April's Daring Bakers Challenge was Cheesecake Pops. I'm running a little late in posting about my pops. Sometimes when I'm running late for something, my husband will take on an exasperated tone of voice with me. To this, I tell him that it's better to be running a little late than to be 24 hours early! 24 hours early refers to an evening 4 years ago. His co-worker invited us over for dinner on a Saturday night. Somehow, David mixed up the dates and was absolutely certain her invite was for Friday night. So, Friday evening rolls around and we frantically fight Friday afternoon rush hour in the DC area, as David is anxious to not be late, since he doesn't know this co-worker all that well. We ring the doorbell, his co-worker answers the door, a very puzzled look on her face. I believe her exact words were, "David, I thought you and your wife were coming over tomorrow night!" It was at this moment where I truly grasped what true mortification felt like. We both apologized profusely and told her we'd leave, go home, tail between our legs and that she'd never have to worry about feeding us again, as we were completely and totally unworthy. She wouldn't hear of it. Our hostess, bless her heart, welcomed us into her home a full 24 hours early and graciouly divided her and her husband's dinner onto our plates. It truly was a lesson in adaptability and making near strangers feel at home. So, now, four years later, my embarrassment has dimmed slightly and I am able to tease my husband about how he showed up 24 hours early to a dinner party, hosted by someone he did not know all that well, and he brought along his unsuspecting wife to boot. So you can see how I much prefer to be a little late than being early! Anyhow, back to April's Daring Bakers Challenge.
The very best part of this challenge was, hands down, the decorating of the pops. I had so much fun swirling the pops in chocolate, caramel, nuts, coconut and sprinkles. The cheesecake itself is fairly straightforward and it's baked sans crust, so it can all be scooped out to make the pops. Personally, I didn't care much for the cheesecake flavor solo, but once the pops were coated in chocolate and all the other flavors, look out! Once decorated, I really enjoyed this little treat. Some problems I had: the cheesecake's consistency was very soft, so it was difficult to scoop out the pops. I ended up freezing the cheesecake overnight to firm it up for scooping. Also, the baking time mentioned, 35-45 minutes, is not long enough. I had to bake the cheesecake roughly 60 minutes and even then, I felt like the interior was a bit too soft. So the very center of the cheesecake went un-scooped. Other than those few issues, this was a lot of fun to make and decorate and I bet young kids would like this sort of dessert. Don't forget to check out the other Daring Bakers' creations here. Also, a big thank you to April's hosts, Deborah from Taste and Tell and Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms for their terrific choice of Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor.
adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor
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
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, chopped or in chips
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
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. (My baking time was more like 60 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 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 to 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 paperlined 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.