Daring Bakers Challenge April 2008
It's been a bit quiet around here, I know! Thanks to everyone who have mailed me, concerned if all is well or not. Yes, all is well here. I've just been enjoying the great weather we're having here. Spending my afternoons with Soeren, going for bike rides or gardening. The evenings were spent with neighbors and friends outside on the terrace, sipping wine and counting stars. I just took a spontaneous break from blogging.
However, today I had to come on over and celebrate my 1st birthday with everyone!
Yeah - one whole year of being a Daring Baker! I joined this amazing group last April, when the group was still small and I was able to comment on everyone's posts. My first challenge was a looker too - the amazing Chocolate Crepe Cake. After that there was no looking back. The group's popularity grew and so did the number of members. I have to be honest, I have lost count but I am guessing we are breaking the 1000 mark! I really want to thank Ivonne, who lovingly persuaded me to join the group, and Lisa whose energy motivates me to extreme extents. These two lovely girls are the founders of the Daring Bakers group. A huge thank you also goes out to many of the members who spend so much time helping those of us who have 1001 questions each month regarding the challenges. I am thinking about people like Helene and Pea, just to name two of the many. Without your help I am sure many of us would fail miserably.
When I read this month's challenge I really had to smile. It could not have been more fitting to celebrate my 1st Daring Bakers birthday. Cheesecake Pops chosen by our gorgeous hostesses this month, Deborah of Taste and Tell and Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasm from a book that sounds like a real lot of fun: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O'Connor.
However, when I got all the ingredients together I was thinking "Whoa! That is a lot of cream cheese!" There is also no butter in the recipe and a closer look at the method showed that it was very different to the cheesecake I make. The recipe called for the cheesecake to be baked in a water bath which really intrigued me as I have never baked cheesecake in this fashion before. I was expecting a lovely light and fluffy cheesecake. Once out of the oven we were supposed to cool for a few hours and then scoop balls out of it. I left my cheesecake forms in the fridge overnight and was a little disappointed the next day when it was not very firm as it should have been. So, what to do? I formed the balls as best as I could and froze them. The rest was pretty straightforward. Melting chocolate and coating with nuts. I wanted to do something a bit more with the chocolate coating so I added an aromatic sprinkling of cinnamon to the melted milk chocolate. Pistachios and hazelnut brittle were used to coat these. I also made a second batch with white chocolate, which I then divided in half, adding a few drops of natural red food coloring and raspberry flavoring to one half. As I did not have lollipop sticks I used a few nice looking shashlik sticks, the ones coated with white chocolate were left without and served like pralines.
I think these would certainly make great party treats at kids birthday parties, although they are quite heavy. Making the balls small and bite-sized it the best way to go here. The fact that I have to keep them in the freezer is not so bad. Whenever we want a little treat I take them out about 30 minutes prior to eating.
(adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O'Connor)
Printable version of recipe here.
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
1 vanilla bean, seeded
¼ cup heavy cream
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.
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, chopped or in chips
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.
When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake 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 to 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 paperlined 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.
They were good. But I think there can be a lot more done with this recipe. The kids loved it, which is not surprising. Although Tom and I found this a great and different type of dessert, I thought they were too sweet and bit heavy.
Would I make this again?
I like the idea behind this recipe. However, I think the next time I make this I might use my own cheesecake recipe. I expected this to be fluffy as it was baked in a water bath, but it was more on the soggier side. Maybe I should have cooked it longer, who knows. I do think I will make this again adding a bit more flavor to the cheesecake and playing around with it. A great idea for Soeren's birthday this summer.
What did I learn from this challenge?
Fun! That was the main part with this challenge. Making cheesecake in a water bath was quite interesting and although it did not work out 100% well I still like the basic idea.
Twelve wonderful challenges to boast about - boy do I feel good!
The previous challenges
April 2007: Chocolate Crepe Cake
May 2007: Gâteau Saint-Honoré
June 2007: Real Honest Jewish Purists Bagels
July 2007: Strawberry Mirror Cake
August 2007: Chocolate Caramel Tart
September 2007: Sticky Cinnamon Buns
October 2007: Bostini Cream Pie
November 2007: Tender Potato Focaccia and Bread Rolls
December 2007: Bûche de Noël/Yule Log
January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie
February 2008: French Baguette
March 2008: The Perfect Party Cake
Thanks to Deborah and Elle for being such fantastic hostesses. Now I am off to check out a few of the other colorful and bright cheesecake pops. Care to join me? Check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll for more.
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