Sunday, 27 April 2008

Cheesecake Pops - Daring Bakers

This months challenge is rather special for me for two reasons. Firstly, the hosts for this month are Elle and Deborah. So what's so special about that? Well, when I joined the DB's back in July 2007, Elle was one of the first DBers to visit my blog and welcome me aboard. Not only that, but we soon became foodie buddies! I only wish I had more time to get to know more of you.

Secondly, When I first saw the challenge for this month, my thoughts immediately went back to about 9 years ago. I had gone to Cincinnati, on work, for about a week. One night, we were all hosted to dinner at this supposedly famous restaurant on the outskirts of Cinci(I cant recall the name). The restaurant was famous not only for its buffet spread but for the video games that abounded all over. What has this got to do with the DB challenge? Well, you see, there was this dessert on the dessert table that looked like a chocolate covered ice cream on a stick. It was triangular in shape, had this dark chocolate covering and of course an ice-cream stick (what the Americans would call a popsicle stick) coming out of it. I of course took one and as I bit into it, I realised it was not ice-cream but a delicious, creamy cheesecake! I swear it was so good that I went back and had another one… or maybe it was another two (I’m not ashamed to admit and show my greedy side to you all!). I cant quite remember how many of those choc covered cheesecakes on sticks I ate. All I do remember is that this was one of the best desserts I had ever tasted.

I also remember telling The Lovely Wife when I returned how awesome the dessert was. She doesn’t remember me telling her any such thing though…

So, now at least I know that this delicious dessert is called Cheesecake Pops. So you see, memories are always special and something that triggers a wonderful memory is even more special!

I was very excited to see this recipe and promptly decided to jump into making it. 4th of April was the date I started on this challenge which makes this the EARLIEST I have ever attempted a DB challenge.

Anyway, this is how it went. On the 4th evening, I started this challenge. I've had experience with Cheesecakes and a Water Bath before so that didn't frazzle me. The Cheese batter came together very nicely and although the recipe called for a 10" pan it didn't specify the shape. I used a 9" Square pan and still had quite a bit of batter left over so I baked another small dome.

I baked the cheesecake for about 45 minutes and it came out just slightly golden on the top. I regret not taking pictures but I was kind of tired and Friday nights is when the kids are allowed to stay up late and play - and they want to play with Daddy too!

The kids enjoyed the smells wafting out from the kitchen and I must admit, I had a hard time not trying to sample the cheesecake while it was cooling. After it cooled, I chucked it into the fridge to let it firm up overnight. Then it was time to go to bed.

The next morning, I took the cheesecake out. It had been in the fridge for just over 8 hours and seemed like it was nice and firm. Experience has taught me that a cheesecake needs to be cut with a knife dipped in warm water but we all ignore what we have learnt don't we! Somehow, I expected that the cheesecake would be really firm and hard - dont ask me why, but that's what I expected from the way the recipe was worded. I should have known that it wouldnt be so hard and firm coz the pops that I had eaten in Cinci were delightfully creamy inside.

So anyway, that's my reason (and excuse) for my rather 'ugly' shaped pops. I tried rolling one or two with my hands and although I did get lovely balls, I figured that I'd just cut them into rectangles and triangular shapes. I know, I know, the recipe stated 2oz sized balls but I figured eating a larger shape was what I really wanted!

In preparation for this challenge, I had looked all over for Ice Cream sticks, as you can't find lollipop sticks here (unless you want to eat a whole bunch of lollies). I finally found Ice Cream Sticks in an art and craft store. I also bought a set of plastic cocktail sticks and used both the cocktail sticks as well as the ice cream sticks. Into the freezer the pops went and I left them there for about 3.5 hours.

I used good quality Dark Chocolate mixed with a little shortening - just like the recipe said. The taste was still fantastic and the 'snap' was there - just like tempered chocolate but without having to temper it. Good thing too since the last time I tried to temper chocolate, I got into quite a temper. Me that is, and not the chocolate. But I suppose you've heard this kind of joke too often...

I didnt have much space in my fridge so what I did was to clear the freezer and put the trays in there for a little while for everything to harden. Then I packed the pops into tupperwares and I could now store them in the fridge!

Oh, and I had these great ideas of coating the pops in nuts, in sprinkles, of piping milk chocolate over the dark chocolate, dusting them with snow powder, so many wonderful ideas. But I didn't get round to doing it coz as soon as I had covered them in chocolate, I realised that I would need to have the sprinkles and nuts ready - and I didnt have those ready did I?

My way of rationalising my 'failure to decorate' is simply that chocolate with sprinkles or anything else would be akin to 'contaminating' the chocolate. Pretty good excuse dont you think?!!! :)

The Cheese Pops were absolutely, fantabulously, stupendously tasty! As good as I remember having them in Cinci - actually better! The cheesecake was lovely and creamy and almost melt in the mouth.

My official tasters loved it. My daughter especially since she loves cheesecake. The Lovely Wife thought they were wonderfully decadent although perhaps a tad too rich. She also thought that my sizing was a little on the large size.

I took a whole bunch of the pops to work and they were a hit. Everyone thoroughly enojoyed them. More than enjoyed them actually! Chocolate Covered Cheesecake on ice cream sticks is not quite the norm over here so to say that they were a hit would be a real understatement!!

I'd like to know though exactly how firm the cheesecake is supposed to be. Should it have cut cleanly with a sharp knife or should I have used a knife dipped in warm water like a normal cheesecake? Or is it possible that the cheesecake should have been cooked longer than what the recipe stated?

I'd like to see how everyone else fared with this recipe and if you are interested, check out the rest of the Daring Bakers at the official Blogroll!

Thanks again to Elle and Deborah for this great challenge. One thing I do realise is that I need to stop being so lazy and try and decorate a bit...!

This is the recipe.

Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor.
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 160 degrees C. 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.


glamah16 said...

I think a lot of us had issues with the firmness and shaping. Nevertheless the taste was great and I can see by the looks of the children everyone was happy.

Bellini Valli said...

Everyone seemed to enjoy these so it was all worth it.I don't have a freezer so bowed out of this one I'm afraid. Too bad because they sound so good:D

Dolores said...

I'm with you Dharm... why spoil perfection with sprinkles! :)

Tartelette said...

Great job Dharm! They look perfect as they are and to see your children again makes me happy :)

KJ said...

Contaminating the chocolate with sprinkles - too funny :) :) A great excuse.

Your pops look delicious. And, YAAAY, everybody loved them. That's the most important thing.

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

They're having a blast Dharm, your 2 little darlings! Loved your read through-the wife is just like me; I can't remember a thing I've been told 6 months ago, leave alone 9 years ago! I'm glad the pops brought back memories!!:0)

Chris said...

the pictures with you children say it all....another challenge well done!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

They really don't need sprinkles. They look great and they are just really fun to enjoy. And it looks like your kids sure enjoyed them!!

Cakelaw said...

Hey, I'm with you - I cut mine into geometric shapes, which was far easier than the balls and less messy. These pops look great, and as the cheesecake was so devine, the bigger the better I say!

Admirer said...

Oh Dharm,

These look like ice-cream. Anyway they look absolutely delici.....ous. Yummmmmy....I would be concern with my waistline though.

maybahay said...

ahh, the joy of eating. i can see them in your kids' faces. great recipe, wasn't it? glad you enjoyed it.
i cooked my cheesecake a lot longer than recommended (70mins)and it cut firmly after 2 hours of cooling.

Dana McCauley said...

I like the size of cheesecake bites you made. I found the 2 oz size a bit big to finish. Somehow when cheesecake is on a stick, you feel compelled to eat it more quickly than when it is on a plate and you have a fork.

sunita said...

Aren't the cheesecake pops just yummy :-)My cheesecake took longer than the 35-45 minutes to firm up...your li'l ones are really enjoying themselves...

Christine said...

I think these are perfect without sprinkles! Great job and your kids look like they are enjoying them!

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a great job on your challenge Dharm.

Natalie @ Gltuen a Go Go

marye said...

LOL! You are hyserical. Great job...

jasmine said...

I must admit that because I only did a one brick (225g) recipe, and because I knew there was shaping to be done, I let it cook a wee bit longer than I normally would.

Normally I cook a cheesecake until the centre wobbles a bit, because by the time it's ready to eat it will be nicely set.


Lis said...

Simple and unadulterated is never a bad thing! And you're right.. there is no good reason to take away from the chocolate and the cheesecake. :D

Love the photos of the kids!!


toontz said...

From what I am reading on other blogs, you weren’t the only one with troubles. They got eaten and enjoyed, and that is what food is all about, right?

Deborah said...

How fun that it brought back such memories for you! Great job - I'm so glad they were enjoyed by all.

Jennywenny said...

Hi there,
They look like they were very well appreciated despite your disappointment with trying to shape them. I used a cookie scoop, although I think that would be bigger than you would like and I'd suggest a melon baller. Then I didnt get all icky, and they formed into nice little balls. Not totally spherical, but more domes. Hope that helps. I can see myself trying these again for a party!

Claire said...

I guess maybe I'm just lazy, but my freezer is full and I had no good way to firm these I didn't get to do this this time, though I did buy the ingredients! Looks great and your daughter looks like she is just loving it!

Susan said...

Your kids look like they're in heaven! I had to bake my cheesecake for about 80 minutes.

Jen Yu said...

Oh, I *love* the pictures of your children eating the pops! They are so cute :) I think you did a terrific job (I swore a lot while rolling the balls - so you were smarter than I was!) and I'm glad you could recapture a favorite dessert to boot!

Andrea said...

Your pops turned out great, and obviously your adorable taste testers loved them!

Jenny said...

My excuse for not decorating is that the chocolate dried much faster than I expected.

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

They were tasty huh!? I love Deborah, she's so lovely. I hear you! Your kids looked pleased as punch with this months challenge!

BC said...

With or without decorations, the pops were fantastic.

Jenny said...

Despite decorating mine with candies, I'm with you - those candies just got in the way of the chocolate and cheesecake flavors! So it wasn't an excuse, it was a well thought out, valid point!

marias23 said...

Ahhh, nothing wrong with some extra richness and decadence once a month, no?

~Amber~ said...

Great looking cheesecake pops, I am glad they were enjoyed by all. My cheesecake was actually quite firm but it baked for wellllll over an hour. Wonderful job.

Meeta said...

the firmness was definitely an issue with me too. but if you served me these i would gobble them all up before your adorable kids got a chance lol!

Christina said...

No matter what I'm cutting, be it cake, cheesecake, or pie, I always dip the knife in hot water and wipe it clean between slices. My cheesecake cooked perfectly, but it still stuck to the knife, though not as much had I not cleaned it.

Isn't great when a challenge has a special meaning for you? And sometimes it doesn't need to be decorated to still taste great.

Once again, your kids are absolutely adorable!

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

Cynthia said...

Cheese dipped in chocolate! You are a wicked man! :)

Anonymous said...

I always love seeing what you do, Dharm. Great story about the cheesecake pops!

Dana McCauley said...

Hey, I just noticed that Daily Tiffin is also one of your creations - I love that blog! (In fact, it's on my blog roll so that I can visit it often) I've told so many people about it so that they can see the great wealth of creative presentation ideas. I hope that all of your web endeavours are doing well.

Jade Is Green! said...

I had quiet a bit of problems with cutting the cheesecake too. I think I should have used floss instead but I ended up making balls (which proved to be just as hard). I love the pictures of your children. People enjoyed them and that's the main thing right?

SweetDesigns said...

Wonderful post!! I love that it brought back fond memories!! Your pops look great and were apparently well enjoyed ;)

creampuff said...


All you have to do is put your kids up on a post and that alone makes it the most adorable post! Add some cheesecake pops and you've got and it's just cuteness all over!


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