Driftwood columnist Paul McElroy won the Harbour House Perpetual Trophy for Best Dessert at this year’s Salt Spring Fall Fair for his Dulce De Leche Cheesecake. He has graciously provided the recipe for publication, below. As well, recipes from four other baking and preserves category winners are included in the Driftwood’s Harvest Time publication, inside the print edition of this paper.
First, make your dulce de leche. You can occasionally find it ready-made in the shops, but it’s super easy to make your own.
All you need is a can of sweetened condensed milk. Peel the label off, put it into a large saucepan of room-temperature water at least two inches over the can, bring to a boil and boil for three hours, topping it up with boiling water every 30 minutes or so.
(Avoid the pull ring cans, they can leak during the boiling and spill everything.)
Lift can with tongs from boiling water and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before opening. Do not attempt to open the can while still hot; the pressurized hot caramel can spray dangerously.
The dulce de leche can be made weeks ahead, just keep it unopened in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
12 graham crackers
1 ½ c. granulated sugar, divided
¼ tsp. kosher salt
5 Tbsp. (72 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the pan
4 225-g packages cream cheese, at room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
½ c. sour cream
½ c. prepared dulce de leche
Preheat oven to 350°F.
It’s important that the cheesecake cooks slowly and evenly. You don’t want it to rise and crack.
Wrap three layers of aluminum foil around the outside of a 9-inch springform cake tin with 3-inch-high sides. Try to get the wide rolls of foil, it makes the job so much easier!
Grease the tin with butter. I also cut a circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of the tin. The cake will lift from the base of the tin much more easily when it’s cooked.
Combine graham crackers, ¼ c. sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Add melted butter, and pulse until moistened. Press the crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1 ½ inches up sides of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven just until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely in the fridge while you prepare the filling. Turn the oven temperature down to 325°F.
In an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Don’t beat it for too long. Add vanilla and remaining 1 1/4 c. sugar and beat until combined.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined after each addition. Add sour cream, and beat until smooth, about 35 seconds.
Take out one cup of the filling and put it into a separate medium bowl. Add the dulce de leche to the filling in the bowl and whisk until the dulce de leche is fully incorporated, making sure there are no lumps of the caramel. Pour the plain cheesecake filling into the cooled crust. Drizzle dulce de leche filling over top and using a knife or chopstick, swirl to create a marbled effect. Don’t just plonk the dulce de leche on top of the main filling, squiggle it with a pointed spoon onto the white filling before pulling the knife or chopstick through it.
Now carefully place the cheesecake in a large baking pan and add hot water to the pan to come about an inch up the side of the springform pan. Bake until almost set (the centre will move slightly when the pan is gently shaken) but not puffed, about 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on your oven. The last 20 minutes or so are critical: leave it too long and the cheesecake will brown on top, and you’ll lose the lovely marble effect. It will still taste wonderful, but not look as beautiful.
Let the cheesecake cool at room temperature for two hours. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate, still in the tin, until completely cooled, at least six hours or preferably overnight.