Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Guest with the Best (Dessert)

There's nothing like Summer to bring out the picnic-goer and bbq-lover in all of us. Since it's always wise not to arrive empty-handed, bring along one of these sinful desserts to really get the party going:

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars and Key Lime Coconut Bars.

I brought both to a recent cooking club and my health-conscious friends made 'all gone' like they were fat free cookies. Pretty impressive considering it's bikini season. 

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars:
Even if you don't think you like dulce de leche, give these a try. They're delightful and taste more like caramel.  And don't forget the sea salt at the very end. It brings out all the sweet flavors.

Key Lime Coconut Pie Bars:
Just as good and if not better than any key lime pie I've tried in my life. If you don't like coconut, just omit it from the recipe all together.

PC: Bon Appetit 2010, A Feathered Nest

Recipes after the jump:
Dulce de Leche Bars:
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 1/4 cups finely ground graham crackers (from about 17 whole graham crackers)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 8-ounce packages Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup purchased dulce de leche*
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup purchased dulce de leche
  • 3 tablespoons (or more) heavy whipping cream
  • Fleur de sel**


For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter; stir until coated. Transfer crumb mixture to pan. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake until crust is light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
For filling:
Blend cream cheese and sugar in processor until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, processing 3 to 5 seconds to blend between additions. Add dulce de leche and vanilla; process until blended, about 10 seconds. Spread batter evenly over cooled crust. Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 38 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.
For glaze:
Heat dulce de leche and 3 tablespoons cream in microwave-safe bowl in 10-second intervals until melted. Stir to blend, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if too thick to pour (amount of cream needed will depend on brand of dulce de leche). Pour glaze over cooled cheesecake; spread evenly. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour (glaze will not be firm). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill.
Cut cheesecake lengthwise into 4 strips, then crosswise into 6 strips, forming 24 bars. Sprinkle bars with fleur de sel.
* A thick, sweet sauce made from caramelized sugar in milk or from sweetened condensed milk; available at some supermarkets and specialty foods stores and at Latin markets.
** A type of sea salt; available at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

Key Lime Bars:
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
2 T. sugar
1/2 c. sweetened, flaked coconut
1/3 c. melted butter, melted

3 14 oz cans sweetened, condensed milk
1/2 c. sour cream
3/4 c. key lime juice (I used bottled key lime juice from the grocery store)
1 Tbsp. grated lime zest

Whipped cream and toasted coconut for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8 x 8 square baking pan with parchment paper, overlapping the paper over the sides to create handles for later.  Mix the crumbs, sugar, coconut, and butter in a bowl and press into the pan; bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove and cool slightly.

While crust is cooling, make the filling. In a bowl, add the remaining ingredients: sweetened, condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice, and lime zest.  Whisk to combine until smooth and creamy.  Pour on top of crust; bake for 8-10 minutes (my oven took around 14 minutes) until firm to touch but not browned at all.   Cool at room temperature, then chill completely.

Top with whipped cream and toasted coconut*
*to toast the coconut, line a baking sheet with parchment paper; spread a thin layer of sweetened, shredded coconut on top, and bake at 350 degrees for 5-6 minutes until it's lightly golden brown)

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