Dulce Dog Days of Summer
When Ju-boy and I got married five years ago we each brought four children into the mix. Every now and again, for the past five years, someone has asked us if we plan to have any children together. You know, a Yours, Mine and Ours kid. We thought long and hard (about 10 minutes), and decided the answer was no. We can barely take care of our geriatric dog, let alone a drooling, pooing, projectile vomiting, adorable combination of our DNA. At least that’s what we thought….
I survived a pulmonary embolism 7 1/2 years ago, and while I technically can have another baby, it’s not going to be fun (has it ever been fun?). But a short while ago the proverbial light bulb went off over our heads (note to self: buy more light bulbs) and we thought, why not adopt? I, myself, am adopted, why not pay it forward? Adoption seems to be the perfect answer for our Brady Bunch on speed. I have a few friends who have adopted children here in Israel, and the consensus is the younger the baby the more difficult it is to adopt. However, there are plenty of older children out there just waiting for a mommy and daddy to love him. That’s the tack we have chosen to take, and have settled upon the perfect child for our family. Do you want to see a picture of him?
It makes perfect sense. A certified dog trainer by trade, Dog-boy is a weekly visitor to our house, our own Mr. Clean. He keeps our chaotic mess at bay, and we always look forward to his Thursday afternoon visit. Didi, on the bus home from Afula will call and ask, “Has Dog-boy been there yet? Yay!” Shy-boy has his usual million and one questions for him, which Dog-boy patiently answers. Even Shovav the dog loves it when Thursday afternoon rolls around, because Dog-boy will bring his Belgian Shepherd, Cola, and the two will romp around the house and garden, while Dog-boy deals with all the house’s messy nooks and crannies. Dog-boy will whizz around the house, headphones on, listening to his Beavis Butthead music (you have to add your own heh-heh-hehs), the two dogs frolic in the garden, Shy-boy looks on in worship, such an idyll! It’s practically a Normal Rockwell painting. I should call a lawyer and get those adoption papers drawn up right away. Who says you can’t adopt a 29 year old man?
Dog-boy has one other talent. He’s one of my favorite taste-testers. Thursday afternoon, right before the cleaning supplies come out and the headphones get plugged in, I shove a plate of some experiment in front of Dog-boy and wait for his honest reaction. I am guaranteed a very favorable reaction if one of the ingredients is dulce de leche. Known in Hebrew as ריבת חלב, this stuff rivals Nutella as a favorite flavoring/spread in this house. Dog-boy loves the stuff. I could plunk down a plate of dulce de leche covered spinach patties and the boy would be licking his fingers afterwards. Then he would probably throw up. But that’s okay, he’s good at cleaning up after himself.
This past Shabbat we had one of my favorite vegetarian friends and her meat-eating family over for lunch, so I took pleasure in making a dairy meal, with some Dulce de Leche Cheesecake for dessert. There’s a piece still in the fridge with Dog-boy’s name on it, under lock and key. Thursday is coming soon…..
BTW, if you are in the market for a Dog Whisperer, I’m Dog-boy’s pimp. Let me know and I’ll put you in touch.
Dulce de Leche Cheesecake
- 1 sleeve petit beurre cookies (roughly 33 cookies)
- 100 grams butter (1/2 stick)
- 500 grams (1 pound) cream cheese (I use 9% Ski cheese)
- 4 eggs
- 1 packet (3 1/2 ounces, 85 grams) instant vanilla pudding
- 1/4 cup sugar (I used light brown)
- dash salt
- 1 tub (roughly 2 1/2 cups) dulce de leche (caramel or butterscotch spread)
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 F).
- Place the cookies in the food processor and grind to fine crumbs. Add the butter in chunks and whizz around until it’s all the texture of wet sand. Empty out into a prepared springform pan (25 centimeters diameter, 10 inch), press into a crust on the bottom and up the sides of the pan and set aside.
- Place the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix at low speed until just completely combined. You do not want this stuff whizzing around at light speed, you do not want to incorporate air into your cheesecake. This is not a light and fluffy cheesecake, it is dense and sinful.
- Pour the cheese mixture over the cookie crumb crust and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Use a timer and thank me later.
- When the timer rings after 10 minutes (you can thank me now), turn the heat down to 110 degrees C (225 F) and let the cheesecake hang out in the oven for another hour. Setting the timer is a good idea again.
- When the timer goes off after an hour, turn off the oven, but leave the cheesecake in there for at least another hour. You don’t need to set a timer, leaving it in there for longer (I’m talking hours, not days) won’t do it any damage. Then transfer to the fridge and let it hang out in there for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
I was going to serve this cheesecake with crushed sugared almonds on top, but you know how those last hours are before Shabbat. You start going headless chicken, running around to make sure the right lights are on, the wrongs lights are off, the plata is plugged in, the iron has been unplugged, and in all this chaos I forgot to grind the sugared almonds. They’re sitting there in my baking drawer, calling my name. “Miriyummy, Miriyummy, we’re in here…. we know you want to nosh on us… come into the light of the kitchen, Miriyummy…”