What says “I Love You” more than cheesecake, dulce de leche, chocolate and whipped cream all in one hand-held mini dessert? In my book, dessert doesn’t get much better that this. And these pocket-sized cups of bliss are small enough that it is easy for me to justify that I’m not really cheating on that healthy-eating-plan, right?
Unless of course, you make THIS MANY, which destroys any illusion of willpower:
This recipe is a loose interpretation of Smitten Kitchen’s Dulce De Leche Cheesecake Squares.
The impetus for trying this recipe came when I found these great free-standing baking cups (technically they are for brioche) from Plastic Container City. I knew that I wanted to make cheesecakes in them, and what better than a dulce de leche flavored cheesecake!
Rather than a graham cracker crust, I used my favorite cheesecake crust which is a simple combination of finely chopped almonds, vanilla wafer cookies and butter.
Place your crust-lined baking cups on a large baking sheet (or use a muffin tin with foil baking cups) and bake for 5 minutes, to toast the almonds.
Cool and pour in the batter. This cheesecake batter is a most delicious combination of cream cheese and dulce de leche, which you can easily make yourself, or purchase premade (look in the Latin section of the ethnic food aisle in the grocery store). But it is really easy to make yourself with just a can of sweetened condensed milk. Check out these tutorials for 6 different ways to make your own Dulce de Leche.
Bake until center is barely set and allow to cool completely.
I drizzled a chocolate glaze over the cooled cheesecakes.
Not wanting to clean chocolate out of my pastry bag, I used a plastic zip-close bag to do the drizzling. (Either snip one corner of the bag, or poke a bamboo skewer through the inside corner of the bag before filling with chocolate). I do recommend using a quality brand freezer-bag, however, so that the bag will not burst at the seams when you squeeze it, leaving you with one VERY chocolatey cheesecake:
After cleaning up my chocolate mess and making an additional batch of chocolate glaze:
I then topped each cheesecake with a swirl of whipped cream. The whipped cream is a stable whipped cream from Coleen’s Recipes. It will hold it’s shape for days in the refrigerator and is stiff enough to pipe with a pastry tip (this time I did use my pastry bag). I would have liked to have used a larger tip, but I don’t own one (yet!). The cream cheese in the whipped cream topping was a perfect complement to the cheesecake. Coleen’s blog has some great family friendly recipes, and I have gotten many practical tips from her!
A final drizzle with the chocolate glaze and they are ready for a few hours of chilling in the fridge-if you can wait that long!
Dulce de Leche Mini Cheesecakes
_________(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes about 24 mini cheesecakes
1/2 cup crushed vanilla wafers or shortbread cookies**
1/2 cup finely chopped whole almonds**
2 Tbs melted butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp unflavored gelatin (about half an envelope of Knox brand)
1/4 cup whole milk
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dulce de leche
1/4 cup (heaping) chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 Tbs butter, cut into small pieces
1 Tbs light corn syrup
Whipped Cream Topping (from Coleen’s Recipes):
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix all crust ingredients. Press into baking cups (use 1-2 tsp crust mix per mini cheesecake). Place baking cups on a large baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 5 minutes. Cool.
**I use a food processor to chop the cookies and almonds
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 beat in dulce de leche thoroughly. Pour filling over crust in baking cups.
Place an empty broiler or roasting pan on the lowest oven rack. Pour 2 cups of boiling water into the empty pan.
Place baking sheet with cheesecake batter on the center rack in the oven. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, or until center is barely set. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Cook on high power for 20 seconds. Remove and stir well. Add 10 seconds, if necessary. Be careful not to scorch. You can also use a double boiler to melt ingredients together.
Place melted (but not hot) chocolate glaze into a freezer bag (good quality, so it doesn’t burst) or pastry bag with a fine tip. If using a freezer bag, cut a corner (or poke a bamboo skewer through the corner). Pipe a swirl of chocolate glaze over cooled cheesecakes.
Set aside remaining glaze. Prepare whipped cream topping. Pipe an additional swirl of chocolate glaze over the whipped cream.
Combine the cream cheese, sugar and extracts in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until very smooth (scraping sides often). While the mixer is running, slowly pour in heavy cream. Continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Place whipped cream mixture in a pastry bag with a large star tip. Pipe onto cheesecakes. Pipe an additional swirl of chocolate glaze over the whipped cream.
Chill cheesecakes in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. They will keep, refrigerated (even with the whipped cream frosting!) for several days.