Bailey’s cheesecake

Happy New Year! Today, I’ll share a delicious dessert that could break the strongest of New Year’s resolutions. After all, what’s not to love about Bailey’s, chocolate, and cheesecake, especially when combined into one delicious dessert? Bailey’s is one of my all-time favorite desserts drinks, so when I found this recipe, I knew I absolutely had to make it! It definitely lived up to my expectations. I guess that means I’m setting a high bar since this is the first cheesecake I’ve ever made!

(Notice the not-so-subtle product placement. I do not get paid by Bailey’s, but if you happen to work for Bailey’s, feel free to send a free bottle my way…)

Here’s the recipe that I used (from gimmesomeoven). I won’t repeat it here, since I only made one significant modification.

First, I made the crust, using chocolate graham crackers, and pressed it into the cheesecake pan.

Then, I made the filling, poured it into the pan, and baked it. I also made a water bath, as the recipe suggested, by filling a 9×13 pan half-way with water and placing it in the oven below the cheesecake like this:

You can tell that I’m at my parents’ house since the oven is so clean. Sadly, as you can see below, my cheesecake still cracked, despite the water bath. Oh well!

Then I covered the cheesecake with a delicious ganache, after which the cracks didn’t matter so much. When I removed the sides of the cheesecake pan, I tasted a little of the cheesecake that was crusted onto the pan and didn’t think it had a strong enough Bailey’s flavor, so I decided to modify the ganache somewhat…

Since Bailey’s is “Irish cream” and the ganache recipe called for “heavy cream,” I substituted Bailey’s for the heavy cream. I thought that the result was delicious and that it greatly enhanced the cheesecake, but the Bailey’s flavor in the ganache was quite strong (perhaps why I liked it so much…). If you aren’t sure how much Bailey’s flavor you can take, you might try using half Bailey’s and half heavy cream for the ganache.

Here’s the finished product:

I wasn’t quite sure whether I wanted the ganache to drip down the sides or stay on top, so I kind of ended up somewhere in the middle. Probably not the best decision, but it tasted great! Looking forward to making this one again sometime!

Almendrados (almond cookies)

Almendrados may be my new favorite cookies. They are flour-less almond cookies and oh man are they good! I had never heard of them until recently when I discovered them while searching for new Christmas cookies to make, but I figured I would like them since I love pretty much anything that is almond-flavored.

I actually didn’t make this batch, but will write about them anyway since I ate quite a few :) Almendrados have a delicious almond flavor and are fairly chewy, which makes them pretty unique compared to most cookies I’ve ever eaten. They would be great if you are looking for gluten-free cookies, since they still taste a lot like regular cookies. According to the recipe I found, almendrados are from a region in Spain with very little wheat, but lots of almond trees.  Pretty interesting!

Here’s the recipe we used. If you like almonds, I would highly recommend that you try them.  From what I hear, they aren’t very hard to make! The recipe calls for whole blanched almonds and I couldn’t find any in the store, so I bought almond slivers that had been blanched, and that seemed to work fine.

Christmas tree spritz cookies

When I think about Christmas food, one of the first things that comes to mind is, of course, Christmas cookies!  Between the baking, decorating, exchanging, and eating of Christmas cookies, it just wouldn’t seem like Christmas without them.  One of my favorite kinds of Christmas cookies is Christmas tree spritz cookies.  When I was growing up, they were never one of my absolute favorites (I think I always went for something that was chocolatey and/or covered in icing), but sometime a few years ago, I discovered a newfound love for them.  Since I got a cookie press for Christmas last year, now I can even make them at home! Here are a few of the ones that I made the other day:

The recipe was just from the box for the cookie press, so I won’t repeat it here.  However, I think it is key to find a recipe that calls for almond extract, which is, in my opinion, what gives them their semi-addictive quality.

Last time I used my cookie press, things went really well and it was very easy to use.  This time, I was not so lucky.  For whatever reason, the cookies did not want to stick to the cookie sheet as they came out of the cookie press, creating quite the problem.  I’m not entirely sure why not, but the most helpful approach seemed to be refrigerating the dough for a few minutes (despite the fact that the recipe explicitly said not to do this).

After resolving the dough problem, here is the first successful cookie sheet full of spritz cookies:

The cookies were delicious in the end!  As an added bonus, they have definitely put me in the holiday spirit.  What is your favorite kind of Christmas cookie?

Tiramisu Cake

How many law students and how many boxes of cake mix does it take to make a tiramisu layer cake like the one pictured below?

Trick question!  Apparently, it can’t be done.  At least not with just two law students.  We had to make it from scratch after the first two boxes of cake mix failed us.  Or maybe I should say that we failed them…

How can two seemingly competent bakers fail so miserably at making a cake from a cake mix? I’m still not quite sure, but it turned into quite the baking adventure.

It started with what seemed like an easy cake recipe…all that we needed to do was make a simple layer cake out of cake mix before adding lots of delicious other ingredients to make it into a tiramisu cake.  And then the first batch of cake came out like this:

Somehow, the cake batter decided not to spread throughout the pan to make a nice layer of cake. I’m not really sure what happened. Go ahead and click on the picture if you need to see it enlarged.

No problem, right?  I went to the store and bought another box of cake mix. This time, I was very careful to make sure that the batter spread throughout the entire pan.  But that turned out not to be the only problem, I learned.  Here’s what we got during round two:

I wish I could blame this on the oven, or the pans, or the cake mix, or…something…but I honestly have no idea what was going on.  Clearly, we should have lined the pans this time.

So then we contemplated making tiramisu trifle…

But this was for a dinner party, so my roommate decided to go the extra mile and make a third cake from scratch.  We made sure to spread the batter throughout the whole pan and to line the pans with parchment paper this time.

Success at last! Apparently, the third time’s a charm. Thankfully, the rest of the cake making process went much more smoothly.

We poured a coffee mixture into each layer, like this:

Notice how you get action shots when there are two cooks in the kitchen!  Then, we spread a mascarpone cheese filling in between the layers.

Looking good!  Then, we covered the cake with a whipped cream frosting, dusted it with cocoa, and topped it with chocolate curls.  Yum!  Here’s a slice of the finished product.  Please forgive me for being a terrible cake cutter.

And another one in case you want a close up of all the delicious layers!

The good thing is that the cake was really delicious!  I’m glad that it was worth it after all of that baking!

Here’s the recipe (adapted from AllRecipes.com):

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