Sunday, April 27, 2008

Daring Baker Challenge: Cheesecake Pops

Well, it's that time...another Daring Baker's Challenge. This month's challenge was hosted by Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah from Taste and Tell.

This month it was another recipe that I'm not too fond of, but hope to like, cheesecake. All the other DB recipes I'd seen from past months looked like ones I'd like, so I'm sure there will be some more enticing ones soon. I must say, the pops Elle made did look so darn cute! Another Daring Baker said she didn't think she liked cheesecake, but tried this recipe and found she just hadn't tried the right one. I was hoping I'd be one of those lucky people. Was I? Read on to find out!

As usual, I procrastinated and didn't start my pops until yesterday. Since I'm not a big fan of cheesecake and Lee didn't want to end up with too many to eat on his own, I decided to follow another DBer's idea of cooking 1/5 of the recipe. I figured that if we wanted more, I could always make more later. I bought the cream cheese in bulk at Sam's before seeing someone 1/5 the recipe, so I have plenty of the ingredients.

I got to use my Kitchen Aid for this challenge. I'm so glad the Kitchen Aid comes with a booklet that has sample recipes to try out, they have an example for each area of baking you would want to do so you can see the method and adapt it to other recipes. I wasn't sure whether to use the wire whisk or the flat beater for this recipe, but the two cheesecake recipes in my Kitchen Aid booklet said to use the flat beater, so that's precisely what I did. The Kitchen Aid definitely makes it a lot more fun to be a Daring Baker!

The challenge of baking only 1/5 of the recipe was the scale of the ingredients. .4 of an egg yolk was tricky, so I just eyeballed it the best I could. In baking it's best to be exact, but my cheesecake turned out fine, so I don't think it was an issue. I used my 6 inch cake pan and put it in an 8 inch cake pan for the water bath. I'd never made cheesecake before, so I did my usual lining of the pan with parchment paper to prevent sticking. I'm not sure it was really necessary since I scooped the cheesecake out of the pan. Also, Elle and Deborah said the cheesecake should be 1¼" thick in the pan to make scooping easier, mine was more like 1", but again, it didn't seem to make much difference, I was able to scoop out just fine.

The allowed adaptations were flavoring in the cheesecake (as long as it was still white) and any color/flavor coatings we wanted. Since I figured Lee would be the one eating them all I asked him what he wanted for the coating and he decided he wanted strawberry. I found a recipe for a strawberry glaze.

Later on, Lee said he wanted some graham cracker crumb when I asked him if he wanted a bit, so I had him pick up some graham crackers at Shaw's on his way home from work. Well, that was a bit of a project because of the pronunciation differences of g-r-a-h-a-m in the US and UK. In the UK the name is pronounced "grayam", and in the US it's pronounced "gram." I'm not a big fan of the UK pronunciation, but that's probably because it's just different and I have a hard time saying it that way. Unfortunately, Lee's step-grandfather is named Graham, so I have to try to pronounce it the UK way when talking about or to him! Well, Lee decided to be funny when calling me from the store and say that he couldn't find "gram crackers" all he could find were "grayam crackers." HA. HA. HA. Very funny. He was also confused about the different flavors and didn't know whether he should get chocolate, cinnamon, plain, etc...I figured plain would be the best for the cheesecake since I was trying the strawberry glaze. Anyway, he got home with the the g-crackers and I had to break it to him that He got the wrong brand! I had to tell him that Honey Maid is to graham crackers what Heinz is to ketchup...he bought Keebler!! The horror!! Well, we made do.

While the cheesecake was cooling, I made my strawberry glaze so it would have plenty of time to cool to room temperature before coating the pops. I didn't want the hot glaze to melt the cheesecake. This was pretty easy to make and only took a total of about 10 minutes. I ended up doubling the recipe because I wanted to make sure to have enough glaze to dip the pops into. I was worried that just making the recipe as is wouldn't make enough. I had glaze leftover, but I feel it was worth it. The hardest part was crushing the strawberries for the recipe. I tried using a potato masher, but it didn't work out well, so then I took the rough side of my meat mallet and pressed it against the strawberries. This worked so much better! I measured out the ½ cup of crushed strawberries, then added the juices to the pan. The strawberry scent wafting out of the pot was AMAZING! While making the glaze, it will look cloudy and thick. Don't worry about that, once you strain it, it will be a gorgeous, bright red color and I didn't even use any of the food coloring! I also didn't use any of the lemon, but that's just personal preference.

The Elle and Deborah said the pops had to be 2 oz. in size. 2 oz. made for some pretty big pops! It wasn't too bad making the pops. I wanted to get mine moving a long, so after my cheesecake was in the fridge for about an hour, I put it in the freezer just to top it off. It made it easier to shape the cheesecake into balls since cheesecake is so sticky. I had tried to make one pop before freezing and my hands were just as gooey as they were after the freezer, making 6 pops. If you have the freezer space, definitely try freezing them for about ½-1 hour to make them a bit firmer, but not so firm you can't manipulate them into the shape you want. That was another plus to only making 1/5 of the recipe. Many Daring Bakers had problems with freezer space, I didn't have to worry about that since I was only making 6.

After freezing the pops for about an hour, and cooling the glaze in the fridge, it was dipping time! I'm glad I made a double batch of the glaze. I did a coating, then put the graham cracker crumbs on it, and realized it was a thin coating. I froze all the pops for a few minutes more, then did a second coating of the glaze. If I make these again, I would do the double coating of glaze, allow that to cool a bit in the freezer, then dip them in the crumbs. Because the glaze is runny, it had a bit of pooling like a caramel apple, but that was easily smoothed away. I ended up dipping them in the graham crackers again just before serving.

The verdict? Well, I'm not a cheesecake fanatic, but these pops have definitely made me want to try this recipe with different flavors. These are very creamy and rich, they reminded me of the texture of ice cream. I also think it might be too rich to eat in regular cheesecake form. I must admit, I liked the pops in the part where there was the thicker coating of graham crackers. I guess just need a balance of texture and tastes. I think I'll add extra graham cracker to mine and both Lee and I agree that we would like them better if they were smaller, say 1 ounce. I think that would make the dipping a lot easier too.

This is a really long post, so you can visit either Elle's or Deborah's blogs for the complete recipe. I'm posting the measurements to make 1/5 of the recipe as well as the recipe for the glaze.

Cheesecake Pops

1/5 recipe (yields 6 2oz. pops):

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese
86 grams sugar (0.4 cups)
7.6 grams all-purpose flour (0.05 cups)
0.05 tsp salt (a little less than half of a 1/8 tsp measure if you have it)
1 large egg
0.4 egg yolk (eyeballed this obviously)
0.4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp (15 mL) heavy cream (0.05 cups)

Strawberry Glaze

1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup crushed strawberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
1-2 drops red food coloring (optional)

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, blend cornstarch, corn syrup, and water until smooth.
  2. Add strawberries and turn up heat to medium-high.
  3. Stirring lightly, bring to a boil and allow to boil for one minute.
  4. Strain, add lemon juice and food coloring if desired, and cool.


Made by Lena