Sunday, April 27, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Cheesecake Pops

Let me just start by saying, YUMMY!!!! Okay, this month's challenge was delicious cheesecake pops. I was pretty excited about this challenge for two reasons:

1. This is my 2nd DB challenge.
2. I've NEVER made cheesecake before!!

My baking desires have always led me in directions other than cheesecake. I can honestly say I've never even thought about making it up until I saw the proposed challenge. This recipe has totally changed that for me. I was somewhat surprised at how simple it was to make cheesecake. I was NOT surprised at how difficult it would be to roll those pesky little balls.

As much as I would've loved to take photos of me actually rolling the balls, I care about my camera a little to much to get cheesecake stuck in every nook and cranny of it. Anyhoot, I decided to go with a blue and brown color scheme (my favorite color combination) for my challenge.
Here's a few pics of the different toppings I used which included chopped pecans, candy crystal sprinkles, chocolate jimmies and graham cracker crumbs.

Check out the recipe below:

Cheesecake Pops

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup heavy cream

Boiling water as needed

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks

1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

I chose to halve the recipe since I didn't desire to add an additional 10lbs onto my derriere this weekend. This can be done in a standard 8inch cake pan. Even after cooking half of the recipe it STILL took about 1 hour to cook. After reading that some DBers had trouble along the way I was a little worried but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe and the entire process of turning the cheesecake into pops. Maybe I have somewhat of an unfair advantage due to my past Cake Ball experiments but this truly was a breeze. I mean, the cheesecake is definitely sticky and a bit of a pain to roll into balls but it was more amusing than it was frustrating.

Thanks to Elle and Deborah for choosing such a fabulous challenge. I can't wait to see what's in store for the next challenge!!

*update* These little cuties have been featured on Tastespotting's Best of the Week list!! Whoo Hoo!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Chocolate Chip Blondies

No.....not THOSE Blondie's, THESE Blondies!!

These were very tasty and didn't make it through the weekend. I made these on Saturday and they were non-existent by Sunday evening. Turns out these happen to be a favorite treat of my DH (dear husband). The best thing about all of this is the free promotion that I receive when he takes my goodies to work with him. I've developed quite the reputation down at his workplace which feels kinda nice. Check out the recipe below:

Chocolate Chip Blondies

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Place butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in mixer bowl. Mix for 1 minute, scraping the bowl when needed. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Beat 15 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl then continue to blend for an additional 15 seconds. Add walnuts and chocolate chips, mixing just until combined. Press dough into 13x9x2 inch greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan then cut into bars.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Shortbread fingers

Have I ever mentioned how much I love shortbread?? I mean, it's the most simple thing to make yet it's soo tasty! I make it quite often and to be honest with you, it's simplicity stopped me from posting about it.......until this morning when I made some and decided I should share it with you! Check out the step by step instructions below WITH photos.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping (or make your own like I did!)
1/4 cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
2oz. milk chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven at 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil (be sure to leave some hanging over the edge).

Combine butter, powdered sugar and brown sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy.

Reduce speed to low, adding flour, baking powder and salt, beating until combined.

Press dough into prepared pan and prick with fork in even intervals.

Bake for approx. 25 minutes or until light brown. Using foil, remove shortbread from pan.

Immediately cut into desired pieces. Place caramel topping in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until caramel has slightly thickened, (about 3 minutes).

Remove from heat and drizzle caramel over cookies. Sprinkle with almonds.

Allow to cool completely. Melt chocolate until soft, using microwave or stovetop. Stir until smooth, drizzle over cooled cookies. Let stand until set.

The result: A tender, sweet, chocolately treat with a hint of salt that takes the edge off the added sweetness. Morning coffee approved!! Reminds me of a Twix somewhat.

Monday, April 7, 2008

We're back up....for now!

Thanks to all of you that emailed me in regards to my site being down yesterday and today. My website is going through a few changes but due to technical difficulties those changes have been postponed. Thanks for your patience.

I will have a new post up this week so thanks for reading!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Happy Birthday to you!!

So, today was my DH (dear hubby) birthday. I will be kind to him and not mention his age. Well, his one request was to have chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Now, I must admit, I was somewhat bummed out because it didn't present a challenge BUT it was well worth it for my honey bun.

Happy birthday, sweetie!!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
The Barefoot Contessa


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows
Chopped salted peanuts, to decorate, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frost each cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired.

Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

template by