Cheesecake on a stick! How fun is that? I love cheesecake any way I can get it and few desserts in this world capture my imagination more than a rich, luscious, baked cheesecake. If I order dessert in a restaurant, it's likely to be cheesecake, and I love sampling all the flavors at The Cheesecake Factory. But I do have a dirty little secret to share...I haven't made one in several years (which is why you've never seen one on this blog) because I have no self control when it comes to cheesecake. If I make a cheesecake, especially one with booze or tricked out with all sorts of extra yummies like chocolate and caramel, you might as well slap a "Wide Load" sign on my behind because I'm done for. I did eventually realize I could make a full size batch but bake it in mini or half-size pans or muffin tins and freeze the extra or share with friends, and that helped my addiction. Somewhat.
I knew The Daring Bakers would eventually tackle cheesecakes in some form, and I got very excited when I saw this month's challenge was cheesecake pops because they were a perfect mini size and they are so adorable! Of course we had to follow all the regular rules, but as always we were given some leeway for creativity. We could substitute another flavor for the vanilla extract and we could use whatever type of chocolate and decorations we liked. The pops just had to be made with the basic cheesecake recipe, rolled into 2-ounce balls, dipped in chocolate, and served on a stick. For my variations, I chose to flavor the cheesecake with Kahlua and rolled the coated pops in hazelnuts, toffee bits, and even sprinkles just for the kids.
The recipe comes from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, a fun dessert book by Jill O'Connor. I shared the pops with all the neighbors at an impromptu pizza party out in the cul-de-sac one evening last week and they were a hit. As expected, all the kids wanted the pops with sprinkles!
I was pretty confident going into this challenge since I had plenty of cheesecake experience under my belt, but I did know some bakers had said the cake would not set up, and as it turns out I had the same problem. You would think after a year in this house I would have the oven figured out already, but it still keeps me guessing. My oven thermometer says the oven is accurate but it almost always takes the maximum suggested time to cook anything, often more, and this baby was definitely not ready after 45 minutes. I pulled it out when it looked like the edges were getting a little too done, though the middle looked appropriately wobbly. I let it cool completely and chilled it before attempting to scoop, but it was still loose in the middle, though not runny.
I had to work fast while rolling the balls and I popped them into the freezer right away with the sticks already in. They sat in there for about 24 hours before I had a chance to go back to them, so they were well frozen. For the chocolate I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet chips. I had planned to add some espresso powder in the chocolate to carry on the coffee theme, but I forgot, so I'll have to try that next time. I should have enrobed the balls in chocolate all the way up to the stick, but I wasn't thinking clearly late at night when I finished these up. With the chocolate clinging to the stick, that would have helped keep the balls in place while eating. After coating all the pops, I put them back in the freezer, and we ate them frozen. We really liked them frozen as it was like eating a really rich popsicle.
One thing I definitely did wrong was estimating the proper size. The recipe states 2-ounces of cheesecake for each pop, and I thought my #60 scoop (small, 2 teaspoons) would be just right, but I realized that was not so when I had 32 balls on the tray and half the cheesecake left! As it turns out we liked the small size for such a rich dessert, though next time I might use the #40 scoop (medium, 1-½ tablespoons) instead. That might be just a bit smaller than called for, but close enough.
So now that I had all this cheesecake leftover I had to decide what to do with it! I finished scooping it all out with the #60 scoop and put them into mini muffin pans, then covered them with plastic wrap and foil. They are sitting in my freezer waiting for another opportunity to enjoy cheesecake pops, or even a cheesecake sundae! I made fudge sauce from more of the Ghirardelli chocolate and heavy cream, then floated a frozen cheesecake ball on it and sprinkled crushed hazelnuts and toffee bits on top. Oh, was that heavenly!
Thanks to Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah of Taste and Tell for choosing such a fun and delicious challenge for us! To see all the other cheesecake pops, head on over to The Daring Bakers Blogroll.
If you have never made a cheesecake before, I highly recommend an article called Perfect Cheesecakes written by the staff at Allrecipes. It's full of great tips.
- stand mixer with paddle attachment
- 10-inch cake pan, greased (You can use a springform pan if necessary, just make sure to line it completely with foil to keep the pan from leaking. Spray the foil lightly with cooking spray.)
- large roasting pan (large enough to hold the cake pan)
- #40 cookie scoop (medium) (#60 if you want the smaller balls)
- 30 to 40 (8-inch) lollipop sticks (60 or more if you make the smaller balls)
- half sheet pan, lined with parchment or wax paper or a silicon mat
- double boiler or medium glass bowl
- 40 ounces cream cheese (5 8-ounce packages, not light or fat free, room temperature)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or brown rice flour)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons Kahlua (or pure vanilla extract)
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 pound chocolate (finely chopped)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- several cups of boiling water (for the waterbath)
- colored sprinkles
- finely chopped hazelnuts
- toffee bits
- CHEESECAKE: Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325° F. Set some water to boil.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt on low speed until smooth. 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 the large 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. (I can't guarantee the accuracy of this cooking time. My cake was definitely not set after 45 minutes. A number of Daring Bakers reported 60 minutes or more for cooking times. Make sure the water is boiling hot before pouring it into the roasting pan, and keep an eye on the cake while it bakes.)
- 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 overnight.
- MAKE THE BALLS: When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on the wax 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.
- CHOCOLATE: When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate using the stovetop method or the microwave method. STOVETOP: 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. MICROWAVE: Put half the chocolate and half the shortening in the glass bowl. Microwave on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
- Dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. Roll the pops quickly in the 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 wax paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening as needed.
- Refrigerate or freeze the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.
- Chocolate - Use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white. You can also 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.
- Decorations - chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees