i was trying to think of some cool title for this post, but the large amount of alcohol i had on friday is still playing with my brain i think, so i could come up with nothing. i know there's something about cheese out there dying to be used.
but this is my first daring bakers challenge, and thus my rather boring title.
this month's challenge was cheesecake pops. now, i have two confessions to make. firstly i absolutely love cheesecake. really. totally. secondly, and this is more shocking, i'm not really that big a fan of chocolate. i've grown to like it more over the years, and if it's put before me i'll eat it, but i've never really understood what the fuss was. so getting perfectly good cheesecake and covering it in chocolate seemed like a bit of a waste. but i'm reformed. these were just great, i really liked them, but there's story that goes with them, like almost everything i make. but to start off with, here's the official recipe:
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 with 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
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.
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 as needed.
Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.
now: here's where i went wrong. firstly i totally got the weight conversions wrong and came home from the supermarket with not nearly enough cream cheese. not having time to go back i just halved the recipe. the cake took much long to cook than it was supposed to, but i've read lots of comments from other bakers who have had the same problem. so i didn't have enough to scoop out balls, so i cut mine into cubes instead (oh yeah, i was also too impatient to turn out the cake so it hadn't set probably, so about a quarter of that was just eaten straight away, can you see my number of pops disappearing????)
but the rest went into the freezer nicely. i couldn't find plastic lollypop sticks, although i didn't look too hard, but i'm not a fan of putting plastic stuff in my mouth (sticks, cutlery, that horrible plastic cheese stuff) so i used tooth picks instead.
i was unsure about the shortening in the chocolate, but did it anyway and it did add a crack to the chocolate and didn't change the flavour at all.
my biggest problem was what to do with the pops as i dipped them. i added some of those funky 1950's-esque metallic cachous on the top, so didn't want to invert them and loose most of the chocolate, and my colour along the way. with the first one dripping in my hand i grabbed what ever way lying around - a champagne cork and a shot glass. not everyone has these things lying around their kitchen, but you probably don't drink as much as i do.
this allowed me to do about four at a time and then rest them for a few seconds before starting again.
if you're making these my advice is to only take a couple out of the freezer at a time anyway. they thaw very quickly and then disintegrate in the melted chocolate.
overall, mistakes of quantity, time and adequate setting locations aside, these were a great success. i actually took the sticks out and served them on a plate. they reminded me of cobbers - the caramel squares covered in chocolate that i was very fond of as a child. and the creamy cake inside the chocolate was really lovely.
if you want to see some fabulous ones, visit Joey Biscotti! these are total works of art. i will certainly be trying these again at some stage and hope to get as fancy as these guys have
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