Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Cheesecake is Cool, My Cheesecake be Poppin'


They're popping, they're popping!

(Let me preface by saying that I'm a raging nerd for just linking to this song. What it's doing on my ipod is a mystery. I was trying to come up with a title to this entry, and I couldn't shake the lyrics. Hey, it's catchy!)

Welcome to the April Daring Bakers Challenge - Cheesecake Pops! Elle and Deborah are our hostesses, and I could reach through the computer and hug them! I was so excited about this challenge that I got to planning my pop flavorings out right away. This is a vast departure for me, because I almost always wait until the last minute to complete my challenge (and thusly, because I am in a frenzied panic, I am rarely creative.) Cheesecake and graham crackers are friends, but I wanted to pop it in less traditional ways. I split the cheesecake batter into three different 9-inch round cake pans and flavored each differently.

I will lead with my favorite. Of this pop, there was only one. It was something spontaneous and interesting, but turned out to rather tricky. What you see to the left is a vanilla cheesecake pop, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with a crushed Honey Drop. I processed the drop in my mini-chopper and sprinkled the bits onto the pop. I had hoped that the drop crumbles would be something I could dip into, but they were too busy sticking to each other to latch on to the chocolate. I had a tray of pops before me, so I moved on to the peanut butter pops. I wish had persevered, because the honey/chocolate/cheesecake combination was so, so amazing. Honibe's Honey Drops have such a delicate honey flavor, and the sprinkles imparted a soft sweetness to the lush creaminess of the cheesecake and chocolate.

For my second pop, my goal was chocolate banana pudding on a stick. I flavored the cheesecake itself with banana essence. Once dipped, I placed each pop on a nilla wafer and called it a day! Dave thinks I'm nuts, but they remind me of a little French girl once picked up. (Yanno, with the jaunty beret!)






You see it, too, don't you?





The flavoring I am most proud of, and the one that caused me the most anxiety, is the strawberry balsamic pop. I knew I could do it, but would it be as delicious as I'd hoped? I flavored the chocolate with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Once dipped, each vanilla pop went into a bowl of crushed freeze-dried strawberries (Yeah, astronaut food!) These inside-out chocolate-dipped strawberries exceeded my expectations. The sweetness of the balsamic vinegar paired perfectly with the strawberries.

Last but not least, and Dave's favorite, are the peanut-dipped pops. I tried to flavor the cheesecake with peanut butter essence, but it didn't seem to take. I couldn't tell the difference between it and the plain vanilla cheesecake. I tried to make up for that by adding some peanut butter to the melted chocolate, which seemed to do the trick. Rolled in peanuts, these little beauties had the right balance of creamy AND crunchy. They were by far the easiest to make and the most universally approved of. I think these would have been great with almonds or pistachios, too.


I couldn't be happier with the outcome of this challenge. Sure, it took me three days, but it was well worth it. These pops would be awesome for a party or shower, and at the very least, they made my husband and coworkers very happy.

Big pop props to Deborah and Elle - thank you for a fantastic challenge!

For 1000 other pops, click over to the Daring Bakers Blogroll!


Cheesecake Pops
from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor
http://www.amazon.com/Sticky-Chewy-Messy-Gooey-Desserts/dp/081185566X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1209261000&sr=8-1

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.

58 comments:

Deborah said...

You are so creative! I've never had a honey drop, but I'm going to be looking for them now!

Kim said...

Very creative, and it was a fun challenge. Myself included on the honey drop, never heard of them.

HoneyB said...

Oh, the strawberry balsamic sounds delish! I've never seen a honey drop before either! Thanks for the link on them! Great job!

Bellini Valli said...

Yes I do see the french baret. What an imaginative array of flavours. Great job on the DB challenge this month:D

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Totally LOVE you flavor combos! Am going to add them to my list of ways to try this!
Such a fun challenge don't you think? So Challenge is FUN!

Tartelette said...

Love the idea of the vanila wafer..beret...eheheh!!! And te freeze dried strawberry idea? Brilliant! Great job Katie!!

Nemmie said...

Those are some rockin' flavors, girlie! I want one of the strawberry balsamic ones baaaaad.

myriam said...

good job my girl, creative as always.

glamah16 said...

I love the Banana pudding version with the wafer. How creative.

farida said...

Cute looking pops! And so many variations! Great job. I would like to try the Honey drop one please:)

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

The different coatings look and sound fantastic, very well done!

Lis said...

Way to go, Katie! They all look and sound good, but I gotta have one (or a 1/2 dozen) of the balsamic strawberry pops! YUM!

Beautiful job!

xoxo

Shandy said...

I can't believe just how creative youare with flavors! I am so impressed! Great combinations and your cheesecake pops are adorable! Great challenge and thank you for the inspiring ideas. =D

Kristen said...

Katie you crack me up!

Very creative indeed... especially your little French girls, I mean banana pudding cheesecake pops :)

Laurie said...

Wow..the strawberry balsamic sounds awesome! Beautifully done!

L Vanel said...

Katie, you were so creative! Gorgeous.

maybahay said...

what great idea for flavours. great looking pops!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Great ideas you came up with for flavorings! They all sound so interesting. And daring!

Faery said...

You are sooo creative, they all look yummy and the ones with strawberry sound like a delicious combination

Veron said...

wow all those flavors! I'd love to try the strawberry balsamic.

Andrea said...

Wow, you came up with some very creative combinations! Great job!

Brilynn said...

That song is the annoying type that gets stuck in your head... but those pops look fantastic!

maybelles mom said...

love the idea of the honey drop and the nilla wafers.

Claire said...

What fun with all your variations! I can see the French girl! That one sounds great. Wonderful job...wish I could have done it, but didn't have freezing ability.

Cakelaw said...

Hello Katie B, your pops are very cute. I do agree that the nilla wafer ones look like l'il French girls wearing berets - so cute.

chrismacd1 said...

Very creative! The strawberry one is my favorite!

The Food Librarian said...

What wonderfully creative flavors! They look delicious too!

Lunch Buckets said...

Don't you know?

There can only be one. (said in a deep voice w/ foreboding tone)

Yeah, catch ya at the next nerd convention!

Gigi said...

wow, great combos for flavors. you're very creative. i loved them all.

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Pretty pretty pretty...love each of them! How very creative of you; this was such fun! I think I love the balsamic strawberry the mostest!!!

KayKat said...

I love the idea of the wafer - bet that tasted awesome :)

Aran said...

Cool ideas!

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a fabulous job. My favorite would be the banana flavored one with vanilla wafers. Sounds simply divine.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Megan said...

I'll take the strawberry ones! I would of never thought balsomic vineger

Susan said...

Very creative coatings! Yes, I can totally see the beret.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

You are very creative! I love you lollipops! They look ever so delicious! Very well done...

Cheers,

Rosa

Katie said...

Banana, chocolate, and vanilla wafers, awesome idea!

Em said...

Such creative combinations - great job!!

Rosie said...

WOW what wonderful flavours you have going on here!! Great job :)

The writer and the singer said...

Wow! Talk about creative and yummy. Next time I'm going to have more stuff to dip mine in....I need to check out those honey drops. Good job!

tricia said...

i was so wanting to try adding flavors to the chocolate but i was paranoid about it messing up the 'setting' of the chocolate. the hubster would have loooooved peanut butter. next time i'll be more daring! (groan! I know!)

jj said...

Wow, very creative, loved viewing all your great ideas for the cheesecake pops!

Cakespy said...

I love the banana one!! You are so creative and awesome!! Love it love it love it!

Amy J. said...

Omigosh, honey drops?! Balsamic-flavored chocolate?! Little French beret pops?! Oui oui, c'est magnifique!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Great pops! I love how creative you got with the flavor combinations. I totally see that French beret.

culinography said...

Mmmmm... pass a strawberry balsamic pop my way, please!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Check you out! Those are some crazy creative pops! I love the one with the "beret". She was always my favorite. I can't believe you used those strawberries. We have a tub of those in our pantry. We put them on cereal. It never occurred to me to use something like that. Great job!

Jen Yu said...

Oh my goodness, your pops are so incredibly creative! I am really impressed with all of the combos, especially the balsamic with chocolate!! Great job - they're beautiful!

Sara said...

Wow, you came up with some really great combos!

Jaime said...

strawberry balsamic? how cool! i wish i had had more time to do this challenge :)

Felicia said...

Chocolate banana pudding on a stick? Fabulous :)

cookworm said...

I love all your clever ideas for dipping. Well done!

Lynnylu said...

It's cool you tried all the different flavorings. They look great!

RecipeGirl said...

Wow, you were super creative with the flavors! They all sound so good. What is essence though? Some sort of extract?

Amy said...

Wow the strawberry balsamic one is really cool! I bet they all tasted delish.

creampuff said...

Your pops are poppin' indeed!

Flanboyant Eats said...

girl, i'm making this for my sis and bro! oh my goodness.. how freaking' cute, great, and everything in between!!!

Dolores said...

I've spent almost a month reading and commenting on pop posts, and you'd think at this point I'd have just about seen it all. But not so the Daring Bakers. The honey drop, the chocolate banana beret... your pops are a whole new world of creative. Great job!