There are few things better than a homemade cheesecake. In fact, the only thing that comes to mind is two homemade cheesecakes. Now, some classics shouldn’t be changed—just ask Coke—and cheesecake is one of them. So instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and ending up with a triangle, I decided to blend a classic cheesecake recipe with another beloved dairy dessert: dulce de leche.
Dulce de leche is a popular South American confection made from condensed milk, usually roasted in a water bath. It has a caramel-like taste and a custard-like texture. Put this rich and creamy syrup in a cheesecake and you definitely cover all your “eating dairy on Shavuot” bases—it literally means ‘candy of milk’.
This recipe consists of two parts, the dulce de leche, and the cheesecake. Both are nearly as simple as they are delicious. When combined they create a decadent and beautiful dessert that will leave you wondering how anyone would pass on a cheesecake on Shavuot.
Not Your Bubbe’s Dulce de leche Cheesecake
Yields one large cheesecake or three small loaves
14 oz. can condensed milk
¼ tsp sea salt
2¾ cups crushed cinnamon crackers
½ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp orange peel
Pinch of cinnamon
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup butter (melted)
2 tbsp orange juice
40 oz. cream cheese
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp orange peel
1 tsp orange juice
¼ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp flour
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup coconut milk
½ cup of sour cream
1. Start by making the dulce de leche: pour the condensed milk into a small baking dish and preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
2. Sprinkle the sea salt on top of the condensed milk and tightly wrap the dish with aluminium foil. Then, fill a slightly larger baking dish with boiling water and place the wrapped dish inside it. The water should reach ¾ of the way up the outside of the smaller baking dish; be careful that none of the water spills inside the baking dish.
3. Bake the condensed milk for 60 to 90 minutes, until it turns a caramel-like brown. Be sure to whisk the condensed milk every twenty or so minutes to keep the consistency smooth. Keep your eye on the water level as well, add water occasionally so that the level remains steady.
4. Set dulce de leche aside, let cool. Store in the refrigerator while you prep the cake crust and filling.
5. Next, start the cheesecake by preheating the oven to 350 degrees and preparing the crust. Place the graham cracker crumbs in a medium sized bowl and stir in the spices, orange peel, and brown sugar.
6. Pour the melted butter and orange juice into the bowl and mix. The final result should have the consistency of wet sand.
7. Spray a large spring fold pan (or three small loaf pans) with oil, then press the wet graham cracker crust onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake the cheesecake crust for 15 minutes, then set aside.
8. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, spices, salt, and orange juice until just combined. (Too much beating will cause the cake to crack.)
9. Fold in eggs and yolks, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
10. Beat in coconut milk and sour cream until just combined.
11. Pour cheesecake filling into the cooled crust.
12. Remove dulce de leche from fridge and and place single tablespoon circles, about half an inch apart, across the top of the cake. (You’ll probably have some dulce de leche leftover, which you can serve as an extra dessert.)
13. Take a knife and run it through the circles of dulce de leche, creating swirls like you would if you were making a marble cake.
14. Bake cake for about 50 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the middle of the cake no longer wobbles when you begin to pull it out of the oven.
15. But don’t pull it all way out of the oven! Turn off the oven and leave door ajar. Let the cheesecake reach room temperature in the oven, which will help prevent it from collapsing.
16. When cooled, refrigerate the dulce de leche cheesecake for at least six hours (preferably overnight) before serving.