This is not a cake. These are brownies. If you prefer, you can make them in muffin or mini-muffin tins to make cupcakes. You make these the night before they will be eaten, so you can cook the caramel at the same time
You will need:
A hand mixer or stand mixer (a hand mixer with both beaters and whips is ideal)
A 13×9 baking pan (I use metal)
Mixing bowls (glass, metal, or ceramic)
Measuring cups and spoons
A large, deep stock pot with lid (if making the dulce de leche caramel)
Dulce de Lupchansky Caramel Cheesecake Brownie Bars
For the Dulce de Leche Caramel:
1 (one) 10 oz (300 ml) tin sweetened condensed milk (no substitutions)
For the Brownie Layer:
6 tablespoons butter or margarine (or ¼ cup plus 2 tbsps)
6 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate (6 one-ounce squares, or weigh out chips)
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup light brown or yellow sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cheesecake Layer:
12 oz or 375g cream cheese, softened (1 ½ 8 oz packages)
¾ cup white sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Note: you can omit the cinnamon if you are allergic or really hate it, but the hint of cinnamon with the chocolate is indescribably delicious, so dont omit it just because you dont like cinnamon in other foods trust me, try it with chocolate, its different from what you imagine.
Pre-Step: Dulce de Leche Caramel: (you can make this at the same time, or many days in advance)
Fill your stock pot with water up to the handles. Read the label on the sweetened condensed milk where it says not to heat the unopened tin, and make an adult decision to ignore this warning. Remove the label and place the tin in the pot of water, and bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, with lid on but slightly askew to vent the steam, for 4 hours on the back burner of your stove. Check periodically to ensure that the water level remains high and covers the tin by several inches. After 4 hours, turn off heat, and remove the tin carefully with tongs or carefully dump the water and tin into an empty sink. Wearing oven mitts, pick up the tin and place in refrigerator to chill overnight. Beware of children and pets in the kitchen. I have never had a tin explode on me, ever, but there must be some reason there is a warning on the tin (if you do notice the tin showing any signs of expansion, immediately remove it from the heat and let it cool), and of course I would never leave a pot of water simmering unattended if I had children in the house or pets who like to jump on top of the stove. You can also find dulce de leche in jars in Latino or gourmet food stores (it also appears that Smuckers makes it, which you can view on their website).
Steps for the Bars:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F, and lightly butter the baking pan
To make the brownie layer:
2. In glass or ceramic bowl, melt the butter and chocolate on 50% power in the microwave, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds until melted (takes about 2 minutes total). Set aside to cool
3. In another small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside
4. In a large bowl, using your mixer on medium power, beat together the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until blended. Once blended, turn the mixer to low, and stir in the cooled chocolate mixture till smooth, and then add the flour mixture, blending till incorporated. Using your scraper/spatula, pour and spread the batter into the prepared pan.
At this point, clean your mixers beaters (or swap them for the whips), and clean the spatula if you only have one, as you will be using them again.
To make the cheesecake layer:
5. In another large bowl, beat the cream cheese till soft, then add the sugar and flour and mix on medium-high, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and mix gently. Carefully pour this mixture over the brownie layer and smooth so its fairly even. Bake in the oven (centre rack) for 50 minutes. The top may crack, but do not fret over this.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack, or directly in the refrigerator (if your shelves can withstand the heat of the pan). Once cool, cover the pan with plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, cut into bars, wiping off the knife with damp paper towels between cuts to minimize crumbs and mess. Remove the bars from the pan before applying the caramel or other toppings (this should be done on each individual bar for best presentation and its way less sticky this way!)
7. Open the cold tin of sweetened condensed milk (now lovely brown, thick dulce de leche caramel). Spoon it out into a bowl and stir to soften. Place in a plastic disposable piping bag (this is handy since you can close the top with an elastic band and take it with you if youre traveling with the bars, and then snip the end when its time to serve them). Squeeze the caramel onto the bars in a random, overlapping pattern (or whatever you like). If you dont have a piping bag, you can simply use 2 knives or 2 spoons to carefully spread dollops of caramel on each bar. Enjoy the compliments you will get from everyone who tries these.
Very bad for your body, but very good for your soul.