Sans Meal Plan: Cheesecake (with alcohol) for St. Paddy’s

Chocolate Bailey's Cheesecake? Yes, please!

This Saturday, March 17, is a momentous occasion in Ireland and America alike (though in few other places): the day we celebrate the Christianization of Ireland by Saint Patrick with copious amounts of green-dyed beer. Huzzah!

Lately, I’ve really wanted to make a cheesecake. Cheesecake is one of those desserts that seems really difficult to make, but is actually quite easy once you have a foundational recipe. But remember, not all cheesecakes are created equal. It seemed only fitting that this week I should test out my brand spankin’ new spring-form cake pans with a cheesecake. And due to the 100-year anniversary of Oreos, I wanted to incorporate the iconic cookie into my creation. To make this cheesecake even better, I threw in some cocoa powder (because chocolate only serves to make things better), made a dark chocolate ganache to pour on top, and added a whole lot of Bailey’s — after all, it is Saint Patrick’s Day!

Devastating waste of Oreo cream

I don’t know what it is about cheesecake, but for me, it always had this air of sophistication that seemed impossible to create on my own without some sort of extra special skill or equipment. An entire restaurant chain was created based on the pie-like cake — doesn’t that mean regular people can’t make it? WRONG! Once you have a foundational recipe consisting of cream cheese, egg and sugar, you can mix in other ingredients to add that little extra something-something and make it the dessert of your dreams.  Ricotta cheese, chocolate, raspberry, chocolate chips, Oreos, lemon, pumpkin and peanut butter are just some of the many wonderful things you can add to a cheesecake to make it your own. There’s an awesome website from Fine Cooking that lets you choose ingredients you’d like to include in your cheesecake, then spits back recipes with proportions for you to use. How cool is that?!

Fortunately, one of the blogs I read posted a great looking recipe for Bailey’s chocolate cheesecake that made me salivate just thinking about it, so I knew I needed to make it a reality. This recipe calls for an entire half-cup of Bailey’s, so the taste is rather strong, but not overwhelming. Due to the large amount of Bailey’s included, it may or may not be cheesecake’s answer to the Bloody Mary… and what’s better than cheesecake for breakfast? Alcoholic cheesecake after a night of frivolity! Thanks, Saint Patrick!

Snooki approves of this dessert.

Bailey’s Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe
(Adapted from Gimme Some Oven)

Ingredients:

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups Oreo crumbs
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Cheesecake Ingredients:

  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients (Optional):

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate

Method:

First, you’re going to make your own crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the cookie crumbs, powdered sugar and cocoa powder. To get crumbs, I un-stuff’d my Oreos, put them in a Ziploc bag and destressed by smashing a heavy object on them until pulverized… who needs yoga when you can just make pie crust? After your dry ingredients are mixed, add the melted butter (a microwave makes this easy) and combine until your crust is well mixed. Taste for quality. Taste again just to be sure. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and firmly press the mixture onto the bottom (and up the sides, if you want, but you’ll probably have to make more). Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes only and then remove your crust. Then, increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

While your crust is baking, combine your softened cream cheese, white sugar, cocoa powder and flour in a LARGE bowl (3 packages of cream cheese is a lot, people). Using an electric mixer, beat at medium speed until fully blended; this may take a while, as the addition of a dry and fine powder such as cocoa powder to a huge gob of cream cheese without any extra liquid gets messy.  Don’t be frustrated — just keep at it! You may need to stop periodically and scrap the sides of your bowl. Next, add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Finally, add the sour cream  (in my case, Greek yogurt) and Bailey’s and mix until fully blended. Somehow, your thick gob of cream cheese has transformed into a dreamy and liquidy chocolate pudding-mousse… pour this mixture over your crust. Make sure you leave a lot of this mixture on the sides of your bowl to lick clean.

Here’s a cool cheesecake trick that I learned from all of my virtual blogging friends: cheesecake tends to crack on the top, so create a simple water bath underneath your pan to help reduce this risk.  Simply put water in a 9×13 pan (about half full) and place it on the rack below your cake in the oven.  I still got one teeny crack in the final product, but I covered it with ganache, so no one knew in the slightest!

Bake your cheesecake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees, and continue baking for 60 minutes.

After your cake is done, let it cool down to room temperature, and then place in the refrigerator to chill before serving.

I decided to go the extra mile and cover my cheesecake in ganache (because why would you NOT want to cover something in ganache?). Ganche is one of those fancy words that makes people think it’s hard to make, but it could not be easier. Simply heat your dairy (cream, half and half, milk, etc.) until it is almost boiling (but not quite! You don’t want it to burn!) and then pour it over your chocolate (chips, chunks, pieces, anything but actual bars). The heat of the dairy will melt down the chocolate, so let it sit for 15-30 seconds and then stir together until fully combined. Pour over your cheesecake, dip some strawberries in it or eat with spoon — whatever feels appropriate in the moment.

I recommend sticking your cheesecake in the freezer for about 30 minutes after your ganache is applied so it can set a bit. Then, dig in and let any guilt leave the building, because this cheesecake is about to disappear embarrassingly fast!

Happy Saint Patrick’s day, indeed.

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