April 27, 2008
The March Daring Baker's Challenge
I was thrilled when I read what our challenge was going to be this month. Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deb, Taste and Tell, were our hostesses this month. They chose a fabulous tasting dessert called Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor. Cheesecake is my husband's number one favorite dessert and I don't make it as often as I should for him.
When my husband and I first started dating, I had a large cheese cake left over from a brunch I'd hosted. One evening I invited him over to watch a movie and eat cheese cake. What I remembered most from that evening is that he loved the cheese cake I'd made and he liked me a little more. A couple of evenings later, he called and asked if I had any cheese cake left and of course I did. He asked if I'd like some help eating it. So, he invited me over for dinner and I supplied dessert. We went on this way, sharing dinner and dessert until the cheese cake was eaten up. By this time we liked each other a lot more.
We continued our dinner and dessert evenings for the next several years. Sometimes we even got a little competition going, where the loser of our particular activity, such as bowling or putt-putt, would have to make dinner and dessert for the winner. The menu would be of the winner's choosing, we'd share the cost, and the loser would host and cook. During this time, I discovered unknown depths of competition in my husband. Every time I'd get close to winning our little competition, he'd pull out an amazing recovery to sink a hole in one or get a strike. When I asked him how he could do this time after time, he told me that he had to make sure I was the one doing the cooking. If I did the cooking, then he could ask for more cheese cake.
I owe a big thanks to my friend Pat from college for the cheese cake recipe my husband loved. She said it was a recipe from one of her grandmother's cook books and was her family's favorite dessert. Anyone who ate it always asked for the recipe. I was no different than those who tried it before me...it was heaven in a springform pan. My copy of the recipe is now wrinkled and dog eared from years of use. I'll keep it no matter how battered it gets, because our friendship and love grew over it. To celebrate our beginning, my husband chose this to be his Groom's Cake at our wedding reception.
My husband and I enjoyed the Cheesecake Pop recipe, although to be totally truthful, we preferred these scrumptious morsels without the chocolate. They were so delightfully soft and melty when you ate them without the chocolate.
I also tried out a nut cheese version of this recipe, for my daughter as she has a slight dairy allergy. The nut cheese was delightfully flavorful, but in a different way than the cheese cake. Actually, it really deserves another name other than nut cheese. It was more like a nutty cream meltaway candy center and it tasted the best without any adornment.
Thank you Elle and Deb for giving me an excuse to make cheese cake for my husband and a chance to try out a new recipe for a nut meltaway.
Grand Marnier Cheesecake
5 oz. cream cheese, softened
5 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 Tb chestnut flour
Pinch sea salt
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Grand Marnier
1 Tb almond milk
Boiling water for water bath
4 oz. white, milk or dark chocolate, finely chopped *
1 1/2 tsp vegetable shortening
Assembling the Pops
12 8-inch lollipop sticks **
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored Sprinkelz, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars
1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and then preheat it to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Start a kettle of water to boil.
2. In a mixing bowl, dump in the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt. Beat on low speed until smooth.
3. Then add the egg and egg yolk to the mixing bowl, one at a time and continue beating on low speed. Next pour in the Grand Marnier and almond milk.
4. Line a medium bowl or an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Pour the cheesecake batter into the baking dish.
5. Place the baking dish into a larger dish or a roasting pan. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake dish.
6. Bake until the cheesecake is firm, slightly golden and not wobbly in the center. Baking times will vary based on size of baking dish, but from 35 minutes for a shallow dish and 60 minutes for a deeper bowl.
7. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and place on top of the stove. Lift out the cheesecake dish and place on the stove top to cool. Once cool, cover the dish and place in the refrigerator to chill, at least 3 hours or up to over night.
8. When the cheese cake is cold and firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2 oz. balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Gently pick up each ball and roll it between the palms of your hand until round. Replace on the cookie sheet and insert a lollipop stick into the cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops until they are very hard, approximately 1 to 2 hours.
1. When the cheesecake pops are chilled hard, begin to prepare the chocolate coating. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, heat the chocolate and shortening.
2. Stir continually until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much, because it will lose it's shine after it has dried.
Assembling the Pops
1. Working quickly, dip the cheesecake pop into the chocolate and swirl it quickly to get it completely covered. Then shake off any excess into the chocolate bowl.
2. Roll the cheesecake pops in your decorations or sprinkle them on the pops. Place the finished pop on the parchment paper to dry. Repeat for the remaining pops.
3. Place the pops in the refrigerator until the chocolate coating has set. Then serve. Makes 8 pops.
Nut Cheese Cheesecake Pops
5 Tb raw cashews, ground
3 Tb raw sunflower seeds, ground
2 1/2 Tb raw pine nuts (pignoli nuts)
1 tsp chia seed meal
2 Tb cane sugar
3/4 tsp chestnut flour
Pinch sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp almond milk
Boiling water for water bath
1. Follow the recipe above, except bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. If this is made in a shallow dish, then you can use cookie cutters to cut out shapes for your pops. I made flowers that I stacked one on top of the other before placing the stick in them.
3. The nut cheese has a mild flavor, consider eating these pops plain, as they tasted the best when unadorned. If you'd like to have some chocolate on them, just drizzle a little on them.
* Chocolate Chips - I purchased chocolate chips by Enjoy Life! They are dairy, gluten, casein free, vegan and kosher.
** Lollipop Sticks - I purchased the lollipop sticks from Michael's Craft Store. They were made by Wilton.