Saturday 26 April 2008

Cheesecake pops

After missing the last Daring Baker's challenge, I knew I couldn't miss this month's. Yet, procrastinator that I am, I didn't get started on this until the day before posting day. Thankfully, I had all the ingredients I needed in the fridge - including the lollipop sticks - so there was no need to make a midnight run to the grocery store.

When I first read through this month's challenge, I was seriously worried about my lack of freezer space. One of my major gripes about living in London is the lack of American style refrigerators. You know, the Sub-zero kind with huge double doors. So I'm insanely jealous of anyone who can actually fit a baking sheet into their freezer. I had to put my cheesecake pops into a small tupperware in order to freeze them, and even then, i had to take half of the things out of my freezer temporarily and put them in the fridge.

Despite the slight logistical challenge, I still managed to get the pops frozen enough to coat them with chocolate. Since I'm not a fan of shortening, I chose to use plain tempered chocolate instead. I wasn't quite sure how to get the chocolate to set up cleanly on the pops though so I'll be the first to admit that my cheesecake pops are not the prettiest. Still, as they say, don't judge a book by its cover, for the pops were delicious. To be honest, what I really enjoyed was the cheesecake - I didn't care as much for the chocolate coating. The next time I make a cheesecake though, I know exactly what recipe to turn to!

Cheesecake Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped
2 tbsp vegetable shortening

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.

Makes 30 – 40 Pops