Rich fudgy brownies meet creamy cheesecake and sweet dulce de leche in these Dulce De Leche Cream Cheese Brownies. This recipe combines a few simple ingredients for seriously indulgent results. Recipe includes a how-to video!
The Brownie/Cheesecake Mashup of Your Dreams
If your new year’s resolution includes eating less sweets, you might want to hit the back button…
Okay, now that they’re gone, let’s talk about today’s decadent dessert: dulce de leche cream cheese brownies! This recipe combines my rich and fudgy cheesecake brownies and dulce de leche (which you might remember from my alfajores recipe) to make a unique, irresistible, and oh-so flavorful mashup.
The brownie layer is intensely chocolatey, the cheesecake layer is creamy and smooth (and not too sweet), and the dulce de leche adds a perfect, caramel-esque touch. I mean, do you see those swirled tops? They’re practically begging to be bitten into.
Let’s get started!
What You Need
Making several layers means there are a few steps involved in this recipe, but don’t worry–the ingredients are super simple. Here’s what you need:
- Butter. As always, I recommend using unsalted butter in these dulce de leche cream cheese brownies . You can read my post about using unsalted vs. salted butter to learn why!
- Chocolate. For the best taste, I like to use a chopped semisweet baking bar. However, you could substitute semisweet chocolate chips if that’s what you have on hand!
- Cocoa. I recommend using regular unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Sugar. I use both granulated and light brown sugar in my brownies. While many recipes use just granulated sugar, I like to add brown sugar for flavor, texture, and moisture. It helps make these brownies the *best*!
- Eggs. You’ll need four eggs total for this recipe; two of which will go in each layer. For the cheesecake layer, make sure to be very gentle with your eggs, or you may end up with cracks!
- Flour. All-purpose flour will work just fine in this recipe.
- Cream cheese. You’ll need two blocks of softened, full-fat cream cheese–do not substitute the tub-style cream cheese!
- Sour cream. Sour cream adds richness and a subtle tang to the cheesecake layer of these brownies. This can be substituted for full-fat plain Greek yogurt, or if you’re really in a pinch, you can leave it out entirely.
- Dulce de leche. While you could always use store-bought, I highly recommend using my recipe for homemade dulce de leche (it’s so easy and all you need is a can of sweetened condensed milk!).
SAM’S TIP: You can also add a pinch of instant coffee in the batter; this helps deepen the rich chocolate flavor of the brownies!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Dulce De Leche Cream Cheese Brownies
- Make the brownie base: Heat chocolate and butter together in the microwave until melted and smooth.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Reserve a small portion of the batter (for swirling on top) then spread the rest into a baking pan and bake for 15 minutes.
- Make the cheesecake layer: While brownies baking, stir together the ingredients for the cream cheese topping (do not over-mix!).
- Assemble: After 15 minutes, the brownies won’t be finished baking but they will be ready for the cheesecake layer. Carefully remove from the oven and pour the cheesecake layer evenly over the surface, then swirl dulce de leche and brownie batter over the surface and bake until cheesecake is set.
SAM’S TIP: Add the eggs to the cheesecake layer one at a time, and mix gently after each addition. Mixing too much or too vigorously could cause your cheesecake layer to have a mealy/eggy texture, or the surface could even crack, so use care!
Frequently Asked Questions
Store-bought dulce de leche will work fine, but your mileage may vary with store-bought brownie mix. Different brownie mixes bake differently and in different sized pans so I can’t say with certainty how it will work, but if you try it, please let me know how it works for you and what brand you tried!
Yes! Since the cream cheese layer is essentially cheesecake, it needs to be refrigerated. It can sit out for 1-2 hours at room temperature at most.
No! Where caramel gets its flavor and color from caramelized sugar, dulce de leche gets its nutty flavor and beautiful golden color from a chemical reaction in the milk called the Maillard reaction. With the addition of butter and cream, caramel sauce is more similar to dulce de leche, but it’s still not quite the same thing.
Caramel sauce should work as a substitute for the dulce de leche if you’d like, but since it’s often thinner your swirls may not be as thick or as pretty.
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Dulce De Leche Cream Cheese Brownies
- 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 12 pieces (170g)
- 4 oz semisweet baking bar coarsely chopped (or ⅔ cup chocolate chips) (113g)
- ½ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (50g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar (100g)
- 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (125g)
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a 9×9” (23x23cm) square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine butter and chocolate and heat in 25-second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate and butter are completely melted and mixture is smooth.
- Add cocoa powder and sugars and stir until completely combined.
- Stir in eggs, vanilla extract, and table salt. Whisk very well so the eggs are very well incorporated, I usually whisk vigorously by hand for 15-30 seconds.
- Sprinkle flour over the surface of the brownie batter and stir until completely combined.
- Measure out approximately ¼ cup of brownie batter and set aside. Pour remaining batter into prepared baking pan and transfer to 350F (175C) oven and bake for 15 minutes/until the surface of the brownies is just beginning to be set. Meanwhile, prepare your cheesecake layer.
For Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Layer
- Combine softened cream cheese and granulated sugar in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat together until smooth and creamy.
- Stir in sour cream and then add eggs, one at a time, stirring until just combined after each addition (over-beating the eggs can result in a cracked and curdled cheesecake layer).
- Stir in vanilla extract.
- Once brownies have baked for 15 minutes, carefully remove from oven (do not turn off oven!) and carefully and evenly pour cheesecake layer over the surface (pour carefully and drizzle it slowly and evenly over the surface of the brownies rather than just piling it in the center, which could cause the underbaked brownies to have a crater in the center of the pan!).
- If your reserved brownie batter has begun to become firm, vigorously stir it or heat in the microwave for 5-10 seconds until smooth and easy to stir. Dollop brownie batter evenly over the surface of the cheesecake and then dollop/drizzle dulce de leche over the surface as well.
- Use a knife to gently swirl the brownie batter and dulce de leche over the cheesecake so you have pretty swirls and ripples.
- Return to 350F (175C) oven and continue to bake for 25-28 minutes or until cheesecake is set or center is only slightly jiggly. Edges may be beginning to turn a light golden brown and may be slightly puffed when finished baking.
- Remove bars from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating for at least 3-4 hours before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
StoringStore in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.