Friday, March 16, 2007

Calling All Leprechauns

Here, in anticipation of a lively St. Patrick’s Day, is your holiday pie. Its Irish-ness derives from a hearty splash of Bailey’s Irish Cream, perhaps not the most authentic of beverages, but certainly one of the most beloved.


The pie is a close cousin to a cheesecake, with a cream cheese filling that’s lightened (ha!) with whipping cream and a nice dousing of the liqueur. A chocolaty crumb crust and shavings on top give it an extra boost of flavor.


Bailey’s is tasty indeed, yet it is not the beverage that I most associate with the Emerald Isle, nor is the country’s namesake whiskey. No, when I think of Ireland (and I do, often) I think of the splendid Guinness. One of my most vivid (albeit boozy) memories involves a voyage I took in college. The trip was a homecoming of sorts, not for me, but for a fellow student who intended to look up relatives in County Mayo. There were a few problems with the scenario. The first was that my friend had never actually met any of these relatives before, although she assured me that they’d welcome not only her – but also two of her friends -- with smilin’ Irish eyes. The second was that I had to make my way across Ireland all alone, since for whatever cockamamie reason I couldn’t leave Paris at the same time as the two of them. The third complication was that it was Christmas.

I hasten to remind you that things were primitive then, without cell phones and ATM cards and Google Maps. Somehow, after boarding the ferry to Ireland, I realized I’d left most of my traveler’s checks back in Paris. I seem to recall having about three dollars in my backpack, and just the name of the town where the clan was said to reside.

Luckily, that was enough. A family I met on board the ferry gave me a ride for part of the way and then, somehow (please don’t try this at home) I managed to hitchhike to my destination. I ended up in the appointed town late in the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Although I had no specific street address, everyone knew the Gintys and pretty soon I did, too. My friend had been right – that great big Irish family couldn’t have been more welcoming. They clucked over my adventure, fed me lamb stew, and asked me if I knew any American television stars.

After dinner, some of the Irish cousins took us to the pub and before we knew what was happening, there were five Guinness’ lined up in a row for each of us. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to buy a drink for the American Girls. The American Girls did not demur.

Toasting! Dancing! Singing! We’d barely put a dent in the evening when the midnight bells began to chime. Bong! Bong! Bong! Before the bells had struck four, the entire pub rushed out the door and we were whisked along with them to the church next door. ‘Twas Christmas and time for midnight mass.

That, dear Readers, was my idea of a religious experience.

Irish Cream Pie

Crumb crust:
9 oz. chocolate wafer cookies, finely crushed
4 T. butter, melted

2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 c. whipping cream
1/2 c. Bailey's Irish Cream
1/2 t. vanilla

dark chocolate for shaving

Combine cookie crumbs and butter and press mixture onto bottom and sides of 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

Blend together cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Whip the cream in separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold whipping cream, Bailey's Irish Cream, and vanilla into cream cheese mixture.

Spoon filling over crumb crust and set in refrigerator for at least 3 hours. At serving time, shave dark chocolate over top of pie -- and pass the Bailey's.


At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight. You bake the crust. But you don't bake the filling. You don't cook the filling at all. So you don't "cook out" the alcohol in the Bailey's. Right?

Hmmmm... I *must* try this.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger The Queen of Tarts said...

anonymous, That's right. 1/2 cup of Bailey's. Intact. Bottoms, I mean, forks up!


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