April 27, 2008

There Should be More Foods on Sticks

Portable food doesn't get enough credit. While it may seem a bit tedious, it is quite smart to offer food on a stick for a number of reasons. Smaller usually means cuter. You can get a sampling of something without committing to a traditional serving size. And, you don't need a plate or utensils.

This month's Daring Bakers recipe came from our hosts Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah from Taste and Tell. They challenged us to use a specific cheesecake pop recipe and put our personal stamp on the decorating. It's almost as if we all get the same simple canvas to start and we can create the art that best fits our personality.

My biggest obstacle was figuring out how to shape the pops without making a mess of them, as well as come up with a creative way to decorate them. I decided to cut these into cubes for a more structural feel. For dipping, I used a combination of dark chocolate and white chocolate that I made light pink. Embellishments included chocolate jimmies, pink large dragees and large confetti sprinkles. My favorite combination was a two-toned version. First, I dipped about 3/4 of the cheesecake in the chocolate. I popped them in the freezer for about 5 minutes, then dipped it about 1/4 of the way into the light pink. I topped it off with chocolate jimmies. The result resembled a whimsical cupcake.

I admit that I probably would never have selected a recipe like this on my own. However, after making this one, I would definitely do it again. It was a lot of fun and allowed for personal expression. Thanks to Elle and Deborah for a challenge that made me feel like a kid again.

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, confectionery coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate. White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
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 confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! I'm so in love with the pics of the pops in the flowers!!! SO CUTE! Great job!

Michele said...

Wow... I love your cheesecake pops! They turned out great! You have a keen eye for presentation. I'm so impressed!

I made mine square-ish as well. I love your whimsical cupcake- it's darling.



Anonymous said...

Oh, wow! Yours are so pretty & happy looking. Great job!

xoxox Amy

chrismacd1 said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Madam Chow said...

OMG, these are TOO cute! You did a fantastic job!

PheMom said...

Your cheesecake pops turned out awesome. I love how clean they look - mine were big gobs of mess. I love your pictures.

Elle said...

Glad you had fun. Your pops are darling! Love the photo with the pops and the daisys...super cute!

Gretchen Noelle said...

These are absolutely adorable! I love the spring like feel of them all...but especially the polka dot ones! Great job!

April said...

Your pops look really cute and girly!!

Barbara said...

Your pops are beautiful, among the best ones I've seen so far. Great job.

marion - il en faut peu pour ... said...

what nice spring cheesecake pops !!!
congratulation for this very good job this month :)

Dolores said...

Your cheesecake pops look great. I also loved this challenge for the chance to go back and play with food like a kid again.