April Daring Bakers: Cheesecake Pops!!
Yes, I don’t think of these as mere cheesecake pops — I say “cheesecake pops!!!” every time I eat one. What a cute idea for this month’s Daring Bakers challenge! I’ve been enamored of the dessert pop idea ever since I saw Bakerella’s cupcake pops (aren’t those amazing?), and I was thrilled to have these as my second DB challenge.
The pops are a New York-style cheesecake — smooth and creamy — rolled into balls and coated with melted chocolate. According to the rules for this month’s challenge, we had leeway as far as flavoring the cheesecake (though it had to remain white), as well as what we used to decorate the pops. I divided my batch of cheesecake batter in two and made half raspberry-flavored (with Chambord) and the other half hazelnut flavored (with an organic hazelnut extract.) I rolled both kinds of pops in dark chocolate, and then drizzled white chocolate over the raspberry pops and rolled the hazelnut pops in finely chopped toasted hazelnuts. They were really delicious, and I’ve been keeping ours in the freezer…which makes them OH so good. Like frozen chocolate-covered cheesecake! We’ve been having some every night for the past week; no one is complaining.
Here’s how the cheesecake pop adventure unfolded:
The batter had five whole blocks of cream cheese in it (yes, it was super creamy) — it proved to be quite the task for my Kitchenaid mixer, volume-wise!
You know how it’s generally not a good idea to get distracted when baking? Baking requires some level of precision and following-directions-to-the-letter. Well, I got distracted at this point. I was trying to do something else at the same time, and when I saw that the mixing was slow-going, I just turned up the speed on the mixer so it beat the ingredients into submission.
Then I looked at the directions and read “if using a mixer, mix on low speed.”
Well, it was too late at that point, and everything looked fine and smooth, if a bit voluminous.
At this point, I divided the batter into two bowls. Into one bowl, I mixed some Chambord extract; into the other, I added the hazelnut extract. (On a side note…isn’t the design of the Chambord bottle just delightfully gaudy? Look at all that plastic faux-gold!)
Now here’s where I think my failure to “mix on low speed” might have come into play: the recipe directions instructed us to bake the cheesecake batter in a 10-inch cake pan. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just use my two trusty 5-inch pans, pouring half the batter in each.” Should work perfectly, right? Well, let this be a lesson learned to me, if you beat cheesecake at high speed you will end up with more volume than fits into a single 10-inch (or two 5-inch) pans. After I scraped as much as would fit into my 5-inch pans, I just mixed the remaining batter together and baked it off in a separate pan at a later point.
The recipe instructed us to use a water bath to bake the cheesecakes: this method allows them to cook more gently, and provides more moisture for them while baking. In the past I’ve used water baths to bake cheesecakes, but it’s been in conjunction with a foil-wrapped springform pan, and I’ve always had some water seepage into the bottom of the cheesecake. Baking the cheesecakes in solid cake pans obviously avoided that problem.
Though my cheesecakes took a bit longer to firm up sufficiently than the directions stated it would take (60 minutes instead of the 35-45 minutes listed in the recipe), they still turned out nicely.
I refrigerated my cheesecake overnight, and the next day, scooped out 2-ounce chunks and rolled them into balls. This was fun, but kind of messy — the cheesecake was super creamy, and though the cheesecake around the edges of the pans was a bit firmer and rolled pretty well, the cheesecake from the center was a challenge to roll into a nicely shaped sphere. They ended up being golf ball-sized, and some of mine (the ones rolled from the center cheesecake) looked more like flying saucers than perfect spheres.
The balls went onto a parchment-lined sheet, at which point I stuck lollipop sticks into them. Now they were starting to look like pops! Into the freezer they went for a nice cooldown before they were to be rolled in melted chocolate. I ended up leaving mine in the freezer overnight, which worked out well for rolling them — they were really frozen and easy to roll in the warm chocolate without melting.
I chose to melt some dark chocolate to dip my pops into, and though the recipe instructed us to melt some solid vegetable shortening into the chocolate to help with “snap,” I do not keep that stuff in my house — so as some other shortening-averse DBers did, I substituted canola oil, and it seemed to work pretty well in creating a nice snap when you bit into the chocolate coating.
Here I am ready to roll: I had my bowl of melted dark chocolate, a little bowl of melted white chocolate, and a bowl of chopped toasted hazelnuts. Since the pops were solidly frozen, the melted dark chocolate firmed up almost instantly after dipping them.
For the raspberry pops, I used a fork to drizzle melted white chocolate over the dark chocolate coating. They got dressed up for the picture with a raspberry-colored ribbon.
I rolled the hazelnut pops immediately in the chopped hazelnuts after twirling them in the melted dark chocolate. And these got gussied up with a turquoise and chocolate-brown ribbon (my favorite color combo.)
At this point, I stuck them back into the freezer to harden up again. It was a nice, sunny (i.e. warm in the kitchen) afternoon when I made these, so I figured a frozen pop would be pretty refreshing, and oh boy, were they.
It should be really interesting to see what other flavor and decoration combinations others did for this challenge! Thanks, Elle and Deborah, for choosing such a fun challenge! You can check out the other cheesecake pops via the Daring Bakers Blogroll. The original cheesecake pop recipe is listed below as it was given to us, and I’ve noted my customizations in blue. Enjoy!
From Sticky, Gooey, Messy, Chewy 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 [I divided the batter in two, and used 1 teaspoon Chambord in one half, and 1 teaspoon organic hazelnut extract in the other]
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.) [I used all dark chocolate]
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening [I substituted canola oil]
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) – Optional [I used melted white chocolate and chopped toasted hazelnuts]
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.