When I first read about cheesecake pops being the DB challenge for April, it took me a while to figure out what these crazy things were. I had to read and re-read the recipe before understanding how these pops got done. They're made of cheesecake, but there's more to them. They look like lollipops, but that isn't what they are. They need to be frozen, but they are not icecream. They're a crazy olio of dessert techniques leading up to these really fun looking finger foods! Crazy, eh? There's a DB challenge for you :)
This month's challenge was organized by Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasm) and Deborah (Taste and Tell)- they picked these funky cheesecake pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor. Seriously, this is the perfect title for a book that has a recipe for cheesecake pops! They're gooey all right, was quite a bit messy assembling them, sticky - a bit ... chewy - somewhat :) I've never baked anything from this book before, now I'm totally intrigued about what other quirky recipes it contains!
These cheesecake pops make for the perfect party food. And given that tomorrow is Vodka's b'day, I decided to tailor these for him. A few pops got the prescribed chocolate dunk, but a few others were set aside for Vodka - they got a yummy crust of sliced almonds in a vodka-honey sauce. That's the tradition - for the 9th year running - the pooch gets a Vodka-based dessert on his birthday :)
This was actually a really simple and straightforward recipe - a basic cheesecake baked using a water bath. There is plenty of flexibility in the dipping flavours and colours which was fun! I ended up going for the traditional cheesecake balls instead of any fancy geometric shapes, but the fun started with the dipping and decorations. The first few got dunked in semisweet chocolate and topped with sprinkles - very festive! And then Vodka's preferences took over - which made for a big hit!
(based on Jill O'Connor's recipe from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey)
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.
Yes you can make some changes to this cheesecake as long as you promise to use the basic cheesecake recipe (although you can add a flavor to it if you like) and do keep it white (sorry, no chocolate or coffee or mocha), and keep the pops to the 2 ounce size.
The dipping flavors and colors are completely up to you.
If you want to use decorations, go for it. Same with drizzles and ribbons on the sticks. Or leave them plain after dipping them. You can even dip them in graham cracker crumbs and then the chocolate – to get more of the cheesecake feel to them.
You can cut the cheesecake into geometric shapes instead of making balls…triangles or squares or diamonds…just keep them about 2 ounces each. We can't wait to see what combinations our Daring Baker come up with…just make sure to use the basic cheesecake recipe, to make the pops 2 ounces or close to that in size, and to dip each pop in chocolate or confectionary coating and have it on a lollipop stick.
This isn't my typical kind of dessert, I'm not even a big cheesecake fan, but these things turned out pretty good! I was afraid the cheesecake was going to be super dense, but it was actually pretty light - probably courtesy of a couple of changes I made to the recipe - I used neufchatel cheese instead of regular cream cheese, I skipped the egg yolk and heavy cream in favour of a couple of tablespoons of silken tofu - these made for a much lighter cheesecake! Dipping the pops in chocolate was a cinch, rolling them in sprinkles and nuts was ... a piece of cake! :)
The best part of it all was that Vodka absolutely loved his treats and then sat around licking his chops for a while after! :)
Thanks, Elle & Deborah for this really really fun challenge. I had a blast and Vodka is thrilled to bits - nothing like making a pooch happy on his birthday!
And now it is time for me to stay up all night checking out all the other awesome DB posts!