I don't really like cheesecake. There, I said it. I'm just not a fan of cream cheese especially when it's the star of the dish like with cheesecake. But even so, I make cheesecake pretty often since everyone else seems to love cheesecake. Also, cheesecake is one of those easy-to-make-little-effort-big-wow-factor desserts. I'm always a big fan of easy, especially lately as I've been too lazy to bake and totally neglecting my blog. But since cheesecake is so easy and Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah of Taste and Tell chose cheesecake pops for this month's Daring Baker challenge, I got off my a$$ to join the challenge.
The original recipe for these cheesecake pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor makes a whole lot of cheesecake. Too much if you ask me. Of course some would say that you can never have too much cheesecake. I made only 2/5 of the original quantity since I only had 16 ounces of cream cheese. Well, truth be told, I only had 8 ounces of Philly, but I also had 8 ounces of mascarpone which is like cream cheese but creamier and richer and definitely much less tangy than regular cream cheese. Because I was using 50% mascarpone in my 2/5 recipe, I omitted the heavy cream since I was afraid the batter would be too runny and not set up correctly. (Baking tip: Cream cheese plus heavy cream is a decent substitute for mascarpone in some recipes. So I figured that the opposite would be true too which is why I left out the heavy cream.)
I baked my cheesecake in ramekins that were deep enough to scoop out balls of cheesecake. Each ramekin has a 6 fluid ounce capacity and I got 3 walnut sized balls per ramekin. The resulting cheesecake was super creamy and even better when dipped in chocolate. I have to admit that they were pretty good. Maybe I've become a cheesecake convert? Well, I wouldn't go that far. But that's the power of the Daring Bakers. Like I say with every month's DB challenge, step outside of the box and discover or learn something new. I discovered that I like the 50/50 combination of cream cheese and mascarpone for making cheesecakes and I learned that bamboo skewers are not a good substitute for lollipop sticks. No matter how clean the cut is, you'll still get splinters.
(makes 30 – 40 pops)
(from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor)
5 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temp
2 cups granulated 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
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 its 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 as needed.
Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.