Here it is, the end of the month already and time for another installment of the Daring Bakers. This months challenge was hosted by Deborah from Taste and Tell and Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms. I have to say that I was so excited when I found out that the challenge was Cheesecake pops. Cheesecake is one of my all time favorite desserts and I knew that I would have no problem making and eating this delectable treat.
The recipe was pretty straight forward. Bake a crustless cheesecake in a water bath, chill and scoop into balls. Freeze the balls with a lollipop stick in them and then dunk in tempered chocolate and coat with various toppings. The only thing that I found wrong with the recipe was the baking time. The recipe called to bake the cheesecake for 35-45 minutes and mine took about 60. That is a pretty huge discrepancy, but it seems that many of the Daring Bakers had the same problem. It makes me wonder if the recipe was written wrong in the cookbook as I have never baked so large a cheesecake in less than 50-60 minutes. Luckily having baked several cheesecakes before, I knew not to take it out so early.
The recipe turned out a silky smooth cheesecake that was extremely delicious. I will admit that I only made half of the recipe into the pops (which still gave me 30-40 pops). The rest I ate bite by bite throughout the day gaining me 5 extra pounds that week, but oh was it worth it! (I just can't resist cheesecake!!!)
I treated the cheesecake pops like caramel apples. I dressed part of the batch in dark chocolate and sprinkles, another part of the batch with dark chocolate, walnuts and chewy caramel. The last part of the batch I dipped directly into the hot chewy caramel and then into walnuts and then drizzled them with dark chocolate. I did have a bit of trouble dipping them into the caramel as it needed to be at a higher temperature to be thin enough to dip. This caused the cheesecake to start to melt a little and 2 or three of the bites fell off of the sticks. No matter they still tasted delicious with their chewy outer shell and their velvety centers. All in all it was a great challenge and one that I am likely to repeat.
adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor
Makes 30 – 40 Pops (or more if you make them small like I did)
5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs (I used 3 eggs when I baked half the recipe without a problem)
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, seeded
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) I also used cut chocolate transfer sheets.
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. (Mine took 55-60 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 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.
The Best Ever Caramel
(adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe for caramel apples)
1 1-pound box dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whipping cream (if necessary)
Combine all ingredients except for the whipping cream in heavy 2 1/2-quart saucepan (about 3 inches deep). Stir with wooden spatula or spoon over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves (no crystals are felt when caramel is rubbed between fingers), occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, about 15 minutes.
Attach clip-on candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat to medium-high; cook caramel at rolling boil until thermometer registers 236°F, stirring constantly but slowly with clean wooden spatula and occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, about 12 minutes. Pour caramel into metal bowl (do not scrape pan). Submerge thermometer bulb in caramel; cool, without stirring, to 200°F, about 20 minutes.
If caramel becomes too thick to dip into, add 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream and briefly whisk caramel in bowl over low heat to thin.