Too much of anything is bad but too much cheesecake is always alright!

 
 

This is more or less how a conversation ensues on my midnight adventures:
 

"Oh, I see that you were in the kitchen last night."

"Um, yeah."

"What on earth where you up to?"

"Baking a cheesecake."

"Really? Our fridge is full of things!"

"Mom, that's all the cheesecake I made."

"Who's going to eat it?"

"Us, mom."

"Not me. Why do you go overboard? What's wrong with you?"

"Mom, I am experimenting. Trying out things."

"I see."

"Yeah, it's come out good."

"I see. Who's going to eat it?"

Now, onto the more prettier things in life, worth living for - like a cup of dulce de leche. The delicious Argentinian milky mess. Imagine I was boiling milk with some sugar. Suddenly there is a bleeding gum/a leaking tap. I could have the gum bleed. Or let the tap leak. But imagine I just keep it there on the stove and let the milk make more than love to the sugar. That is dulce de leche for you. Simple as that. (Legend has it that the Argentinian military officer Juan Manual de Rosas' house help, while making lechada--a delicacy made by boiling milk with sugar until caramelised--went to answer the door, and the lechada burnt into what became dulce de leche. If only every mistake turned into something beautiful like this one here!)

Dulce de leche is made when you slowly simmer sweetened milk, while stirring continuously. The water in the milk will evaporate and the mixture will thicken to form a caramel syrup which can be poured over or be used in cakes, pastries or any other desserts. This is the Malliard reaction, the stuff that makes browned food so exquisite. And it's not the same as caramelization.

So, with a tin of condensed milk in the fridge, dulce de leche was on for tonight. However, I had an epiphany that boiled condensed milk, even if it is delicious condensed milk, would not be fun when it explodes all over you and the stove counter when you try to make it with the canning method. Thus, I went with the double boiler method.

Now let me count the many ways a normal cheesecake baking midnight could take an awkward turn. After my  dulce de leche cheesecake came out, I was possessed by a deranged cheesecake spirit. On her orders, I dug out little graves for some finely chopped walnuts and dried blueberries to rest in.

dulce-de-leche-cheesecake

And the dug out balls had some fun skinny dipping in the most gorgeous melted chocolate [wickedly imbued with some Kahlua], before heading over to roll over and get dressed up in a mix of cocoa powder, icing sugar and some sugar sprinkles. Ah, rocky mountain cheesecake truffles! One particular truffle got some royal treatment by getting Kahlua chocolate ganache over her again and a beautiful walnut crown.

dulce-de-leche-cheesecake
dulce-de-leche-cheesecake

And then if those were not enough, I had some amount of batter left with which I made these mini cheesecakes. Yeah, I have absolutely no self control at this time of night when I am making sweet love to... come on. I am talking about my cheesecake here. I mean with a huge bowl of luscious chocolate ganache on the counter, how in the world would I be able to leave it and go sleep?

dulce-de-leche-cheesecake
dulce-de-leche-cheesecake

So I bake these babies, lay them upside down over on a piece of parchment paper, and begin dribbling the Kahlua chocolate glaze over it. When it pours down and touches the paper, and just about begins to slither away around, I put a spell on it and it stops right there. I want to add to the torture, so I rain the sugar sprinkles over it, slice fresh strawberries into halves and place it neatly over each one.

dulce-de-leche-cheesecake
dulce-de-leche-cheesecake

This is my quiet midnight snack for tomorrow. I just need to open up my fridge, tuck in my hand and get to heaven. No slicing, no nothing. As I said, all I need is a mini refrigerator in my room.

dulce-de-leche-cheesecake
dulce-de-leche-cheesecake

The next day I get up and have a gorgeous slice that was born a few hours ago. No, don't look at me. I eat cheesecake for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I wish. My life is spoilt like that.

If it's warm, the better - haven't I told you? Only thing that really gets into my nerves--and between my teeth--are the walnuts, these annoying little walnut crumbs! Nuts do not go well with cheesecake, take that from me. You could try it for the crust, but please spare the filling. That's the natural order. Uninterrupted cheesecake.

dulce-de-leche-cheesecake
dulce-de-leche-cheesecake

And the cheesecake truffles. These are best served chilled.

dulce-de-leche-cheesecake

There's more hard work involved in the cheesecake truffles but then I love having cheesecake pops in the fridge that I can most easily access and devour.

dulce-de-leche-cheesecake

As for my cheesey cheesecake song, check out this Laura Branigan hit of '84 called 'Self Control'

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake [Adapted from a cookbook]

To make the Dulce de Leche, I think this, from the Delicious Wordflux blog, works:

'1 can sweetened condensed milk

Method in the stovetop:

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a of double-boiler pan; cover. Place over boiling water. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 60 minutes, or until thick and light caramel-colored. Remove from heat and whisk until smooth (it gets thicker as it cools).'

( http://www.deliciouswordflux.com/2011/04/how-to-make-dulce-de-leche/ )

You can also find a David Lebovitz recipe here: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/11/dulce-de-lechec/

Or, do your own home made ones from milk. This way,

'Confiture de Lait – Dulce de Leche

  • 2 litres of whole milk (1/2 gallon)
  • 500g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 vanilla pods (optional*)

Add milk, sugar, and salt into a pot large enough that there are a few inches between the level of the milk and the top of the pot. Cut the vanilla pods lengthwise, scrape the seeds from the pods and add everything into the pot. Turn the heat to medium high, whisk or stir the mixture constantly until it comes to a full boil. Turn the heat down to a low simmer, and continue to cook, uncovered, for 3 hours. When in doubt, turn the heat lower. If the heat is too high your milk will boil over and develop a rough skin on top, which won’t dissolve no matter how much you whisk later. Whereas when the heat is too low you’ll just have to cook it longer, no harm done.

Check the consistency of your confiture at about 2.5 hours. The consistency you are looking for is a loose caramel. (The confiture will thickens a bit after it cools.) This batch took just over three hours to reach the consistency I like. When it gets there, remove the vanilla pods, whisk the confiture until smooth. Pour into small jars and let cool. When the confiture cools down completely, put the lid on the jars and keep in the fridge.'

Courtesy: Chezpim Blog.

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Finally, the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

Crust:

  • 1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

  • 450g cream cheese, softened.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsns corn starch, sifted.
  • 2 tbsns all purpose flour, sifted.
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup sour cream.
  • 3 large eggs
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche

---------------------

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 190 C. Lightly spray the inside of a springform pan with cooking spray. [Grease your pan and place parchment papers on it.]

To make the crust, mix the Oreo crumbs and melted butter in a medium bowl until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom of the greased pan. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, until creamy, about 2 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, mixing just until each one is incorporated. Mix in the corn starch and the flour. Beat in the sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla essence until mixture is smooth. Transfer 1/2 cup of the batter to a small bowl. Add the dulce de leche and whisk until combined. Pour the plain batter into the chilled crust. Place a dollop of dulce de leche batter on the top. Insert butter knife into the batter and swirl the two batters together for a marbling effect.

Bake until the sides of the filling are slightly puffed and the centre is almost set, 45-55 minutes. Transfer the cheesecake to a wire cake rack. Run a knife around the inside of the pan to release the cheesecake. Cool completely.

You could cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or else get a seizure and dig out balls for cheesecake truffles or pops.

Or just dive in.