First Challenge…Done!

29 04 2008

For those of you who don’t know, I am a member of an online group called the Daring Bakers. This month’s challenge was cheesecake pops, which are basically bites of cheesecake on a popcicle stick. Per the group’s rules, I stuck to the recipe, however, instead of cream cheese, I used neufchatel, which is a lower fat version of cream cheese. I really prefer to make cheesecake out of neufchatel because it bakes a little lighter, and less oppressive. Also, I had a little trouble getting the sticks to stay upright, but I discovered that a.) if you lightly cover the balls with foil and poke the sticks through, they have something to hold them upright when they set. Also, b.) once you dip the balls in chocolate, it forms a seal around the stick. These are really good and, now that I have the hang of things, I’m planning to make them again this weekend.

Also, this is a photo from the original recipe (it was too pretty not to post!), as my camera is having issues. However, let it be known that I dipped my cheesecake balls in dark chocolate and then lightly rolled in graham cracker crumbs, in order to replicate that perfect bite of cheesecake.

Anyway, here’s the 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 (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.

Be sure to visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see the creative Cheesecake Pops the other Daring Bakers created!

In other news, people keep talking about the whole Miley Cyrus thing and I have to say that I feel not one iota of sympathy for her. She willingly took off the flesh-colored tank top she was wearing and she approved the shots. Hell, the even spoke about them favorably in the article. And her parents and handlers were there during the photo session. Sounds to me like she was getting some heat from the Disney peeps and had to blame someone rather than take responsibility for her actions. Is the photo racy? For a 15 year old, yes. But so was the Rolling Stone cover shot of Britney Spears back in 1998 and there wasn’t anywhere near the public outcry there is over this. So why this photo? It’s actually pretty and kinda arty. And it probably wouldn’t be such a big deal if she didn’t go out of her way to issue an apology and talk about how “embarassed” she is. The Disney people are saying that this is exploitation of a 15 year old, but if we’re going to assign blame, how about if we direct it at the parents and handlers who were there, and conveniently left before this photo was taken? Who was protecting her interests if she’s so young and impressionable? She’s been in this business since she was 8 and is probably a lot savvier than people are willing to admit. In case you missed it, here is the photo. Discuss.




4 responses

29 04 2008

First challange under your belt and it sure was a fun one. The May challange sounds exciting with all the suspence till May 1st.
Welcome to the Club!

29 04 2008

These are super cute…love the ribbons and happy colors…such fun! Glad you are a Daring Baker!!

1 05 2008

Your pops looks so yummy! Great job.

14 05 2008

Congrats on your first challenge! Great job. Your pops look like a party ready to happen!

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