Sunday, April 27, 2008

Daring Bakers: Cheesecake Pops


Lessoned learned during this month's Daring Bakers Challenge: you can't hurry cheesecake pops (noooo you just have to wait .... pops don't come easy .... it's a game of ... sorry, got carried away).

The challenge, from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor, looked like a fun and relatively easy challenge. Bake cheesecake - I can do that. Roll it into balls - not too tough. Plop in a stick, dip it all in melted chocolate, and roll in toppings - no problem.

But I ended up doing it all in the span of one morning and afternoon, which was folly. I meant to make everything well in advance, but with a week filled with one son's Little League practices, another son's play rehearsals, plus helping Wickham Farms prepare for their seasonal opening (May 1!), it just didn't happen.

The cheesecake batter seemed to have just the right consistency. The recipe called for a 10-inch pan (not springform). I don't have such a pan so I pulled out my 9-inch pan. When I realized that pan would overflow with all of the batter, I put the remainder of the batter in a small loaf pan. I put them all in a large roasting pan, and added the boiling water for a water bath. I didn't have enough water for it to come halfway up the pans but I figured it was close enough.

This recipe calls for the cheesecake to be baked 35-45 minutes, which is very short for baking a 10-inch cheesecake. Many Daring Bakers baked theirs for well over an hour. Figuring out when a cheesecake is done is tricky. Usually the center jiggles a bit when it's done. I deemed this one done when it one formed a crust on top, there was no jiggling, and was slightly golden -- 55 minutes in my convection oven (I pulled the smaller loaf pan out of the oven earlier).

Your best bet is to let cheesecakes refrigerate overnight before serving, but this was time for shortcuts. When they came out of the oven, I popped them right into our outdoor "beer fridge" until they were about room temperature, then into the freezer to get them good and cold.

I don't think I misjudged the baking time. When I started scooping truffle balls, the cheesecake wasn't runny at all, but it was very soft, like a truffle filling.

I admit I unintentionally broke one of the rules of the challenge (I didn't read the rules closely enough.) The recipe called for the balls to be 2 ounces. When I weighed a 2-ounce blob of cheesecake, it was about the size of a golf ball. I wanted mine to be bite size, so I made mine 1/2 ounce.

Although the recipe says to form the balls, impale them with a stick, then freeze then, I tried to skip the freezing step. I rolled some, inserted the stick, dipping them, and then rolling them in jimmies. I figured that if you could do it with truffle filling, you should be able to do it with this stuff.

The soft balls of cheesecake wouldn't stay on the stick and kept falling into the white coating (I used candy making wafers, which, although they contain evil trans fats, are the easiest to work with). So I did it like truffles, dipping it into the white substance with a fork, rolling it in the toppings, and then adding the stick. That's how I did the ones with the colorful jimmies in the first photo. It worked fairly well. The disadvantage was that some cheesecake was left behind in the white stuff each time. I knew this wasn't going to work for a large quantity of pops.

Then, I decided that I'd do all of the scooping first and put trays of the balls in the freezer to firm up a bit in order to roll them and insert the sticks.

Here's the thing about freezing 1/2 inch blobs of cheesecake. They freeze pretty damn quickly. When I got them out of the freezer to form them into balls, they were too hard to roll into nice balls. I stuck some in the fridge to soften up a bit. Others firmly rolled into something resembling balls.

I dipped the frozen balls on a stick into melted chocolate. But here's the thing with dipping frozen balls into chocolate: by the time you drip off the excess chocolate, it's too firm to roll in other toppings, like nuts or jimmies. But if you let them soften too much, the cheesecake balls won't stay on the sticks.

Also, I noticed when you eat the things (hey, I had to taste test!) that when the cheesecake thawed, it too soft to stay on the stick. I thought blobs of cheesecakes dropping off of sticks wouldn't make for an elegant end to my friend's dinner.

I found two solutions that were easy to do, looked good, and tasted great.

The one I liked the best (left): Dip the bottoms into a mixture of finely chopped nuts and crushed graham cracker crumbs to imitate a nutty crust. Then drizzle the top with melted chocolate. Make sure the chocolate hits the stick, because that's the glue that keeps everything on the stick. It all resembles a tiny piece of cheesecake.

Solution number two (right) was dipping the whole ball into one kind of chocolate, letting it firm up briefly, then drizzling it with a second topping. Again, make sure some of that chocolate hits the stick.

This whole process made quite the mess. This photo, with some of the pops ready to go to the dinner party, gives you an idea of the fraction of the mess that was left to clean up.

But I have to say, they were a hit with both the kids and the adults! And they are addictive. I have to keep myself from opening the fridge to pop another one in my mouth. The rest are going to band practice tonight.

If I decide to make these again, I'll probably stick with my tried-and-true cheesecake recipe, and I'd stick with the 1/2 ounce balls.

Thanks to Deborah from Taste and Tell and Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms for another unexpectedly challenging challenge! If you want the full recipe, it's posted on Deborah's blog.

31 comments:

Emiline said...

What a pain in the a**!
These sound tricky to make. They look good though. Hope the band enjoys them.

Charlie looks cute.

Jenny said...

Tracy,
That picture with your dog in the background is priceless! Your pops look terrific. I about threw in the towel trying to roll all the sticky cheesecake balls. I still can't read your Top Chef post, I've got to watch it tonight on tivo!

Amy J. said...

Totally LOL at your pup patiently waiting for a taste test! :D They look great, despite your troubles - good job!

Barbara Bakes said...

Love the song! Your pops look delicious!

Elle said...

Great pops and wonderful post...really gets to the challenge in the challenge. Had not thought about needing the chocolate to hit the stick, but it's true...helps to keep it on th stick. Great job!

Deborah said...

What a great idea to make sure the chocolate hits the stick to make sure the stick stays in. I'm gonna remember that! They look great!

Tracy said...

Emiline, Jenny and Amy -- Charlie is getting into the habit of jumping into the picture when I take blog photos. I think he likes the attention! Oh, and the band did enjoy them!

Barbara, thanks!

Elle & Deborah, thanks for a good challenge!

Lori said...

Nevertheless they came out great!

HoneyB said...

Great job! I love the look of your pops and the pic with your dog and your pops is priceless!

Laura said...

Frankly even with freezing mine and taking 2 days to make them I still couldn't get them to roll into very nice balls. But once they were coated in chocolate it didn't seem to matter. And yes I wish I had done 1/2 oz like you did. I love the 2 toned chocolate one on the right, btw. All those gorgeous drizzles! I did not have the patience for that!

Lunch Buckets said...

The picture with the puppy is killing me! It looks like he's trying to use mind control to flip one off the plate!

Lore said...

Cute pops! Is Charlie even cutter then the pops? Tough choice:)!

Veronica said...

I know my dog would not have sat still like that for the photo-he would have been all over those pops...but could you blame him? They look so yummy.

Susan said...

I can't believe you did this all in one day but the pops don't seem to have suffered at all for it. They look fabulous!

Tracy said...

Thanks for the nice words.

Glad Charlie can't read or he'd have a huge ego!

Charlie does that all the time -- hop up on the chair to see what's going on when I'm taking photos. But he knows he gets a firm "no" the second a paw hits the table! So yes lunch buckets, mind control is his only option!

chrismacd1 said...

These pops were messy but fun! Yours look amazing! The pic of your dog is adorable and priceless!

Prudy said...

Tracy:
The pops really are adorable. I love how you styled them in the first picture. They look really yummy. I'm going to try them for my little girl's birthday party. How are the Rochester lilacs???? Yet another reason to miss upstate NY....
I've got a new cooking blog going, so come over and take a look!
http://prudencepennywise.blogspot.com/
Erin Mylroie
Erin Mylroie

Elisabeth said...

Cheesecake pops - what a fun idea, even if they were kind of tricky! I think I might have to give that a try sometime - maybe, like you suggested, with my favorite cheesecake recipe.

Anonymous said...

I loved those pops! Charlie in the back of the pops looks so cute! In my opinion all your pictures should have Charlie in it!

Anonymous said...

The pops are so good. The picture with Charlie in it was so cute! In my opinion all your pictures should have Charlie in it!

B

Gigi said...

aaahhh, tiny M&M's! So jealous! Very cute pops and pup.

cookworm said...

I love that you took the time to decorate them so differently. And your furry friend is so cute! Reminds me of my childhood dog. :)

Texana said...

Your pops look fantastic, and your puppy is very adorable.

Barbara said...

Great pops! Glad you found a solution to keeping them on their sticks.

Jacque said...

I loved your write up and hearing about your trial and error with the pops. I came to the same conclusions as you, messy and a bit of a pain to make, but a crowd pleaser nonetheless.

Great job!

Lisa said...

They look so cute. I wouldn't DARE make these as my decorating skills are not up to par. Looks like Charlie is waiting to have some.

RecipeGirl said...

Terrific idea to use the choc. as a glue! I had the same problem, but I just put out forks and my guests ate them with a fork. Kind of defeats the purpose. I liked them best myself right out of the freezer.

Camilla said...

Tracy! I'm getting fatter reading about all these yummy chesecake pops on various blogs!!! Yours look stellar!

I have an award for you on my blog. Don't feel like you have to write about it or pass it along (a la chain letters of yore); you certainly can pass it along to others, but I just wanted to let you know how great I think your blog is (and to make sure others come by to check you out).

Camilla said...

Tracy! I'm getting fatter reading about all these yummy cheesecake pops on various blogs. Yours look stellar!

I have an award for you on my blog. Don't feel like you have to write about it or pass it along (a la chain letters of yore); you certainly can pass it along to others, but I just wanted to let you know how great I think your blog is (and to make sure others come by to check you out).

Eralda LT said...

I found your blog through Camilla's. I love the picture of the pops and Charlie. ADORABLE! And the pops themselves look delicious.

Dolores said...

I think you nailed the significant challenges in this one:

1. the cleanup and
2. the willpower to keep from consuming too many in a single sitting.

Great job!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...