The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
I always talk about one of my common indulgences during the week: coffee with Bailey’s Irish creme. So I thought, why not put those lovely flavors in a cheesecake? After all, the Daring Bakers Challenge this month calls for playing with a basic cheesecake recipe.
For those of you not familiar with the Daring Bakers, it’s a group whose members undertake monthly baking challenges. :) I was crazy enough to join. Haha. It is so much fun. Last month was my first time and I had an initiation by fire with the spinach lasagna. This month is a sweeter challenge. Yumm…cheesecake!
I’ve made many cheesecakes before because it’s been requested so many times. My “signature” cheesecake was a no-bake one that is light and not anywhere as decadent as your average cheesecake. So it’s nice to go for something different. I took the good things from my old cheesecake and used that for this month’s recipe–lemon juice and zest in the crust and my foil-wrapping technique that makes cooking and cleaning with the springform pan much easier.
Admittedly, although I knew what flavors to incorporate in my cheesecake, I wasn’t quite sure how until I was making it. And I’ve had a few Uh-Oh (not A-Ha!) moments. I separated the cheesecake batter into 3 parts for the 3 flavors: coffee, dark chocolate and Bailey’s. They tasted right individually, however I ended up with 3 liquids with different viscosities, with the coffee liquid as the least viscous — and I want that the most dominant flavor because I want it to be mainly coffee cheesecake. Hmm. I guess I should have thought of that when separating the batter because the most dominant liquid I had was Bailey’s. Not that I’m complaining, Gimme more, I say.
In the end, I just poured the liquids from the most, to the least, thick. I wasn’t ecstatic about the top:
Before I combined all the liquid mixtures, I saw that the coffee batter was too thin so I added an additional egg. Haha. Bad move…look at that top!!! The dark spots were from the cocoa powder that I thought to add at the very end. Yet another Uh-Oh moment. I should not have added it directly to the mixture.
But then here comes the A-Ha! moment: The Taste and texture! The cheesecake was a nice, smooth indulgent bite that melts into a comforting silk mousse of coffee, chocolate and my favorite Irish creme. Wow.
And three taste testers agree! :-)
I still need to work on my viscosity issues, but this is a winning cheesecake overall. My cake-top problem could easily be ‘fixed’ with a dusting of cocoa.
Now I can relax again until the next challenge. But for now, here’s the recipe:
Bailey’s Café Mocha Cheesecake
For the crust
- 2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
- 1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
- 2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp lime or lemon zest
For the cheesecake
- 3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
- 1 cup / 210 g sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream, separated
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 4 tbsp of strong coffee (or use 2 tbsp espresso, let your taste buds be your guide)
- 3 tbsp Bailey’s Irish crème liquor
- 100 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Line the bottom of your spring form pan with aluminum foil inside and out. I find that this keeps the water from the water bath out. But if you really want to make sure you don’t get soggy crust, get the aluminum foil pan from the supermarket.
3. Start boiling a large pot of water on the stove. You can do this later if you have a hot water pot that boils in a few minutes.
4. Blend the crust ingredients in a small bowl. Set 1 cup aside and pour the rest into your lined spring form pan. Spread and press firmly on the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula, it makes the process much easier. After packing the bottom crust, pour the last cup of mixture around the sides of the pan. Just sprinkle it evenly to the sides and press with the spatula against the corner and up the side of the pan. The height of the side crust you are going for is 1 ½ inch from the bottom of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge before you proceed.
5. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, mix cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure you wipe the sides and fully incorporate each before adding the next one. Blend in heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish crème until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
6. Get 2 medium bowls and pour 2 cups of the cheesecake mixture into each, so you will end up with 3 bowls of mixtures for the 3 flavors: coffee (2 cups), chocolate (2 cups), and Bailey’s (the rest).
- Bailey’s batter: In your original large bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of Bailey’s into the mixture.
- Coffee batter: Dissolve cocoa in the coffee or espresso and pour into one of the bowls with 2 cups of cheesecake batter. Mix with a wooden spoon or use your hand mixer. If you are using 4 tablespoons of coffee, mix an extra large egg into this liquid, as you will notice that it will become very liquid.
- Chocolate batter: Put chocolate chips or chunks and 2 tablespoons heavy cream in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave for 20-second increments, stirring in between zaps until you have a melted and shiny chocolate. Cool a bit and get your hand mixer ready. Drop by the spoonfuls into the other bowl with 2 cups of cheesecake batter, and mix immediately or the chocolate might harden.
7. Pour batter the chocolate batter first into the cooled pan with crust, then the Bailey’s batter, and the coffee batter last. The order of the batter is from thickest to thinnest consistency of the liquid, but you can certainly interchange the sequence and experiment on your own. Tap the pan before adding each additional ‘layer’ to prevent air bubbles in your cake. I just poured it into the middle of the pan. You can swirl and shake as you wish to create different patterns.
8. Place pan in the center a bigger pan. To create a bath, pour boiling water into the larger pan until the water depth is halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.
9. Bake the cheesecake in the bath in the center of the pre-heated oven for 45 to 55 minutes. Wait until the outer portion of the cake is a bit firm but there is still a lot of jiggle in the center. You can just shake the bigger pan a little bit to test. Once you get this consistency, turn off the heat but keep the cake in the oven with the door closed. This slow cooling down process prevents cracks on the surface of your cheesecake and creates an evenly smooth consistency.
10. Carefully remove the bath and cake pan from the oven, take the cheesecake pan out and remove the outer foil cover and pat the outside dry. Leave on your counter to cool completely before covering with foil and chilling in the fridge, overnight if possible.
11. Remove the foil and transfer to your serving plate. If you lined the inner part of the pan with aluminum foil, the best way to separate the cake from it is to carefully slide a thin rubber pancake flipper between the crust and the foil and use the flipper to lift up the cake. The crust should be hard enough to keep from breaking.