This month's recipe was chosen by Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah from Taste and Tell for Cheesecakes Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. I've never heard of cheesecakes pops before, so I was excited to make it because I prefer bite-sized desserts to their regular- and sometimes super-sized counterparts. Also, I liked the whimsy-yet-contemporary feel of this dessert especially.
Seeing that the yield for this recipe was high, I decided to only make a half-recipe. I'd still have enough to play around with, but not so many that I'm up to my ears in cheesesicles!
From the Daring Bakers board, many of the others had issues with the baking time; the cheesecake took much longer to set than the time stated in the recipe. Was that true for me? Yes, because although my cheesecake set in the minimum time as per the recipe, remember that I halved the ingredients so the amount in the baking dish was less than if I had made the full recipe, meaning it would bake more quickly.
Now about the cheesecake, I love this recipe! It's the first time I used a water bath and now I will never not use a water bath again. The cheesecake set beautifully and didn't crack. Also, the recipe said to use heavy whipping cream, but since I only needed two tablespoons I decided just to add buttermilk instead. It may not have been enough to do anything major (which wasn't the result I wanted, anyway), but I think it added an undertone of tanginess. Mmm! The texture was the perfect consistency. Dense, yet light and smooth at the same time.
After resting in the refrigerator overnight, I sliced the cheesecake into small pieces and placed the tray in the fridge to freeze the pops until firm.
If you remember from my chocolate post, I am enthralled with a particular brand of chocolate. As I was collecting the ingredients in the store, I came across:
Sing it with me! Oh, SB, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind...
That's right! Flippin' sweet! There was no way I was leaving without buying it. No way.
It's just... so beautiful! It seemed almost a crime to chop it up. I did notice the undertones of honey that the description spoke about, which I was only able to taste after I chopped the bar up.
I apologize for the digression.
Since we could choose what to coat it with after dipping the pops in chocolate, I had two ideas in mind. First, cashews. Second, cashews with Chinese five spice powder.
For the chocolate, I coarsely chopped the cashews. With the white chocolate, I finely chopped the cashews and mixed it with about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder.
I couldn't wait to try these. The cheesecake tasted wonderfully and I was anxious to see how the chocolate against the cheesecake, and the cashews with spices against the white chocolate against the cheesecake would taste.
OMGooses. My first bite, as you can see, was the white chocolate. I couldn't believe how good the spices and cashews paired amazingly with the white chocolate. It was heavenly. Have you ever eaten something and just knew that it tasted right? This was it. I know I went on about the Scharffen Berger, but the clear winner tonight was the white chocolate pops.
The diminutive bites were actually just the right amount for a desert without causing epic distress on my stomach.
Thanks again, Elle and Deborah, for choosing a really fun and individual challenge!
And to you, the reader, don't forget to click on the Daring Bakers blogroll to read the many other wonderful posts from my fellow DBers!
Makes 30 – 40 Pops (full recipe)
- 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 (My note: I used bamboo skewers that I cut in half)
- 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
- Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional
(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible) (My note: When I normally use white chocolate to coat, I find it isn't really that much harder to use than chocolate. The only problem I encountered was that one type of white chocolate had trouble melting, though pressing with a spatula helped. Ghirardelli, however, melts beautifully.)
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 (My note: I did use an 8-inch springform pan, the bottom I covered in foil)), 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 note: It took 35 minutes for my cheesecake, all ingredients halved, to bake. If you make the full recipe, bake it for at least 55 minutes before you check it, though many of the DBers said it took about 1 1/2 hours to bake.)
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. (My note: I sliced the cheesecake into pieces instead of scooping into balls. If you do that, rinse the knife with hot water and wipe clean between slices.) 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.