Happy Caramel Day! 3 ridiculously delicious dulce de leche desserts

Trust me when I say there's nothing better than celebrating a dessert holiday. I don't mean the pies you have at Thanksgiving or the mountains of chocolate you have on Valentine's Day and Easter. No, I'm actually talking about the random middle-of-the-month food holidays, like Margarita Day and Pig Day that came before this.

But today's the most special day of all. It's Caramel Day!

Doesn't saying that just make your mouth water? We all know that Latinos make a really delicious caramel: dulce de leche. Whether you've ever made it from scratch or buy it at the store, today is the perfect day to indulge in a little sweetness and have that dulce de leche dessert you've been craving. To celebrate, I've found instructions on how to make dulce de leche from scratch as well as a dulce de leche cheese cake squares and dulce de leche sandwich cookies recipe. And if you can't choose which one of these to make, do it like I am: just make it all! After all, it's Caramel Day, isn't it? Enjoy!

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How to Make Dulce de Leche (recipe courtesy of David Lebovitz)

Ingredients:
1 can (400 gram/14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).

2. Pour one can (400 gr/14 ounces) of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) into a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. Stir in a few flecks of sea salt.

3. Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.

4. Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 to 1¼ hours. (Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary).

5. Once the Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk until smooth.

6. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares (recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients (for crust):
3 1/2 oz graham crackers, crumbled (1cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients (for filling):
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz envelope, will be just about half an envelope)
1/4 cup whole milk
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup dulce de leche (12 1/2 oz)

Ingredients (for glaze):
3 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Directions for crust:
1. 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.

2. 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.

Directions for filling:
1. 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.

Directions for Glaze (glaze cake within 2 hours of serving):
1. 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.

2. 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.)

Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies (recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker)

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup store-bought dulce de leche, plus more for filling
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the upper third of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until just softened and broken up a bit.  Add the 3/4 cup dulce de leche, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients all at once.  Mix only until the flour is just incorporated.  You may need to finish off the mixing with a big spatula.

5. Spoon the dough onto the lined baking sheets using a heaping teaspoon of dough for each cookie.  The dough will be soft and this might be a bit messy.  Leave 2 inches of space between each cookie for the baking spread.

6. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes.  The cookies will be honey brown with a light crust, but still very soft when they come out of the oven.  Let them rest on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before removing to cool.

7. Once the cookies are cooled completely, spread them with dulce de leche and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt if you like.  Keep well wrapped for up to four days.

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What is your favorite dessert recipe to make with dulce de leche?

Images via Daniel Leibowitz, Smitten Kitchen, Joy The Baker

 

Topics: array  latin food  latin recipes  traditional latin recipes