Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cheesecake Pops: When Cheesecake Falls For Lolly Sticks

Our Daring Bakers Challenge #1

This post should be posted up right on the 27th of April, which is Sunday and shoot, we've just managed to get the baked goods done on the day before. And these dainty looking miniature Popsicles were all gone the next day after. That was fast. Without hesitation and worries for contributing excess calories into our body system, we've grab a few sticks to kick start our pulses. It WAS as good and delish as it claimed to be.

Procrastinating is killing us, and we have just thought it over; well, better late than never. Though we were 3 days late for posting this up. We're very determined now; as this is our first Daring Bakers Challenge to be. Our very first task
is cheese on sticks; which were called as Cheesecake Pops to other bakers.

Daring Bakers (DB) Challenge for the month of April; Cheesecake Pops from a dessert cookbook titled "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey", written by Jill O'Connor. April's DB Challenge were hosted by Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasm and Deborah from Taste And Tell. We were totally excited as it was our first DB challenge. Enthusiastically joyful when the lip smacking cheesecake pops were done.

Days before the big day (of messing around in the kitchen), we were strolling around the city in the hope of getting ourselves a humongous packet of lollipop sticks. From bakery stores to big marts, none were to be found. Alas, after searching for days, we've gave up and get down and dirty with a chock full of lean wooden sticks. Let's say, skewers, which were made out of wood or may be bamboo. Each and every single stick were measured and cut into a length of approximately 3.5 inches. We hate to say this, but many were dumped into the bin due to the icky splinters, frustrating. Very frustrating.

Cheesecake Pops (Yields: 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

1. Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.

5. When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

6. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

7. 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.
8. Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
9.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 confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.

10. Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

We took more than stated, to bake the cheesecake. An hour plus. We covered half of the pops with white chocolate while the remaining was covered in dark chocolate. A mix of shortening blends perfectly into the chocolate-dipping pool, where chocolate were easily set once the cheesecake pops had finished swimming and swirling. Toppings were sprinkled onto the pops before the chocolate has set entirely. A block of Polytherene was used as to keep the cheesecake pops in an upright position to let the pops set properly. We were afraid that the toppings on the half-set pops might fall off if they were laid onto the tray - lined parchment paper. Toppings include toasted almond flakes, finely milled digestive biscuits, finely milled black sesame and colorful hundreds and thousands.

Since we have some chocolate as leftovers, it was then melted and piped onto the cheesecake pops. A cute-looking rodent was created. A female rodent with a rose bud on its ear, to be exact.

The other two came along; a pooch and a cold fat lard; a piggy. Poor quality shots, because we were in a hurry. The verdict; the cheesecake pops were creamy and its luscious cheese filling is the star in its own form. It may looked unimpressive, but taste wise, the kids are giving in their two-thumbs up.