Right now, I’m sure you are hastily running around, trying to prepare for your holiday feast and family get-together. Plates? Check. Napkins? Check. Booze? Check. Dessert? Check.
But wait. I’m going to throw you a curveball. It’s called a Bailey’s Cheesecake with Peppermint crust and it’s going to rock your world. Or, at least, rock your Christmas table.
Imagine this: a minty crust made of Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Jo Jos. Soft, tangy layers of cream cheese, with just a hint of Bailey’s Irish Cream. Semisweet chocolate topping that breaks silently under your fork.
Have I rendered you in to a sweet cheesecake dream yet? I thought so.If you are still scrambling to prepare for your Christmas party, then you are in luck for I have found you the best Christmas Cheesecake. Not only can you make this ahead of time, but it is sight for sore eyes.
Once the skies darken and the days become colder, I crave Baileys which is a wonderful mild Irish liqueur. Traditionally, I put it in my coffee or hot cocoa, but I have a soft spot for Bailey’s flavored cheesecake. Once, I stole a bite of this infamous cheesecake at a local Sacramento bakery, and it was too rich for my taste. I am not a big fan of white chocolate and the poor cheesecake was dripping in white chocolate. The crust was mushy and the slice too big. Although it overwhelmed me, it still acted as a source of inspiration for this dessert.
I used my favorite cheesecake recipe as the base for this dessert, thanks to Mrs. Greenspan. This cheesecake is my favorite because it uses a mixture of sour cream and cream cheese. I prefer sour cream in my cheesecake because it’s tangy flavor adds a needed depth to this cake. Without it, the cheesecake tastes a tad bland but some people prefer heavy cream. To satisfy my Bailey’s craving, I added in 1/3 of cup of Baileys in to the cream cheese batter. Honestly, I wish I had added around ½ cup as I would’ve liked a stronger, more pronounced Baileys flavor. But if you only want a hint of Bailey’s, stick to 1/3 of a cup of Baileys, or even less.
My one complaint with this recipe is the crust. Oh, the crust. Why does it cause me so much trouble? It seemed ok after I prebaked it, but once I took the entire cheesecake out of the oven, I didn’t get a good feeling. And it seems that my instincts were right. After letting the cheesecake chill overnight, I tried to steal a small slice and the crust fell apart. How annoying!!! Either the candy cane cookies were a bad idea or I didn’t bake the crust long enough. I’m not sure but if you guys have any ideas, let me know. I will master this crust, once and for all!
Tossing my skinny jeans out the door, I didn’t think twice about adding a chocolate topping. Without it, the cheesecake is nice, but it’s not amazing. The chocolate topping brings out the Bailey’s liqueur and I enjoy the chocolate sauce’s hard texture, compared to the silky smooth cheesecake.
Christmas is all about enjoying the holiday and gathering around your family and appreciating your blessings. What better way to celebrate the holiday than with a seasonal Bailey’s Cheesecake? Your family members will love you. And if they don’t, I’d seriously think about dis-inviting them to next year’s festivities.
Adapted from: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 4 hours or overnight
For the crust:
● 1 3/4 cups chocolate peppermint cookie crumbs (I used Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Jo Jo’s)
● 3 tbsp. sugar
● Pinch of salt
● 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
● 2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
● 1 1/3 cups sugar
● 1/2 tsp. salt
● 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
● 4 large eggs, at room temperature
● 1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
● 1/3 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur
To make the crust:
Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.
Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn’t have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.
Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
To make the cheesecake:
Put a kettle of water on to boil.
Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream and Baileys.
Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.
Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.
Remove the sides of the springform pan—I use a hairdryer to do this (use the dryer to warm the sides of the pan and ever so slightly melt the edges of the cake)—and set the cake, still on the pan’s base, on a serving platter. The easiest way to cut cheesecake is to use a long, thin knife that has been run under hot water and lightly wiped. Keep warming the knife as you cut slices of the cake.
Storing: Wrapped well, the cake will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or for up to 2 months in the freezer. It’s best to defrost the still-wrapped cheesecake overnight in the refrigerator.