cheesecake confuses me. it’s one of those foods that large numbers of people get incredibly excited about and i’ve no idea why, finding it overly rich and sweet, often bland and never something that lives up to the hype.
i was quite intrigued therefore, to see that this month’s daring bakers challenge, chosen by elle from feeding my enthusiasms and deborah from taste and tell, would require me to bake a cheesecake for the first time.
obviously, because this is a daring bakers challenge, getting us to make a baked cheesecake was not sufficient – instead we were tasked to make cheesecake pops, using a recipe from sticky, chewy, messy, gooey by jill o’connor.
so, how did i get on?
making the cake - making the cheesecake itself was easy enough although it took just under an hour to bake my cake (which was a half quantity of the original recipe), rather than the 35-45 minutes that the recipe states. the cake looked great and, according to david who does like cheesecake, it tasted as cheesecake should. success so far!
assembling the pops – the recipe tells us to “scoop the cheesecake into balls” - i tried to scoop but this wasn’t really possible as the mixture was so sticky. a method emerged which involved rolling balls of cheesecake between my wet palms but even then my cheesecake pops looked rustic rather than elegant. dipping them in the chocolate and decorating them was easy, fun and quick.
the final verdict:
would i have tried this recipe if it hadn't been part of the daring bakers challenge? no. i’m pleased i tried making a cheesecake and that it turned out well but the extra steps of turning it into chocolate-dipped, dragee-decorated pops is fuss and fiddle for no real reason and not something i’d normally be bothered with.
would i try this recipe again in the future? no. the verdict on the cheesecake pops was mixed – people who liked cheesecake liked them, people who didn’t like cheesecake found them overly sweet. my choice of 70% chocolate for dipping also had mixed reviews, being too intense for some. the bite size presentation style felt twee and not really appropriate for serving to anyone other than children, who are rarely the recipients of my cooking.
visit the daring bakers blogroll to see how everyone else got on.
jill o’connor’s cheesecake pops (makes 30 small pops)
500g cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour
pinch of salt
2 ½ large eggs (whisk three eggs together and discard one sixth of the mixture)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons double cream
boiling water as needed
thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks – i used straws which i cut to the right length
200g chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vegetable shortening
assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees
position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 180c. set some water to boil.
in a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. if using a mixer, use it on a low speed. add the beaten eggs and the egg yolks gradually, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. beat in the vanilla and cream.
grease a 7-inch cake tin (not a springform tin), and pour the batter into it. place the pan in a larger roasting tin and fill the roasting tin with boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake tin. bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes (it took just under an hour for my cake to be ready).
remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. cover the cheesecake with cling film 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 walnut-sized 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. using a bain marie, heat the chocolate and 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 its shine after it has dried.quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. shake off any excess into the melted chocolate and quickly roll the pops in your decorations. you can also drizzle them with a contrasting colour of melted chocolate. place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. repeat with remaining pops. refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.