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Caramel Cheesecake Bites

Makes32 bars
  • Active time: 1 hr
    Total time: 5 hr (includes chilling)
If you choose to bake only one cookie from this collection, make it these bites. The crisp cookie base provides the perfect contrasting setup to the luscious caramel-flavored dulce de leche—caramelized milk—hidden under the creamiest cheesecake layer. The final snazzy drizzle of dulce de leche is not essential, we know, but it makes the bites downright irresistible.
Published in Gourmet Live 12.14.11

INGREDIENTS:

  • Buttery Sugar Cookie dough recipe
  • 20 ounces jarred or canned dulce de leche at room temperature (see Cooks’ Notes)
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

EQUIPMENT:

  • A 13- by 9-inch baking pan; small offset metal spatula (optional but so helpful); disposable pastry bag (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Heat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line a 13- by 9-inch inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang at both ends, and lightly butter.
  • Make Buttery Sugar Cookie dough as directed, but press dough evenly into bottom of pan. Use the flat bottom of a metal cup measure or a glass to compact and press the dough into as even a layer as possible.
  • Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack, and keep oven on.
  • Stir dulce de leche well, then spread 1 1/4 cups of it—there will be some left over—evenly over cookie base with offset spatula and quick-chill in freezer or chill in refrigerator until cold.
  • Slowly beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer (fitted with paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well on medium-low speed after each addition, then mix in vanilla.
  • Spoon cream cheese mixture over dulce de leche. Bake until cheesecake is puffed and edges are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.
  • Cool completely in pan on a rack, then chill until cold, about 3 hours.
  • With aid of foil overhang, lift cheesecake confection from pan.
  • Dip a long sharp knife in a tall glass of hot water and quickly wipe it off, then trim edges of confection (save scraps for snacking). Continuing to dip knife in hot water and wiping it off before every cut, cut cheesecake lengthwise into 8 strips, then crosswise into 4 sections, to form 32 finger-shaped bites.
  • Just before serving, if desired, arrange bites on a large rack set over a large rimmed baking sheet, spacing them apart. Put about 2/3 cup dulce de leche in disposable pastry bag, then snip off a tiny opening. Drizzle the dulce de leche in a diagonal pattern over the bites, letting it drape down the sides.

COOKS’ NOTES:

  • Dulce de leche is available in varying-size jars and cans at many supermarkets, specialty foods stores, and Latino shops. Leftovers are delicious in coffee, drizzled over ice cream, or just eaten by the spoonful.
  • Cheesecake bites—without the final dulce de leche drizzle—keep chilled in an airtight container in single layers, separated by wax paper 5 days. Drizzle with the optional dulce de leche garnish just before serving.
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