grocery section. Look for Nestle brand. It comes in a small can (thicker consistency) and in a squirt bottle (ketchup consistency). Like Meche says above (by the way, being Argentinian, I think Argentina wins the dispute around who invented it) the true dulce de leche beats what you get when boiling condensed milk. Next, try “alfajores de maizena” Deliciosos!

  184. marcella from italy

    Hi Deb, I can’t believe I missed this recipe when it first came out – bless the weekly newsletter then!

    As for a gelatin substitute, what about some very straightforward flour? I’ve always added a couple tbs of it to my cheesecakes (I think it must be a Martha Stewart’s tip) but I’ve checked and found you also used it – in much the same proportions – for you New York Cheesecake. Would that work here too? I’d say half a tbs, skipping the milk…

    Now please excuse me but I’ve got to make these NOW.