I just completed my second and very exciting Daring Bakers challenge. The challenge for April proved to be a fun and creative endeavor. I didn't realize how lucky we were that Deborah of Taste and Tell and Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms chose Cheesecake Pops from the cookbook Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O’Connor. If you want to smile, then dig in to my story.
Whimsy. That is what I felt as I worked on this this challenge.
I must admit, when I first received the challenge, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was excited. I adore cheesecake, and the thought of making cheesecake lollipops seemed - oh so fun. But, on the other hand, my number one customer, the person I love to please the most, my dear hubby, Jamie does not care for cheesecake. I know...how is that possible? To complicate things, the day of the offical challenge posting fell on our anniversary, so here I was baking him a dessert that I knew wouldn't ignite his fire.
To my surprise, he actually liked them. He admitted that he couldn’t eat very many, but he was very impressed with the finished product. He thought they were so pretty that they could be in a confectionary store. They made him feel the whimsy.
The Cheesecake Pops tasted yummy, but they looked even better than expected. When I first started baking these creations, I wasn’t sure of the outcome. I was a little nervous that I would turn out very messy un-refined looking cheesecake pops. I decided I needed to take my time and do this over a 2 day period. So, I baked the cheesecake on Friday. The cheesecake was super easy to bake. It is definitely a go-to cheesecake recipe. The cheesecake baked beautifully. I was sad to not serve it as is. But, I followed the recipe refrigerated it overnight. At the same time, I was dreading and looking forward to destroying my perfectly baked cheesecake.
On Saturday morning, I began making the cheesecake balls. This was a little challenging. I found that the cheesecake was sticky. My first approach was too serious and adult-like. I tried to use a scoop to make perfect round balls. My frustration mounted and I soon gave up and resorted to the best utensils in my kitchen, my hands. I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. That was when the magic happenend. I felt light-hearted, all the while reminiscing of my childhood. It felt whimsical.
The fun came with dipping, dredging, and decorating the cheesecake pops. Since variety is the spice of life, I decided to dip the cheesecake into chocolate and then cover them in a variety of toppings, such as crushed walnuts, colored sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, and swirls of white chocolate. I wanted a happy assortment. My favorite was the white chocolate swirl. They all looked so pretty. I was so giddy with the results.
If you are looking for a dessert that will fill you with a sense of whimsy, this dessert has your name on it. Bake, roll, dip, and decorate!
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.