Hello everyone. Here we are two days before Shavuot – the holiday during which we eat tons and tons of dairy to make up for all the other holidays in which we eat meat. Rocker Dude, being of a lactose intolerant nature, does not enjoy this holiday as much as other people, and this year, due to Squeaker’s sensitivities, I will be joining him in the non-dairy consuming club. But don’t worry, to make up for this, when I do stop nursing her, we will have a make-up Shavuot filled with all sorts of dairy delicacies.
In any case, at this time of year, the interwebs are filled with tons of cheesecake recipes of all varieties. As we were having a cheesecake celebration at work, I wanted to make something different, something new. I spent a morning exploring options for possible flavorings, and settled on two options – something caramely or a brownie cheesecake. I knew that I would only have a few hours to make the cake on Saturday night as I did not want to stay up past midnight, so I decided to go with the caramel cheesecake for work.
I bounced around possible versions in my head for a few days and finally on Saturday I finalized how I would go about making it. I had bought dulce de leche to mix into the cheese, but then I read on the container that it is not suitable for cooking in high temperatures, so I freaked. What was I supposed to do now??? Do I just make a standard cheesecake and put the dulce de leche on top? Do I scrap the idea completely? Major dilemma.
I wanted to get the caramel flavor into the cake itself, so in the end, as I was measuring the sugar to mix into the batter, I decided to caramelize it first. I threw the whole cup and a half straight into a pot and set it on the fire. I knew that it would be hard when it cooled, but that I could probably use the cheese to smooth the caramel out. When the caramel was ready, I put in half of the cheese because I didn’t want the consistency to change too much. After much stirring, the caramel smoothed out and became usable in the cheesecake. I mixed it with the rest of the ingredients and into the oven it went.
My one issue with this whole affair was that I would not be able to taste the cheesecake when it was done – how would I know if it even tasted good?? Well, we put our faith in God.
When the cheesecake cooled, I spread the dulce de leche on top so that this cake would have a double whammy of caramel flavor.
I brought the cake to work the next day and let me just say, God delivered. It was a hit all around, the consistency was perfect, and the caramel flavor was there. I even snuck a bite (hope it doesn’t come back to bite me later when Squeaker wakes up crying at night because her tummy hurts), and it was delicious.
If you need a cheesecake pick-me-up – here you go. Also, just because I am curious, do you say car-a-mel or car-mel?
50 g tea biscuits, crushed into fine crumbs
50 g butter or margarine, melted
1 tbsp. brown sugar
Cake:750 g white cheese (gevina levana) 5%, or equivalent amount of cream cheese
3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
400 g dulce de leche
Preheat oven to 150 degrees C/320 degrees F. Combine all the ingredients for the crust and press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan, or a 9×13 rectangular pan (the crust will just be a tad thinner). Bake the crust for ten minutes until it is lightly browned.
Place the sugar in a pot over medium-low heat. Without stirring, let the sugar heat up until it dissolves. You can use a wet pastry brush to wash down the sides of the pot from any sugar crystals that might creep up. When the sugar starts browning, take it off the fire to ensure that it doesn’t get too dark. It should stay a light amber color. The sugar will still cook after it is removed from the fire. Once you have reached the desired caramel color, add half of the cheese to the pot. The caramel will seize up and bubble, but keep stirring the mixture over the medium-low heat, and it will soften and mix into the cheese. Set aside to cool (or refrigerate for 10 minutes or so.
In a bowl, mix up the rest of the ingredients, being careful to not incorporate too much air. Add the caramel mixture and mix well. Bang the bowl firmly on the table or counter to pop any air bubbles that might have gotten in. Gently pour the batter over the crust and place the pan in the oven. Because I usually cook my cheesecakes in my toaster oven I don’t have space for a water bath, so I just undercook the cake slightly – it should still be jiggly in the middle, and usually that is enough to prevent cracking. Also, covering the cake with a topping helps.
When the cake is completely cool, spread the dulce de leche over the top of the cake. Slice and serve!
You can also melt some chocolate with some heavy cream and drizzle it on top of the cake and that would be delicious too. I just didn’t have time for it.