Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cheesecake Pops

I recently found out about a cool blog-ring called The Daring Bakers' Challenge. Every month all participants get a challenge. They have to make the same recipe, take photos, and blog their end result on the same appointed day. This was the April challenge. I love challenges, so I decided to join the Darking Bakers and I will officially start with the challenges in August.

They are from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor.

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.

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

Lightly grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan). Pour the cheesecake batter into the cake pan and place in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly goldenon 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 cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchemtn paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the 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. 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.

My review of the cheesecake:
Most of the reviews said that this cheesecake didn't set at the time and temp. given in this recipe. So I wne to my normal recipe and took the time and temp from there. That was kind of a mistake because I ended up overcooking it a little.

Overall the taste was good, but this recipe called for a lot of eggs and I could actually taste the egg on the slightly overcooked edges. I didn't have a large enough pan to do a proper water bath and my cake ended up rising, splitting, and then collapsing a little bit. I think this was because of the eggs and perhaps over mixing combined with no water bath. I make cheesecake every valentine's day and I've never had problems like this. I think I will actually stay with my normal recipe from now on. Once I trimmed the top, bottom, and sides off, I was ready to scoop.

The ball rolling was a little messy, but I didn't have huge problems with it. I just had to periodically wash my hands to get the stickiness off. The sticks were easy enough, and dipping was fairly easy. However, because the cheesecake was frozen, it made the dipping chocolate firm up rather quickly, so I had to decorate fast. I just let them sit head up in a cup to firm before putting them back in the fridge.

Oh, I dipped a few in jam before I dipped in the chocolate. It made the chocolate a little tricky, but the pops with the thinner homemade strawberry jam turned out quite tasty. The ones with the thicker freezer jam were too sweet.

Main problem:
The main problem with this recipe was the stick. This is a rather cute idea, but the cheesecake just didn't adhere well enough to the stick to actually eat it like a lollipop. If I set them upside down the stick just pulled out when the cheesecake was at room temp. If I turned them right side up, the cheesecake slid right down the stick. So, overall, these were a little tricky to serve.

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