With St. Patrick’s Day coming up the time seems right to share a great desert fitting the occasion. My inclination is usually to share traditional Irish recipes though something fun and whimsical fits the holiday as well. Last year Leprechaun Tracks Ice Cream was a great surprise along with the annual upheaval caused by the Leprechaun who visits our house. Chairs stacked high, glittery shamrock stickers branding anything and everything, clothes dragged and piled willy nilly and drawers emptied as if a bear scoured the house looking for food. I finally had to write the leprechaun a pleading note to stop coloring our toilet water green after replacing the toilet seats permanently stained with mischievous green reminders after each St. Patrick’s Day. I think my children were crestfallen with my practicality and fortunately the leprechaun abided.
This St. Patrick’s Day I’m putting shenanigans aside and am serving up a seriously delicious Irish Whiskey and Baileys Cheesecake. It is not overly boozy but delivers the telltale flavors of whisky and luscious Bailey’s Irish Cream. The most irresistible part of the cheesecake is definitely the texture. Not heavy and dense like a New York cheesecake, this filling is silky smooth and downright heavenly.
There are a few secrets to making a fantastic cheesecake. Since cheesecake has essentially a custard filling, baking in a water bath allows it to be protected from the direct heat along with moisture from the water ensuring it won’t crack while it bakes. Additionally allowing it cool slowly, first by leaving it in the oven with the temperature off then at room temperature before chilling keeps the consistency creamy. Cheesecakes should not be over baked and though after the requisite baking time the cheesecake will still look jiggly, the cake continues to firm up as it cools and solidifies after chilling.
Having all the ingredients at room temperature when preparing the filling is key especially for the cream cheese. I both bring the cream cheese to room temperature and place it in the microwave using the ‘soften’ feature. If the cream cheese is not fully warmed it will form lumps in the filling which are impossible to beat out. Beating the filling too much introduces air which will bubble out of the cake when baking. Neither of these is a disaster if it happens but a few precautionary steps go a long way to create a flawlessly smooth filling characteristic of a glorious cheesecake.
Irish Whiskey and Baileys Cheesecake
Ingredients for the Crust:
- 2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs (I used Kinnikinnick S’moreables processed through a food processer)
- 2 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
- 5 ½ tablespoons melted Unsalted Butter
Ingredients for the Cheesecake filling:
- 2 8- ounce packages Cream Cheese , room temperature and softened
- 3 Eggs , room temperature
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 cups Sour Cream , room temperature
- 3 ounces Baileys Irish Cream
- 1 ounce Irish whiskey
- 2 tablespoons strong Coffee , cooled to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Chocolate Curl Topping:
- 1 3.5- ounce Milk Chocolate bar
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Apply three pieces of foil large enough to fully cover the bottom and outside of a 9-inch springform pan; apply firmly to the outside of the pan to prevent water seeping into the pan during the water bath baking. Grease the inside of the pan with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
Instructions for the crust:
- In a mixing bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and granulated sugar. Stir together; the mixture should be similar to wet sand in texture.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Using fingers followed by a flat bottom glass, press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.
Instructions for the filling:
- Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until smooth (do not overmix). Mix in eggs one at a time until blended in.
- Gradually add the sugar, beating at medium speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- Add the sour cream, Baileys, Irish whiskey, coffee and vanilla extract at slow speed to integrate with the cream cheese mixture; increase speed to medium for another minute. The mixture should be silky and smooth.
- Spoon the filling into the prepared crust. Place the cheesecake in a roasting pan and fill pan with boiling water until halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake for 50 minutes; the cheesecake will still be jiggly but will continue to firm up.
- Turn off the oven, leave the door closed and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and remove the foil. Gently run a knife around the outside of the cheesecake to allow it to easily separate from the pan as it cools. Place on a cooling rack until it reaches room temperature; 1-2 hours.
- Prepare a piece of foil to loosely cover the cheesecake. Poke a few holes in it with a knife or bamboo skewer; this will allow any remaining condensation from the chilling to escape and not drip back onto the cheesecake. Chill for at least four hours and preferably overnight. Run a knife around the outside of the cake before loosening the springform pan sides and gently removing the outer ring.
- To prepare the chocolate curl topping: Using a vegetable peeler, applying medium pressure run the peeler down the length of the chocolate bar to form curls. Heap the chocolate curls in the middle top of the cheesecake.
- To cut cheesecake: Fill a tall glass or jar with hot water. Run a long knife under hot water and wipe dry. Slice the cheesecake dipping the knife in the hot water and drying it in between cuts.