Friday, March 13, 2015

Chocolate Irish Cream Cheesecake

I get excited to cook with two ingredients around St. Patrick’s Day. No, they aren’t corned beef and cabbage. Traditional those may be, and I won’t knock them here, but this girl cooks with Guinness (or other stout brands) and Irish Cream liqueur. I’m not much of a drinker, so in order to enjoy those quality beverages, I put them in recipes.

I’ve already make some of this great beef stew with Guinness this week, and I’ve paid respect to Irish Cream by stirring some into these brownies. I continued with the winning chocolate and Irish Cream combination, however, with a deliciously creamy and deliciously delicious Chocolate Irish Cream cheesecake. Perhaps not the smartest thing that someone who’s trying to lose a few pounds could do, but I need to take my holidays seriously, even if they aren’t serious holidays.

This cheesecake is not especially chocolaty or especially Irish Cream-y (or boozy), but it is a nice, rich, creamy and decadent combination of the two flavors. I love the crunchy, slightly crumbly chocolate crust with this dense but smooth cheesecake filling, and the cocoa and liqueur keep it from being overly sweet. It’s extremely satisfying, and, in my opinion, needs no topping or accompaniment, except maybe a cup of coffee with another plug of Irish cream in it.

I must have made this cheesecake sometime in the ancient past, and I must have liked it because I kept the recipe. It needed some updating, however, and a bit of a Messy Apron touch, so another test was in order. I changed the crust to be just like the one for this Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake, since I knew that one works well (and tastes good). The filling recipe is similar enough in proportions to the Cranberry one, with the addition of some sour cream (and the liqueur), that I felt I could count on it. The baking procedure for this cheesecake, whose original source has been lost (I apologize), is quite different, though, which made me a little nervous. It involves baking the cheesecake in a hot oven (450 F) for 10 minutes, then lowering the temperature for the rest of baking.

Even though it seemed unusual, I baked this cheesecake that way anyway, and the results were very good. I’m not sure what that initial hot-temperature baking did for my dessert, if anything, but I have been very happy. Have been and will continue to be happy, since there are only two people in my house and a cheesecake really shouldn’t be divided into just two servings. Luckily, cheesecakes tend to hold well in the freezer – I like to wrap up individual slices and put them in freezer bags – so even if those pounds won’t be coming off just yet, maybe more won’t be piling on. Just yet.

Chocolate Irish Cream Cheesecake
Adapted from a few sources

For the crust:
8 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (such as Nabisco Famous brand)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 ½ ounces (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup Irish Cream liqueur (such as Bailey’s)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. To make the crust, place the chocolate wafer cookies in a food processor and process into fine crumbs. Add the 3 tablespoons sugar and pulse until well-combined. Pour in the melted butter and process until all of the crumbs are well-moistened and they start to come together into a mass.

2. Pour the crust mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Press the mixture firmly and evenly on the bottom of the pan and about 2-3 inches up the sides of the pan.

3. Bake at 375 for 9-12 minutes or until the crust appears firm and dry. Set aside on a cooling rack until ready to fill.

4. Preheat the oven to 450 F. To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, 1 ¼ cups sugar and cocoa powder In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer (or in another large bowl if you are using a hand mixer). Beat, using the paddle attachment, on medium speed until well-blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and the paddle and beat again until smooth.

5. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sour cream and Irish Cream and beat until very smooth.

6. Pour the filling over the baked crust. Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 F. Continue baking for 60-70 minutes or until the top of the filling appears dry and set and just wobbles a little when gently shaken.

7. Cool on a wire rack about 5 minutes. Slide a thin, sharp knife around the outside of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cool completely. Remove the ring from the springform pan. Chill the cheesecake at least 2 hours before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

One year ago: Chocolate Pudding

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