Sunday, April 27, 2008

Popping Goodness!

Like clockwork, daring bakers know when it is the end of the month. A stirring within bubbles into excitement and voila---a few pounds heavier and a blog later, we come together in cybercelebration.

I never really liked lollipops. Hard sugar candies, even on a stick just did not appeal to me. But when I saw this month’s challenge, I thought, now who would not like cheesecake lollies?

This cheesecake was particularly easy to bake. I halved the recipe and baked it in a square 8” pan. It took a little over 40 minutes to bake through. After 24 hours, I used a square and round cutter to make my pops. I wanted bigger circular pops so I cut them in half just so they wouldn’t be too heavy.

When they were ready to be enrobed in chocolate, I melted some white chocolate chips. They didn’t have the right consistency though so after coating one, I gave up. For the dark chocolate, I decided to use couverture to ensure the quality. Initially it melted beautifully then dried up so I guess I over heated the chocolate. I added more dark chocolate and it was much better.

I wasn’t sure how to decorate my pops and I didn’t have much time to do so either as it was midnight and I was going to the beach very early the next morning. I tried using cake glitter but that melted right away. I used sprinkles for a festive feel but I still wanted to do something a little different. I decided to do monogrammed pops! We were two couples going to the beach and I wanted to bring some for dessert. So using gold dust, I painted a P, two Js and an O. It was so cute---crude but cute! With all the computer work i do, i no longer have a steady painting hand. Unfortunately, the chocolate was sweating and I had to work fast. I tried a few more patterns, stripes, card suits and a flower. I have to practice  a bit more before I can post a picture I'm proud of!

The next day, everyone enjoyed the pops, amazed to find cheesecake inside. Two of the monograms got damaged during the transport but still, they made waves in the beach!

Thanks to Elle of Feeding my Enthusiasms and Deborah of Taste and Tell for a great theme for april!

Cheesecake Pops

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.

Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor