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High Country Baking: Make a Bailey’s Irish Cream-spiked cheesecake for St. Patrick’s Day

By Vera Dawson
Special to the Daily
Be sure to properly bake and cool the cheesecakes to avoid cracks in the top. If you do get some, cover them with chocolate.
Vera Dawson | Special to the Daily

High altitudes make cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful. 

Looking for a St. Patrick’s Day dessert? You can’t go wrong with individual servings of velvety cheesecake topped by chocolate ganache, both heavily spiked with Bailey’s Irish creme. You make them ahead, leaving you free to raise a glass to the Emerald Isle with your friends and family on the night they’re served. They’re good enough to end dinner any day of the year, so don’t limit them to March 17.

The lush filling is what makes a cheesecake memorable, so this recipe eliminates a crust (I guarantee, nobody will miss it) and bakes a sweetened cream cheese batter, lightened by an egg and flavored by Irish creme liqueur, in ramekins. Once topped with chocolate, the result is so rich that I recommend small, 4-ounce servings. Crisp cookies, like the chocolate-dipped shortbreads in the photo, provide a nice contrast to the creamy filling, though the dessert doesn’t require an accompaniment.

Cheesecakes have a tendency to develop cracks if overbaked or cooled too quickly. A little cornstarch to stabilize the batter, a pan of water in the oven to add humidity and a gradual cool-down should prevent that from happening. But, if cracks occur, just cover them up with the chocolate topping. 

The taste of the liqueur is more prominent if the cheesecakes have two days in the fridge, but they’re still good when served only a day after baking. 

Irish Cream Cheesecake Cups

Make in four 4-ounce ovenproof ramekins

Works at any elevation

Cheesecake

8 ounces whole-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

¼ cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s

1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish creme liqueur

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg, room temperature 

Topping

2 ounces semisweet chocolate

3 ½ tablespoons heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur

Raspberries, optional 

Mint or parsley leaves, optional

1. Place a roasting pan filled with at least an inch of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven, preheat it to 325 degrees, with a second rack in the center position. Generously grease the ramekins with a baking spray that contains flour.

2. Check to make sure the cream cheese and egg are at room temperature; this is critical to the filling’s smooth texture. Cut the cream cheese into ½-inch cubes and, using an electric mixer at low-medium speed (don’t go above this speed, you don’t want air bubbles in the filling) or with quick pulses in a food processor, combine it with the sugar and cornstarch. Stop as soon as the mixture is completely smooth and lump-free, don’t overmix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the Irish cream and vanilla and beat/pulse until blended. Add the egg, mixing only until smooth and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour the filling into the prepared ramekins, filling them no more than ½-inch from the top. Tap the ramekins on the counter to release any air bubbles.

3. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake until the edges of the filling are set and puff a little but the centers still jiggles slightly when you gently shake them, about 15-20 minutes. Don’t overbake. Turn off the oven, open the door, and leave the ramekins in the open oven for about half an hour. Remove them to a rack to cool completely, and then refrigerate them, lightly covered, 24-48 hours. Expect them to deflate as they cool.

5. Make the topping: Top the cheesecakes a few hours before you serve them. Finely chop the chocolate and set it aside. Heat the cream, either in a microwave oven or on the stovetop, until almost boiling, remove it from the heat, add the chocolate, making sure all of it is submerged in the cream, and set it aside for several minutes while the chocolate melts. Gently stir (avoid making air bubbles) until the chocolate is completely melted, add the Irish Cream and stir again until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Let it rest a few minutes until it thickens but is still pourable. Remove the cheesecakes from the ‘fridge and pour a level tablespoon of the chocolate mixture over the center of each cheesecake. You can either spread a thin layer over the whole top or leave a rim of filling showing.  Refrigerate the cheesecakes until serving time. Top each one with a raspberry and two mint or parsley leaves just before serving (optional). 

This recipe is a variation of one published on the My Baking Addiction blog.

Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards, Next Page Bookstore in Frisco and Breck Books in Breckenridge). She became a full-time Frisco resident in 1991 and has been developing and adjusting recipes so that they work at our altitude ever since. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com


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