Monday, March 14, 2011

Your Irish Bakery, Or How to Satisfy Your Inner Leprechaun

When Irish eyes are smilin’, ‘tis like a morn in spring…or so they say! When I envision a gorgeous spring morning, I see endless fields of green—and what better way to bring beauty like that straight to the table, than a Crème De Menthe Swirl Cheesecake. It’s the coolest of cakes, both in presentation and flavor—just perfect after a spicy or hearty dinner when you and your loved ones palates could use some lightening up. The baker can decide just how much he or she intends to “leave ‘em laughin’” by choosing to add the liquor or substituting it. My crème de menthe cheesecake calls for a half a cup of crème de menthe, but you can keep it completely G-rated by substituting green food gel and a teaspoon of mint flavoring.

License to Bake: Cheesecakes Are a Blank Slate that Let You Decorate with Just About Anything!

Cheesecake is the ultimate creative license, when it comes to advertising exactly what it is you’re celebrating. Thanks to its rich and wonderful base, cheesecakes blend well with all types of colorful garnishes like berries, coconut, chocolate curls, kiwi and mango. You can also add many variations to the cheese base like candy or cookie pieces—as I’ve done in this recipe—as well as kick things up with other liqueurs like Amaretto or Couintrea—but perhaps one of the most fitting ways you can custom create your St. Patty’s cheescake, is to fashion a four leaf clover out of green kiwi slices on top.

More Notes on Mastering Your Next Cheese Cake

As an alternate baking method guaranteed to produce a perfectly baked cheesecake, try this method. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place the cheesecake onto the center rack and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat and bake for 1 hour or until the center is set. Turn the oven off. Allow the cheesecake to remain in the oven for 1 hour longer. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Also, check in with Nana’s Favorite Things to get a veteran cheesecake maker’s recommendation on springform pans, which will make most, if not all your cake making pursuits, the cakewalk you want them to be!

Complete Your Irish Bakery with a Traditional Soda Bread

Okay, now on to the next bakery item…my recipe for traditional Irish Soda Bread will have you inhaling the aroma of a top Dublin bakery in just 45 minutes; this recipe was popularized by Irish immigrants, who introduced their dense, delicious sweet bread to the United States at the turn of the 19th Century. It’s fair to say that Irish soda bread has many variations—one of the original recipes includes caraway seeds. Other dried fruits like cherries or currants are also popular additions. Brown soda bread uses whole wheat flour, oats and wheat bran to produce a very hardy loaf—perfect for dipping into your great big bowl of Irish Seafood Stew, the star entrée for Thursday’s special St. Pat’s Day edition of my blog. Check there, for an insider’s notes on the peril and hysterics involved in kissing the Blarney Stone and other tourist experiences that formed both knowledge and praise of Irish cuisine—which is so much more than boiled cabbage!

And so I leave you with the tail end of my favorite Irish blessing, “until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.” I’ll post again soon with Easter tidings and tasty tid-bits : )


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