Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Although the March Winds are blowing and the temperatures below freezing, we had several glorious days last week where it felt like spring and we could enjoy being outside in our shirtsleeves. So fleeting these delights!
Once I heard the forecast of possible 60 degrees, it took me about one minute to plan a socially distanced get together with two friends to bask in the sun and eat delicious food together while celebrating two of our birthdays. It took them about one second to say “yes!” Definitely needed by all! Usually, we celebrate with a three-hour dinner at a favorite restaurant, but since it would get a bit too cold to do this later in the day outside, and we are naturally still avoiding restaurants, we settled on a bright sunny lunch in my backyard under my massive sugar maple named Alice.
I fired up the grill and we enjoyed birthday lunch: smoked oysters, a little champagne, grilled romaine salad with herbed potatoes and green beans, and grilled salmon. Yummy!
One thing all three of us love is cheesecake, so I knew this would please all and serve as our birthday cake. But, with restrictions on both gluten and dairy, I had to come up with alternatives to many of the ingredients.
My mom made a delicious Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, and I’ve included that recipe at the end of the post. However, a dairy free version seemed a little daunting, not to mention the gluten-free aspect as well.
The gluten-free ended up being the easy part. I simply substituted chocolate gluten-free cookies for the chocolate wafers in the original cake. It came out just a tad softer than the original, but still delicious.
For the dairy, I began with the vegan cream cheese and added some full-fat coconut milk to round out the creaminess. The vegan sour cream was actually pretty good. Because I could not use actual Bailey’s in the recipe since it contains cream, I added Irish whiskey instead, along with a bit of both unsweetened cocoa and instant espresso powder. I left the eggs in the recipe, I just didn’t want to take out too many ingredients!
To top it all off? Chocolate ganache of course, and I found some Bailey’s Irish Cream baking chips to serve as the chocolate element. They are delicious, and taste remarkably like the original.
The verdict? The cake was creamy and delicious with a subtle flavor of Baileys and we all agreed we wanted it again! A lovely nod to my Irish roots on my Dad’s side of the family, and perfect for the holiday.
Irish Cream Birthday Cheesecake, Dairy Free
For the crust:
- 8 ounces of chocolate or vanilla wafer cookies, gluten free if needed
- 6 ounces melted butter
For the filling:
- 3 8-oz. pkgs. softened vegan cream cheese
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 ¼ cups white sugar
- ½ cup vegan sour cream
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla
- 1 “nip” bottle Irish whiskey
For the ganache:
- 6 ounces Bailey’s Irish cream baking chips
- 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
- 6 ounces full-fat coconut milk
Make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a *10-inch springform pan.
In a food processor, pulse the cookies until grainy. Add four ounces of melted butter. Pulse these together until combined, check the texture. If it looks right, press into the springform pan. If it is still too dry, add a bit more butter. Spread evenly over the bottom and up about a half-inch on the sides, then press down with a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup to firm it up. Bake for 15 minutes, remove, cool to room temperature.
Then the filling:
In a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, on low, or with a hand mixer, gently beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add coconut milk, sugar, sour cream, corn starch, cocoa, and coffee, and beat these together on low for about a minute to dissolve the sugar. You don’t want to beat extra air into this, so slow is the word.
Then add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and Irish whiskey. Blend just until combined, scrape the bottom of the bowl, and pour into the cooled crust.
Place in the middle rack of the oven, reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. and bake for one hour and 10 minutes or so. The middle of the cake should just jiggle a tiny bit, but the rest will be set.
Turn off the oven, and leave for an additional hour with the oven door closed, this often helps prevent cracking**. Remove and chill for at least four hours.
Make the ganache layer:
In a metal or glass bowl placed over simmering water, combine all ingredients and let melt, slowly stirring with a wooden spoon to smooth. You can also do this on medium in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time until melted.
Pour over the chilled cheesecake, and let set until cooled.
*If you use an 8-or 9-inch springform pan, your cheesecake layer will be thicker, so please cook an additional five to 10 minutes, or check to ensure it is set except for a tiny jiggle in the middle before turning off the heat.
**Cracking happens for a few reasons: most likely, the cake was over-baked, the filling was over whipped, or cooled too quickly, that is why you shut off the oven and let it set there for another hour.
If I pay attention to all of this and still get a crack or two, it’s about the last thing in the world I stress about, especially since it is usually covered up! So, don’t stress about it. As my mom said “You’ve got to break it to eat it!”
From the vintage recipe box:
Sylvia’s Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake
(use instructions above)
The crust: Mix together 8 ounces chocolate or vanilla wafer cookies and 6 ounces of melted butter, press in spring-form pan.
The Filling: Mix together: 2 8-oz. pkgs. softened cream cheese, 2 8-oz. pkgs. Mascarpone cheese, and 1 cup white sugar. Add ½ cup sour cream, 1 tbsp. cornstarch, then beat in three eggs and two egg yolks one at a time. Add 1 tbsp. vanilla extract and 1/3 cup Bailey’s.
The topping, microwave: Combine 6 ounces semi-sweet or white chocolate chips, 1 tbsp. light corn syrup, and 6 ounces heavy cream, or Bailey’s.
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