This is my first challenge as a member of The Daring Bakers. You may have noticed that I don’t feature many sweet recipes on this blog which is because, to be honest, I’m not really a dessert kind of person. I’m the one who always orders the cheese. As a consequence of my savoury-biased taste buds, I don’t have much experience with baking. I like an all or nothing approach to things so I signed up to be a Daring Baker. What’s the point in starting with a Victoria sponge? I like a challenge.
The deal clincher for me was seeing the recipe for Julia Child’s French Loaf, I really wanted to make that recipe! This month however, it was a cheesecake. Well, a cheesecake to start off with but soon demolished to make these cheesecake ‘pops’. We were allowed certain adaptations including the use of a colourless flavouring. I’ve been meaning to use the rosewater I have languishing in my cupboard and decided to go with a Middle Eastern theme by adding a pistachio crust on the outside. When I first saw the recipe called for vegetable shortening melted into the chocolate I found the idea a bit gross. When it melts though, you can’t taste it and it does (as promised!) help to give the chocolate a nice crack when you bite into it.
A requirement of the challenge was that we must use lollipop sticks. Apart from the fact that I left it too late to order online, I wanted to find an an alternative – something edible. These chocolate curls worked perfectly (no, I didn’t make them myself!), it’s like eating an ice cream and then eating the cone.
You can see from the finished result that I didn’t produce the most dainty of pops. The cheesecake worked well and didn’t sink like a baked cheesecake normally would (recipe is a keeper) but it didn’t seem to set properly, even after 24 hours in the fridge. I would blame the fridge or the recipe but I’m sure it’s down to something I either did or didn’t do. As a result, the pops are more like blobs really even though I bought a melon baller (none sold since 1975!) especially for the purpose. As I’m writing this, I’ve just thought of the best idea for using that melon baller I could ever wish for. I’ll get back to you on that one.
So, what were they like? Well, they were deliciously naughty actually. The rosewater and pistachio combination is really great in a cheesecake, the rosewater adding a floral depth that works well with a hint of vanilla. I originally wanted to make two flavours, experimenting with orange blossom water and crystallised rose petals too but I ran out of time so I’m saving that one for another post. When I originally read the recipe, I thought it was a bit silly. There is something special though, about having a dainty (or in my case – rugged) little morsel of sin to nibble on, it somehow seems more decadent than eating a whole slice.
I found these are even better if you pop them back in the freezer for half an hour or so before you want to eat them. They are like the best choc-ices in the world afterwards!
Cheesecake Pops (Adapted 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
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rosewater
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Chocolate curls, to use as lollipop sticks
Crushed pistachios, for coating
-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 spring form pan. Helen: I used a spring form pan but just lined it really well with foil – no problems), 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 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.
-At this point I put a plate in the freezer to help the newly dipped pops along a bit. I thought about putting the chocolate curls in there too but forgot and it was fine. You need to be working fairly fast anyway.
-Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. Now roll the pops in the crushed pistachios. Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.
-Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.