Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

I made this dulce de leche cheesecake for my daughter M’s 21st birthday. She loves cheesecake, so I was pretty sure she’d like this, and she did. It’s a great cake for cheesecake lovers. It turns out it’s also a great cake for turning non-cheesecake lovers (people who say “I don’t like cheesecake”) into cheesecake lovers (people who say “this is the most awesome cake in recorded history” — yes, these were the actual words). That makes me happy, because she is the most awesome daughter in recorded history, so I’m glad everyone liked her cake!

Dulce de leche is caramelized sweetened milk, and it is amazing. There is no way anyone can not adore it. You can buy it in jars at Latin American markets, or make your own. I used David L’s recipe. It both flavors the filling and serves as the light-colored accent on the caramel topping. I made it less dark than some dulce de leche I’ve seen, although it’s not quite as pale as it appears in my photo.

Some hints for perfect cheesecake :

  • For a smooth batter, the cream cheese needs to be very soft. Leave it out overnight, or put it in the microwave a few seconds at a time.
  • Keep the mixer on low-medium speed, to avoid incorporating too much air.
  • Scrape the bowl and paddle diligently. There’s nothing worse than noticing a lump of unincorporated cheese stuck to the bottom of the mixing bowl as you’re pouring the filling into the pan.
  • A Springform pan can allow water to seep into the crust when you bake the cake in a water bath, even if you protect the bottom with foil. A deep, straight-sided cake pan is better. Unmold it by inverting it onto a plate and then again onto a second plate. It might stick a tiny bit but this is a creamy cake so you can smooth it out with an offset spatula and no one will notice it if the cake has a topping. If it’s to be left bare, try lightly buttering the plate onto which you invert the cake, as well as the plastic you wrap it with.
  • Cool the cake completely at room temperature before refrigerating or freezing. Leaving it in the water bath helps it cool slowly and prevents cracking.
  • For clean cuts, dip the knife in hot water and dry it with a towel before cutting each slice.
  • For a completely gluten-free cake, make the crust with gluten-free graham wafers.

I’m sorry there are no photos of the sliced cake. It went too quickly.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

Yield: one 8-inch cake


  • Mix: 15 minutes
  • Bake: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cool: at least 2 hours
  • Chill: overnight
  • Unchill and top: about an hour
  • Chill: 2 hours or longer (optional)

Crust Ingredients:

  • 132 grams graham cracker crumbs
  • 44 grams sugar
  • 64 grams butter, melted

Filling Ingredients:

  • 54 grams heavy cream
  • 54 grams sour cream
  • 454 grams cream cheese, softened
  • 155 grams dulce de leche
  • 145 grams sugar
  • 30 grams melted butter
  • 11 grams (2 tablespoons) lemon juice
  • 6 grams (1 1/4 teaspoons) vanilla extract
  • 157 grams (3 large) eggs at room temperature

Topping Ingredients:

  • 100 grams sugar
  • 21 g (3 tablespoons) water
  • 119 grams heavy cream
  • 28 grams unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • about 100 grams dulce de leche
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons heavy cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 285F if you have a convection setting, or 325F for the regular bake setting. Start boiling water for the water bath.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 2-inch deep x 8-inch diameter cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.
  3. Mix the crust ingredients together well with your fingers. Press the crust into the pan and partway up the sides, to a thickness of 1/4 inch.
  4. In a small bowl, blend the cream and sour cream together.
  5. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and dulce de leche on medium-low speed until the mixture is free of lumps.
  6. Add the following ingredients is this order, mixing on medium-low speed until smooth after each addition and scraping the bowl frequently:
    • butter
    • sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla
    • eggs, one at a time
    • cream/sour cream mixture
  7. Pour the batter over the crust in the prepared pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
  8. Place the cake on a rimmed sheet pan and set it in the oven. Pour boiling water in the sheet pan to just below the rim.
  9. Bake until the cake has just a slight wobble in the center when nudged, about an hour and fifteen minutes. Check it after one hour.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool, still in its water bath, to room temperature.
  11. Run a knife around the edge to make sure it is free of the pan, then invert the cake onto a plate and again onto a second plate so that it is right-side-up.
  12. Cover the cake with plastic wrap directly on its surface, and chill overnight.
  13. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it unchill slightly while you prepare the topping. Keep the plastic wrap on during this time so any condensation forms on the plastic and not on the cake.
  14. In a medium saucepan, stir together the topping sugar and water over low heat to dissolved the sugar. Heat on medium-high without stirring, washing down the sides with a wet pastry brush occasionally, until the mixture turns an amber color.
  15. Stir in the cream, butter, and salt. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring from time to time, until the caramel is thick but not chewy (gauge the consistency by dripping a bit onto a metal spoon).
  16. Remove from the heat and pour into a metal bowl. Cool at room temperature until it is slightly warmer than body temperature; it should still be quite pourable at this point.
  17. While to caramel is cooling, warm the dulce de leche. Thin it with just enough cream to make it soft enough to drizzle smoothly with a spoon.
  18. Pour the caramel topping over the cake; use an offset spatula to spread it to the edges and let it drip down the sides. You may not use all of the caramel, depending on how thick you like your topping.
  19. To make the design, drizzle three thick stripes of the thinned dulce de leche across the top of the cake and lightly draw a knife perpendicularly to the stripes several times in alternating directions.
  20. Cover with a cake dome. For a firmer cake, chill for 2 – 6 hours before serving. It can also be served at room temperature.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    OMG Susan this is gorgeous. I do love cheesecake but I really don’t knead/need any … I don’t bake but maybe 2 a year … this really begs to be baked. Oh how I wish I could have just been a quest at her party. Happy Birthday to the daughter!

  2. says

    That looks brilliant! I don’t even like cheesecake, and I want to make one of these.

    Meanwhile, I like the idea of using a straight sided cake pan I’ve never had an occasion to use a spring-form when something didn’t go wrong.

  3. says

    Beautiful cheesecake! I will have to have my wife make this one for me! I do the bread and she does the sweets. Great job! Your daughter must have been happy with getting this amazing cake for her B-day!

  4. says

    simply gorgeous! :-)
    the white design stripes are made of dulce de leche and cream, arent’they? but does dulce de leche become so white with the cream?

  5. says

    This look great! I love using gluten free graham crackers for the base- just because it tastes good. I think I would be a little nervous about using a cake pan though, did it come out easily?

  6. says

    Dulce de leche is my favorite flavor of all, my Mom used to make it from condensed milk using the pressure cooker, so your cheesecake brought me tons of memories from my childhood in Brazil

    my husband states he doesn’t care for cheesecake – I am tempted to run a little “test drive” on him

    Happy Birthday to your daugther! 21 is such a great age, sweet like a dulce de leche cheesecake!

  7. says

    Susan, what a beautiful looking cheesecake you made. And with Dulche de Leche it must taste delicious. You have a happy daughter, turning 21 and getting this cheesecake from you.

    You know there’s a World Dulche de Leche Day on October 11.

  8. says

    Sweetie loves cheesecake so this one is a must make if even those who don’t love cheesecake loved it. Looks so pretty the way you decorated it, too Susan!

  9. ruthie says

    That is gorgeous. I was just musing on how a little back and forth can make such a delicate looking decoration on the top.

    I do have a question, though. Is it absolutely necessary to bake this in a water bath? I’ve never done that with my standard recipe which, aside from the dulce de leche, looks pretty much like yours. I have pans that make individual cheesecakes, and they have the push up bottoms, so they really would take on water in a water bath. I’d really like to try this recipe, so is the water bath essential?


  10. says

    Ruthie, the water bath helps cheesecake bake more gently and evenly. I haven’t made this one without a water bath, but if you try, let me know how it goes!

  11. Kristiina says


    I made this yesterday and it tasted great but I had so much filling left over. Is it possible that it was meant for a 9″ pan?


  12. says

    Kristina, I used an 8-inch pan that is 2 inches deep. Probably your pan was shallower than this. I apologize for not making that clearer, and have edited my post.

  13. Simone Schadenbauer says

    I absolutely love the decoration of this cake! I suggest though that you cut down on the sugar in the crust and filling. For my taste the cheesecake was weigh too sweet!

  14. Johanna says

    My husbamd loves ‘dulce-de-leche’ made the southern way. We put an UNopened cane of sweetened condensed milk in the pressure cooker for about 45 minutes with water about half way up the can. And viola- wonderful.

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