Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cheesecake Pops!

This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was the fabulous Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. Our gracious hosts were Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah from Taste and Tell. I had so much fun with this month's challenge. I was a little worried at first, because Brad is not a big fan of cheesecake. So, I didn't know if I'd get a chance to make them. But luckily, 2 of my best friends gave me the perfect reasons to try them out!

Ashley's birthday was April 15th, and she LOVES of course I made her a batch! Then, Jessica had her Bachelorette Party this month. Her wedding colors were purple and green, so I made a second batch to coordinate with her colors. I think they turned out really cute!

Cheesecake Pops
Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

* 5   8-oz packages cream cheese at room temperature
* 2 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/4 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.

By the last batch, I realized a few things:

1. If you chill the entire cheesecake in the freezer overnight, it makes it much easier to form it into balls the next day. The cheesecake never really got frozen all the way through, so it was still perfectly easy to work with.

2. If you lightly spray your hands with cooking spray (like Pam), it helps to keep your hands from getting too goopy during the ball-forming process. I did have to wash my hands several times and re-apply before the entire batch was formed into balls.

3. I think I heated the first batch of chocolate too quickly. I was more patient with the second batch, and it was much easier to dip. I also found that the chocolate morsels...instead of the chocolate blocks...made for easier dipping and prettier pops in the end.

For the second month in a row, I've posted my Daring Baker's Challenge late...I'm sorry! For some reason, I had it in my head that the last day of the month was the post day. I'll try to be on time next time!

I'm looking forward to next month's challenge...can't wait to see what it is!

Ashley's Birthday Pops...

An assortment....

Jessica's Wedding Pops...

Before dipping...


Melanie said...

I LOVE the purple and green. SO cute. And the tips you gave were awesome - I wish I had known those BEFORE I made them. :)

Elizabeth said...

Your cheesecake pops look so awesome!

Anonymous said...

What a good idea! i LOVE the colors!!

Deborah said...

Your pops look wonderful!!

Anonymous said...

Your pops are so pretty and colorful, great job!