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!

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