Friday, April 5, 2013

Cookbook Challenge #7 - The Irish Pub Cookbook

It’s now three weeks PAST St. Patrick’s Day, but I feel that any day is good for a cheesecake, especially a boozy Bailey’s and Guinness cheesecake!

For St. Patrick’s Day, we do a gathering at our house.  It’s the second largest to Christmas for us.  My staple dessert is my St. Patrick’s Day Cake (a Guinness Cake base, with Jameson Irish Whiskey buttercream and Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolate Ganache).  It’s amazing, but I always like to make something else to go with.  It changes each year.  Last year it was Guinness floats (do you think we like Guinness or what?) and this year I wanted to try the Bailey’s Irish Cream and Murphy’s Stout cheesecake in my challenge cookbook, The Irish Pub Cookbook by Margaret M. Johnson and Leigh Beisch.

Since I actually don’t cook a lot outside of food gatherings with friends and family (yeah, weird, I know), I am usually trying out a recipe I’ve never made before on a group of people.  I have a steadfast policy that if whatever I’m trying doesn’t work, we can always order pizza!  In the case of dessert, we can always go grab ice cream!

In all my years of testing new recipes on unsuspecting guests, I have never had to go to plan B.  This recipe is the first that almost sent me out to the corner store for ice cream.  First, I couldn’t find my springform pan.  I searched high and low (of course it was the morning of the party) and... nothing!  I finally pulled out my tart pan and decided it was just going to be a very shallow cheesecake.  This was actually a blessing in disguise.  I made the crust according to the instructions and then started to make the no-bake cheesecake.  The instructions said to cook the stout and brown sugar for 8-10 minutes or until it became syrupy and coated the back of the spoon.  Thirty-five minutes later, the stout was still as thin as when I put it into the pan and only reduced by a third.  I gave up, afraid of burning the mixture, and just kept going with the recipe.  I mixed in the rest of the ingredients, poured what fit into the pan (only a third of the total mixture if that much) and put it all in the fridge to set for the 3-5 hours.

Six hours later, the tart was just firm enough to cut, but once it was plated, it started to spread.  It was super creamy and VERY strong with the taste of the Bailey’s, but it was NOT a cheesecake.  I think the only reason it set as much as it did was because it was only an inch thick.

In talking with my sister-in-law who has to reduce stout and brown sugar for one of her recipes for cookies, she told me that she has to cook the stout and sugar mixture for at least 45 minutes to get it to become a syrup.  Did they not test the recipe before they printed it?  I think information like that is sort of important.

So, a week later, I still had the other 2/3 of the cheesecake mixture in my fridge.  It has not set any more than in the additional 168 hours in the fridge.  Inspired by my recent Jamie Oliver class, I decided to make a cheesecake parfait out of it.  With a little extra whipped cream and another batch of the crust, I came up with an excellent (and still strong) no bake cheesecake cup.  Here is the recipe with the adaptations to make the cups.

 Bailey’s Irish Cream and Guinness No-Bake Cheesecake Cups

2 cups digestive cookie crumbs (smash about 16-18 biscuits)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
4 cups Guinness Irish Stout
2 cups dark brown sugar
8 ounces cream cheese (one package), room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
4 cups cups heavy cream, divided in 2
3/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur
1/4 ounce unflavored gelatin (one packet)
1 cup boiling water

In a small bowl, mix melted butter and digestive cookie crumbs until they feel like wet sand.  Take a spoon and divide evenly among 12-16 eight-ounce containers (depending on how many you are serving).  Mash down bread crumbs with the back of a spoon or the end of a muddler to make a solid bottom.  Refrigerate until ready to fill.

In a saucepan, combine Guinness and brown sugar.  Bring to a slow boil and reduce heat, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning.  Cook for 35-40 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced by about a third and has a slightly thicker consistency.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.*

In a small bowl, combine boiling water and gelatin.  Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved (about 5 minutes).   

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add 2 cups of heavy cream and beat until incorporated (3-4 minutes).  Stir in 1/2 the remaining cooled Guinness syrup and all the Bailey’s.  

Add 2 tablespoons of the Guinness syrup to the gelatin mixture, then add to the cream cheese mixture and mix to combine.  Let cheesecake mixture set in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Remove cheesecake mixture from refrigerator.  In a large bowl, whip 2 cups heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Add whipped cream to the cheesecake mixture and carefully fold to combine.  Divide evenly among 8-ounce cups with crumb base.  Return to the refrigerator to set 2 hours to overnight.

To serve, you can crumble a couple more digestive cookies and maybe add a mint leaf for a touch of green.

* NOTE FROM THE COOK - Do NOT put the Bailey’s into the hot stout and sugar mixture.  I did and it curdled immediately!  I had to throw out the batch and use the remainder of the stout and sugar mixture to make the rest.  If you do not make the horrible mistake I did, you will have 1/2 of the stout and sugar mixture left.  Keep refrigerated and use it to make another batch later, or try reducing it further on the stove top to make a syrup.  Good luck!

Serves 12-16



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