You know about the freshman 15, right? When you gain 15 lbs. during your freshman year of college because, all of a sudden, you have no idea what to eat, and live off of soft serve ice cream, french fries, and Lucky Charms. Well, that never happened to me, thankyouverymuch. I was able to bypass the freshman 15, only to have it haunt me later in the my college days.
Later meaning my study abroad semester. In Argentina. Because of dulce de leche.
At first, I thought of it as a special treat. But then I suddenly realized that I will never again live in a country where it is perfectly acceptable to eat a luscious caramel sauce with every meal, and I panicked. I started eating it all day, every day, because I could – in cookies, with toast, out of the jar with a spoon! And justified it by saying that it’s a milk product! With calcium! And vitamin D! It was practically health food!
25 pounds, people. In a single semester. I may have gone overboard. But, boy, it was worth every pound. And here we are again, taking something ridiculously decadent and adding even more deliciousness. Cheesecake with dulce de leche baked right in, with even more dulce de leche poured on top. This is basically my study abroad semester on a plate.
Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares (from Bon Appetit)
Do ahead: to make dulce de leche at home: pour two 14 oz. cans of sweetened condensed milk into a glass bowl and let it sit in a double boiler, over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until the color of the milk has turned a deep caramel color. This will take about 2 hours. You can also buy your dulce de leche from any store. It’s quite readily available. I clearly did not know this when I lived in Argentina.
- cooking spray
- 2 1/4 cups finely ground graham crackers
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup dulce de leche, recipe above
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup dulce de leche, recipe above
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- sea salt, for sprinkling