Mini Dulce de Leche Cheesecakes
I am not a baker; I have neither the patience nor the exacting standards to be a good baker. I am a cook; I like a pinch of this and a dash of that. Thus desert can be a challenge. In most cases I am quick to delegate the responsibility to a guest, my mother in-law or I opt for a not so creative solution like fresh fruit and ice cream. But occasionally I have to bake, so I have a few go to items that I can throw down. The mini cheesecake has been a one of my go to options since college, when I didn’t have a spring form pan to make big cheesecakes. I also like this option because it can be tweaked to match the situation and can be made in almost any flavor that is appropriate. I have made lots of versions over the years including: strawberry, white chocolate, peanut butter, dark chocolate and now dulce de leche flavored mini-cakes.
Part of why I am in love with mini cheesecakes is that years ago I learned that a small nilla wafer in the bottom of a cupcake wrapper makes a darn good crust. And to a non-baker eliminating the terrifying crust step of the process is a great thing. Thus began my desire to collect any and all flavors cheesecakes that I could convert into minis. Imagine my surprise when mini everything became popular, my go to desert was cool. I had a desert that tasted good, was pretty easy to make, travels well, and everyone liked. Recently, I decided to give dulce de leche a try because I love the flavor and the caramel is sweet enough for the rest of the family but not so over-powering that I don’t enjoy it. I looked at a handful of dulce de leche cheesecake recipes to find that they are almost all the same, whip up basic cheesecake batter, and glop in some premade dulce de leche with a bit of condensed milk and bake. Seriously why didn’t I do this before?
4 packages of cream cheese 8 oz., softened
24 Nilla wafers
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 can of dulce de leche caramel sauce (it’s in the Hispanic food isle or with ice cream toppings)
24 pecan halves
Fill each cupcake wrapper about three quarters of the way to the top with batter and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the cake is firm. In the over the cakes will rise and crack, once you put caramel on top no one will even notice the cracks. It is also normal for them to fall, that is just a cheesecake thing.
Remove from the oven and take the cakes out of the muffin tins, let them cool completely. Put the remaining dulce de leche into a small zip lock bag and snip off the corner, if the sauce is really tight warm slightly it in the microwave or by kneading the bag with your hands. Using your improvised piping bag draw decorations on the top of each cake, I also added a single salted pecan to each one.