Dulce Maria Cuban-Style Cheesecake

Take New York style cheesecake, and swap the basics for Latin flavor. Instead of a graham crust, we use Maria cookies, a digestive-style cracker that you can get (super cheap) in the Latin foods aisle. Swirl the batter with dulce de leche, then top with a drizzle of it, too, to make it even richer.

You'll need:

  • 1 sleeve (6 oz) Maria cookies
  • 4 Tbs butter, melted
  • 3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp Mexican vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 can (14 oz) dulce de leche

Grease an 8-inch (small) springform pan and layer a sheet of parchment on the bottom, then grease it again. Wrap the bottom with aluminum foil outside the pan, to make sure the waterbath doesn't seep in.

Take a pan large enough for the springform pan to fit in - I use a sheet-size cake pan just for this - and fill it with about a half inch of water. Place it in the oven and preheat the oven to 350.

Empty the pack of Maria cookies into a food processor and grind it until fine. Marias are crisp Spanish tea cookies - like vanilla wafers but richer - and you can find them in the Latin aisle at the grocery store.

Add the melted butter to the food processor, and mix well. Dump the whole thing into the pan and press along the bottom.

Put the three bricks of cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low until they're broken up, then turn to medium and let beat about two minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating about 2 more minutes until fluffy, scraping down the sides with a knife if some of it is stuck.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing just until each is blended, and at this point you want to be careful not to overmix the batter - this will get too much oxygen into it and it'll crack when it cooks. Add the cream, vanilla, and salt, and mix until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the springform pan.

Open your can of dulce de leche. (I make my own - take a can of condensed milk and boil it in a large pot, making sure it's always submerged, for about an hour. You can make it months in advance and just keep it on hand.) I use a small cookie scoop and spoon about 3/4 of the can in different places in the batter. Then take a knife and lightly swirl back and forth through the whole cake, then in the other direction, being careful not to touch the crust on the bottom. The dulce de leche will be totally submerged. Set the rest of the can aside for after it's cooked, to garnish.

Put the pan in the waterbath and cook 50 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave it in there another 60 minutes, without opening the oven door.

Remove from the oven and cool, then put it in the fridge overnight. Remove the cake from the pan and drizzle or pipe the remaining dulce de leche over it (I warm it a little first). Keep refrigerated until ready to serve!