(One of the reasons I will remain single well into my 40's is that instead of going to something fun/social like the dance party at the Bedlam or Boyz II Men at the State Fair (ha ha), I stay home and bake.)
Tonight I was feeling like staying in, and while reading a book about a woman who quits her job and goes to Le Cordon Bleu for a year, I suddenly had a hankerin' for cheesecake. So I went to my latest favorite cooking blog, Smitten Kitchen, and found a recipe for Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares (or "Bars" as this Minnesota native will call them).
I had never made cheesecake before, and I wasn't sure if was one of those things like angel food cake that everyone thinks is such a nightmare, but it turns out it wasn't so bad. The only annoying part of this recipe was the making of the dulce de leche. I didn't have a double boiler, so I improvised with two pans, which seemed to work fine. The other thing I didn't have was patience, which is what made it annoying. But flipping back occasionally to look at the picture kept me motivated. Damn those bars look good.
One thing to note is that the cheesecake part might look like an earthquake about to explode before you take it out of the oven. I was worried that the whole dang thing was going to be lopsided, but as it turns out, once the cake cools, everything levels out. I also think I might have over-cooked it - the recipe says to bake it until "the center has just set"... uh, you know what? Now that I go back and read the recipe again, it says I was supposed to bake it in a hot water bath. Hm. Maybe that's why the edges are all brown. *sigh* Follow directions, Johnson.
Anyway, stupid mistakes aside, they turned out aesthetically beautiful, but not quite as tasty as I had hoped. For as much butter and sugar and bad-for-you ingredients as I added (even corn syrup - yikes!), you'd think they would have been tastier. But my assessment is that the cheesecake bit was kindof spongy and flavorless, and the graham cracker crust - which had been so crunchy and yummy at first - got soggy and gross. It's very possible that these shortcomings are all due to user error, I know, but nonetheless, I am disappointed that I won't be having cheesecake for breakfast.
I had never made graham cracker crust before - it is ridiculously easy, and definitely one of my favorite flavor combinations - graham crackers and butter. (Right up there with chocolate and peanut butter.) Additionally, the glaze on top was quite simple, and quite tasty. Maybe corn syrup isn't so bad after all. (Though I welcome any suggestions for more environmentally-sustainable & "healthy" substitutes.)
Also, for comedic effect, I am including a photo here of my photography strategy - the lighting in my kitchen sucks for nighttime food photos, so this is my solution until I get a fancier camera. I am a big nerd.