Salted Dulce de Leche Cheesecake!

I had the idea for this recipe when my husband brought home a box of the new Dulce de Leche Cheerios.  Up until that moment, I didn't even know they existed, but they do, and let me tell you...once you have dulce de leche Cheerios, no other Cheerio will do.  Just ask my thirteen month old son.  I started thinking about all of the great recipes these round little gems of goodness could become, and of course, cheesecake was at the top of the list.  So here it is...

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Here is the step-by-step (and believe me, it's WAY easier than it should be):

If you can't find Dulce de Leche Cheerios, you can use graham crackers...no biggie.  Anyway, crush about 1 1/2 cups of Cheerios in the food processor until fine.  In a separate bowl, add 6 tablespoons of butter until coated.

Push the Cheerios into the bottom and a little up the sides of a springform pan that has been well sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  If you don't have a springform pan, you can use a regular round pan.  Just make sure you spray it well with cooking spray and you may want to line the bottom with parchment paper.  Place in a preheated 350* oven and bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Lower the oven temperature to 325*

If using a springform pan, once it is cool, wrap the bottom with foil to prevent the water from the water bath from seeping in. 

~ For the Cheesecake Filling ~

 In a large mixing bowl, cream 4, 8 ounce boxes of cream cheese and 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar on medium high speed for about 5 minutes or until light and creamy like the picture above.

With the mixer on medium speed, beat in 4 large eggs one at a time.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.  Once incorporated, mix in 1/4 cup of sour cream and 1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla.  Add 1 bag of the Kraft Caramel Bits.  I found the caramel bits at Target in the baking isle, but I'm sure that you can find them at the grocery store as well.  Beat until thoroughly combined.

Put your pan inside a large roasting pan or another large dish with high sides.  Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan.  Place into an oven that has been preheat to 325*.

Once you have placed the pans in the oven, fill the large pan with hot water.  Pour enough in that it goes about half way up the cheesecake pan.  Do not pour the water to where it reaches over the foil to prevent water from seeping in to the pan.  Cook for 1 and a half hours.

Once the cake is ready, CAREFULLY take the pans out of the oven and remove the cheesecake pan from the roasting pan.  Let cool for 2-3 hours.  Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.  My cheesecake got a little more brown than what I wanted.  That's what I get for not timing it better and letting my husband "keep an eye on it" while I was putting my son to bed.  :-)  It doesn't really matter since it's going to be covered in dulce de leche.  A good trick to try is to turn the oven off and open the door wide.  Let it sit in the oven for another 2 hours.  It will continue to cook without browning.

~ For the Dulce de Leche Topping ~
There are many ways to make dulce de leche.  Boiling the can is a popular method.  I like this method because I can "set it and forget it" and it makes great dulce de leche.  If you have a procedure you like, use it...this is what I use:

For the dulce de leche topping, put one 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow glass baking dish.  Add a little sea salt to it.

Cover the condensed milk tightly with foil and place inside another larger baking dish with high sides.  Place in a preheated 425* oven.

Once in the oven pour hot water into the larger baking dish until it is halfway up the side of the smaller dish.  Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Check the water periodically and add more if necessary.  Once the milk has turned a caramel color, remove from the oven and let cool.

Once cooled, whisk the dulce de leche until smooth.

Take the cheesecake out of the refrigerator and remove from the springform pan.  If the sides are a little messy, just take a warm wet knife and smooth the edges.  Pour the dulce de leche over the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides....YUM!

Looks yummy, right?!?!  It is....so much so, that I had to give half of the cake to my neighbors.  

Lucky neighbors.

Salted Duce de Leche Cheerio Cheesecake
For the crust-
1 1/2 cups crushed Dulce de Leche Cheerios or graham crackers
6 T butter, melted

For the filling- 
4, 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature 
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 bag of Kraft Caramel bits (I found them at Target)

For the topping-
1, 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the crust-
*  Preheat the oven to 350*.
*  Crush the Cheerios (or graham crackers) in a food processor or blender
*  In a separate bowl, add 6 tablespoon of melted butter to the crumbs.  Stir until combined. 
*  Press the crumbs into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
*  Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.  Remove and let cool.  Lower the oven temperature to 325*.

For the filling:
*  In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened cream cheese and sugar on medium high speed for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.  
*  With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time until well incorporated.
*  Turn the mixer to low and add the sour cream, vanilla, and caramel bits.  Mix until incorporated.
*  Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the crust.
*  Put the cheesecake pan into a large roasting pan with high sides.  Place into the oven at 325*.  Pour hot water into the larger pan until it reaches half way up the side of the cheesecake pan.  Make sure that it doesn't go higher than the foil.
*  Bake for about an hour and a half or until the center is almost set.  To prevent too much browning on top, turn off the oven before the center is completely set and leave the pans in the oven.  Open the door wide and let it cool like that for another 2 hours or so.  That will let it continue cooking slowly without browning.
*  Remove the pans from the oven CAREFULLY.  Remove the cheesecake pan from the larger pan and let cool at room temperature for 2-3 hours.  Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight.

For the topping:
*  Preheat the oven to 425*.
*  In a shallow glass baking dish, pour the sweetened condensed milk.  Add the sea salt.
*  Cover the dish tightly with foil, and place the dish into a larger baking dish with high sides.
*  Place in the oven and pour hot water into the larger dish until it reaches halfway up the sides of the smaller dish.
*  Bake for 1 to 1 hour 15 minutes.  Check the water periodically and add more water, if necessary.  When done, the dulce de leche will be a nice caramel color.
*  Remove from the oven and let cool.
*  Once cool, whisk the dulce de leche until smooth.
*  Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator and remove the side of the springform pan.  If the sides are messy, use a warm knife to smooth the edges.  Leave the cheesecake on the bottom of the pan.
*  Pour the dulce de leche over the top of the cheesecake and let it drip down the sides.



Mini Donuts!

These were a result of a trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  Dang you, BB&B!  I went in to replace the hubby's coffee maker and walked out with a Ceramic Yoshi Knife (with free peeler!) and a mini donut pan.  Clearly, both of those purchases were absolute necessities.  To assuage my guilt, I made up a batch of mini donuts for my husband to bring to work today.  How can he get mad at me when I clearly was buying this pan for him and his eating pleasure?!?!

Here's the step-by-step:

Seriously, could you resist buying this cute little pan?  Think of all the possibilities....  Anyway, spray the pan with cooking spray.

Sift together 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/ teaspoon baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.  To the dry ingredients, add 1/2 cup milk, 1 beaten egg, and 1 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter.  Stir until it is just combined.  It will be pretty thick.  Fill the donut pan half full with the batter.  I used a cookie press with a large round opening to do this.  Putting the batter in a plastic bag and snipping the corner would work well too.  Put in a preheated oven at 425* and cook for 4-6 minutes.  Let cool for 4-6 minutes before removing the donuts from the pan.

Top with your favorite toppings....a recipe for the vanilla glaze and one for maple glaze is below.


Mini Donuts

 1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoon butter, melted

*  Preheat the oven to 425*.
*  Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
*  Add the milk, egg, and butter and stir until just combined.
*  Pour the batter into the donut pan until it is half full.
*  Bake for 4-6 minutes or until the donuts spring back when touched.
*  Let cool for 4-6 minutes before removing from the pan.  Top with your favorite toppings.

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons of milk, depending on desired thickness of glaze
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

*  Mix together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Add more milk if it is too thick, or add more powdered sugar if it is not thick enough.  
*  If desired, add a little food coloring to tint the glaze.

Maple Glaze
3 T butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
Powdered sugar, enough to reach your desired consistency
*  Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil for two minutes.  Cool.
*  Stir in enough powdered sugar until smooth and it's at your desired consistency.  Top the little donuts to your heart's desire.

(Recipe for the donuts adapted from Wilton).