I am so excited to be part of the April class of Daring Bakers. My first challenge was a mixture of old and new. I've made cheesecakes before, but it's been a while. I have a smashing lemon cheesecake recipe that was a hit during '06-'07, but I made it so often that I tired of it and stopped. I haven't made it in over a year, so my cheesecake skills are a little rusty. On the "new" side, I don't have a lot of experience with chocolate, so working with tempered chocolate is good practice for me.
Like Sharon's recent project, I made a mistake that proved to be quite fortuitous. Before I elaborate, here's the original recipe:
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 (can use various mixtures of dark, milk, white or use confectionary coatings), finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees - OptionalProcedure
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 (low speed on a mixer) together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream. Keep the speed low.
Grease a 10-inch cake pan, and pour the batter into it. 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 the chocolate and shortening, stirring often, until completely smooth. 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. Roll the pops quickly in decorations, if using. 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.
What did I do wrong? I lost my patience and accidentally overbaked. Note that the baking time is supposed to take 35-40 minutes. From a lot of reports from other DBs who had finished the challenge, the baking was taking much longer. I baked it for 45 minutes, only to find a creamy soup. I left it for another 30 minutes to find it firming, but still very loose. I glared at it, then set the timer for 30 more minutes and went to take a shower.
Yes, I know that's a mistake.
However, it did work out in my favor as the overbaking resulted in a firm consistency that required almost no refrigeration before scooping. It also didn't seem to affect the final product, as the cake was still quite creamy. So, I started scooping, put it in the fridge for 15 minutes after I reached the middle of the cake, and was able to freeze the pops right away.
The rules required that we follow the cheesecake recipe (exemption for allergies and dietary restrictions), but we could use whatever dip/decoration we wanted. As previously mentioned, I have a weakness for Cheesecake Factory's Adam's Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple. To recreate the flavors, I mixed peanut butter into the melted chocolate and dipped the pop in crushed Butterfingers.
Mixing the peanut butter was a bit of a gamble as I wasn't sure whether the chocolate would still harden into shells. I started with a half portion of the dip. Using my kitchen scale, I weighed out 5 oz. dark chocolate, then brought it up to 8 oz. with peanut butter. Add 1 tbsp. of shortening and melt the whole mixture in a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water. Luckily, it turned out beautifully.
The other change I made was the sticks. Instead of using lollipop sticks, I decided to use Pocky sticks. They're edible and fun. Hehe.
Two downsides: chocolate melting on the fingers and the sticks not being too strong. I have a lot of shortened sticks.
The sticks taste a lot like the Adam's Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple and are really rich and decadent. I loved them and they'll make a great party treat. Right now, however, I need help with the 50+ pops. Anyone want some?