St. Patrick’s Day is this Monday, so we’re tipping our Irish hats to my family’s heritage for a change this week. Fortunately, Tony loves both of the recipes we’re sharing today, so I won’t be losing my Italian-by-marriage credentials anytime soon.
This week’s featured recipe is Baileys Irish Cream Cheesecake which, for Tony, equals happiness. We’ve offered this dessert at Sarello’s many times throughout the years, and the recipe is always requested whenever we do. In fact, it’s so good there’s hardly room for improvement, but I think I’ve found a way to make it even better.
Try making it with your very own, homemade Irish cream liqueur, which is surprisingly easy to create and even better than the original version. We’ve included this recipe as a special bonus, just for all you lads and lasses out there (over 21, of course). This is a foolproof endeavor as you can control the flavor by adjusting the amount of Irish whiskey and other ingredients according to your taste.
Many people find the prospect of making a cheesecake from scratch a bit intimidating. I’ll admit – I’ve had that same perception, so I turned to the talented Ben Walker, our Sous Chef at Sarello’s, who just happens to be a master of cheesecake.
Chef Ben gave me some great advice to ensure that my cheesecake turned out as good as the ones he makes for our guests. He began by stressing the importance of having all of the ingredients at room temperature before starting, as this step nearly guarantees that the right consistency is achieved when mixed together.
Use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer to combine the sugar and cream cheese until creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. The texture should be light and smooth, so if you taste it and find that it’s grainy, gritty or lumpy, keep mixing. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix until just incorporated; Chef Ben cautioned against over-mixing the batter at this stage, which can alter the final texture of the cake.
Once all of the ingredients have been mixed together, firmly tap the bottom of the mixing bowl against the counter several times to remove any air bubbles, which helps to prevent the cake from cracking.
Next, Chef Ben recommended using a springform pan to prevent leaks and provide easy access to the cake. For easy removal, lightly coat the bottom of the pan with cooking spray, followed by a liner of parchment paper.
And finally, to fully ensure that the cheesecake is evenly cooked throughout, it must be baked in a water bath. People tend to recoil when they hear that, thinking this technique signals that the recipe is beyond their skill set. I used to be guilty of this, too. But, really, all it means is preparing a pan of water to set the cake pan in before it goes into the oven. It’s that simple, and makes a world of difference in the result.
To prevent any water from creeping inside the cake pan, Chef Ben suggested lining the outside with aluminum foil. Once the cake is baked, allow it to cool for about 30 minutes and then refrigerate until ready to serve, up to four days.
See? Cheesecake made simple, and delicious. The Irish cream liqueur is even easier to make and we won’t tell anyone if you sip as you bake. May the luck of the Irish be with you (and Chef Ben) always!
Do you have any favorite St. Patrick’s Day food traditions?
Let us know what you love about this fun holiday in the Comments section!
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