We’re in the process of planning. It’s not important as to what we’re planning; what’s important is that it involves testing recipes in order to find some really great ones for a luncheon in December. All right, we admit that we started pretty early, and we might have waited a bit longer, but we didn’t. That means you get to try out our Individual Irish Cream Cheesecakes. We’ll tell you right now, they’re easy to make.
This recipe is based somewhat on a Thomas Keller recipe for a standard cheese cake; we kept the idea of including mascarpone cheese, dropped the lemon flavor, simplified the instructions, reduced the amount (we’re taste- testing, remember), changed the crust, and eliminated the springform pan, so we’ll call this a Keller-Scracthin’ It hybrid. If you want the original version, you can find it in Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller.
Do you have to make your own mascarpone cheese, as we did? No, of course not, but we will tell you that mascarpone is the easiest cheese to make (and our links show you how), but a pretty expensive cheese to buy, so consider it. We made ours the day before, and, while the clotted cream was cooling, we quickly whipped up the dough for Famous(ly) Expensive Chocolate Wafers. Then it was simple to bake up 20, right before baking the cheesecake. For the Irish Cream, we used Baileys®; sometime we might consider making our own. Finally, if you want to make a full-sized cheesecake in a springform pan, double the recipe.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 275°F. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. It seems as if that’s a really low temperature for the oven, but, if you want smooth, creamy cheesecake without a cracked surface, it should be very low. For full-sized cheesecakes you can go with a higher temperature, but for these little treats, go low. We’ll be using a water bath for baking (or bain marie, if you want to be fancy), but it’s not difficult, and, yes, it’s necessary for smooth, creamy cheesecake.
Beat cheeses. Place the cream cheese and mascarpone in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and start mixing on low to incorporate the sugar and break up the cheeses. When you can, start increasing the speed to medium, then beat until the mixture is very smooth and light, about 5 minutes. Feel free to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time.
Add eggs. Add the eggs and beat in on medium until you have a smooth, uniform mixture. Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed.
Add flavors. Add the Irish cream and vanilla and beat long enough to incorporate. Depending on the time of day, and your personal practices, you might need a bit of the Irish cream to keep you going. We won’t tell.
Fill ramekins. Divide the filling among the ramekins, tasting as necessary to ensure quality control.
Make water bath. The first time we used a water bath, it seemed intimidating, but, really, it’s nothing more than placing the ramekins in a large enough baking pan and pouring in boiling water until the level is halfway up the sides. We think the safest way to do this is to place the ramekins in the baking dish, place the baking dish on the middle rack of the oven (slide it out first), pour in the water, then carefully slide the rack into place.
Bake. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until the filling is set enough that it doesn’t jiggle when the pan is moved. The filling should also have just the lightest tinge of brown around the edges.
Cool. Carefully remove the baking pan from the oven, water and all, and set on a cooling rack. Let the cheesecakes lounge in the hot water until they’re mostly cooled, about 45 minutes, then cover each with a bit of plastic wrap and refrigerate to cool completely (or, if you like slightly warm cheesecake, eat them now). If you’re worried about your ability to move a pan of hot water, you can also turn off the oven, open the door, and let everything cool in place.
Crush cookies and top. Right before serving, use a fork to crush the cookies finely. The finer the better, and, perhaps, if you’re topping all the cheesecakes at once, you might use a food processor, but a fork works, too. Just be careful when you work, as crumbs seem to jump out onto the floor, necessitating a bit of clean up. Once crushed, top each cheesecake and serve.
Putting the crust on top, as crushed cookies, makes these seem super simple to make, which they are. After all, it’s simply mix and bake. And, they taste delicious, nice and creamy, with a super taste from the Irish cream. Naturally, we also love using the chocolate cookie crumbs as a topping, and leaving them in the ramekins makes this an easy-to-eat treat. Easy five stars, even making the mascarpone and cookies ourselves.