Cheesecake Pops - Daring Bakers April Challenge

{channeling my best Homer Simpson voice} M'mmmmm.... cheesecake.... nom nom nom.

I love cheesecake. Do you love cheesecake? More importantly, do you love cheesecake as much as **I** love cheesecake? I dunnnnnooooo.... might be hard cuz boy do I love cheesecake :) In this one week I've had to make not one but two cheesecakes... two completely different recipes. One was for a friend's birthday... and the other was for this month's Daring Bakers Challenge.

Truth be told, making a cheesecake isn't really hard. It's pretty much just cream cheese, sugar, flour, salt, eggs, vanilla and heavy cream. And all ya gotta do is pretty much combine em together and bake.... right? I mean, how hard could it be... right? HA! Making cheesecake is easy - - - but making **goooood** cheesecake? That's not so easy.

For a smooth cheesecake you need all your ingredients at room temperature. And you don't want to overbeat... overbeating will cause the cheesecake to crack as it's cooking. And you don't want it to cool too quickly... cooling too quickly will cause it to crack. Cheesecake is rather finicky wouldn'tcha say?

As part of the Daring Bakers, we take an oath... and pinky swear... that we'll make the same recipe, following the directions as they're given. This month it was a good thing, too, cuz if left to my own devices this would have never come together.

After getting all the ingredients into the prepared pan, this recipe requires you to bake the cheesecake in a water bath... this is also known as "bain marie" style (hey, I dunno, I don't speak French, I barely can get things right in English, but it's called bain marie... and if ya can't pronounce it right then just say "water bath" and folks will understandja {wink}. I only have a small tea kettle so I filled it with water and timed things pretty well so that once I got the batter into the pan, the tea kettle started whistling not a minute later. I thought I was doin goooooood :) Until I discovered that my tea kettle full of boiling water barely, and I do mean **barely**, covered the bottom of my roasting pan. ACK!! I had to boil more water! It was almost like a scene from a movie where a lady's getting ready to have a baby and everyone's running around yelling "BOIL SOME WATER!!! BOIL SOME WATER!!!" cuz yes indeedy Ricky Bobby I was in my kitchen just yammerin away in disbelief "water!!! I need more boiling water!!!!!" .... as if anyone was around to take care of that task for me.... HA! As if! I mean, sure, there's three of us in the kitchen but they're "me"... "myself"... and let's not forget "I".... and we were all busy shakin our heads in disbelief that we didn't have enough boiling water and well, ya know when ya NEED boiling water, the water takes FOR-EV-ER to boil. {sigh}

Okay so we (all three of us, recall) got the pan in enough boiling water to call it a water bath (yeah, yeah, I know... bahn mah-rie... that's what I said... water bath). And then.... we let it bake. It took about an hour for this baby to finish baking but it looked beautiful if I must say so myself. After chilling the cheesecake for a few hours, you scoop out some balls, insert lollipop sticks and let em freeze for a good long time.

Finally comes the fun part... dipping them in melted chocolate and decorating :)

Now that you've heard my story and seen my pictures, why not check out the results of the other Daring Bakers to see their handiwork too :)

Thanks to this month's hosts Deborah (Taste and Tell) and Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasms)


Cheesecake Pops
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, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

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 springform pan), 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.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. 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.