Sunday, April 27, 2008

daring bakers begin

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:

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 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


Chris said...

These look great. Congrats on your first challenge! I had the issue with dipping too. I had the pop in hand, then was like....uhhhhh...I made some conconction that worked - but there mad to be an easier way. :)

Kitty said...

yes chris, i'm sure there's some patent out there with a DB's name on it. i will have to come up with something better if i want to do this again!

kimberleyblue said...

Welcome to DB! This was only my second challenge, and a good one it was. I love cheesecake too...mmmm....

Yours look delicious - great job!

Gabi said...

Great job on your first challenge!
Welcome to the DBs :)

Jerry said...

Congrats on completing your first challenge! They look great!

Deborah said...

You did a great job on this month's challenge. Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Christine said...

These look great! Congrats on your first challenge, mine too. My issue was that I should have dipped the pops in small batches. I did it on a warm day and they started to get soft real quick and would "pop" out of the stick!

marye said...

Congrats on your first challenge. Nice job!

Susan said...

I had the same problem trying to figure out how to keep them upright. I thought of the styrofoam inserts that come as padding in the when you buy some small appliance -- never seem to know what to do with that stuff but of course when I actually needed some I couldn't find any. An apple would work too (idea stolen from Tartelette). Anyway, your pops look great, welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Jenny said...

Some of my cheesecake went to strawberries, so I know how it can just disappear. I made the whole recipe though, and it seemed practically endless (I went through three bags of chocolate chips covering them and still didn't have enough!!)

Kitty said...

shucks, thanks all for your kind words, i'm looking forward to next month's challenge (hoping for something hot for our impending winter). can't wait to check out all of your posts too!

Lunch Buckets said...

Welcome to the group. We should get together sometime and drinkImeancook!

Tempered Woman said...

uhm, actually a cork and shot glass makes perfect sense to me~ heh.
I think they look like they tasted good and bottom line that's what really counts, right? even better if they are a good hangover cure. ;-)

Megan said...

I love the cork and shot glass. Pretty smart idea!

Kitty said...

bento-baby, you're on! Anytime you find yourself in my neck 'o the woods, we'll drink... i mean cook up a storm. OK, i mean drink. looks like TW and megan should come along for the ride!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Looks like you did a great job facing your challenges! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!!