Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cheesecake Lollipops: Daring Bakers

Joining the cooking blog community can be intimidating, at times. With so many creative people out there, it makes your lowly baked goods look downright ugly at times, be it for their scads of creativity, or skilled photography. I worked for a few years as a press photographer... so I thought myself decently accomplished at it, but apparently photographing people is a whole different art than food, and I've been working against the learning curve for the last couple months.

In an attempt to push myself both on a cooking front but on an artistic photography one, I signed up for the NY Marathon of food blogging, The daring bakers. I was excited to get my first assignment, Cheesecake lollipops. One of my nephew turns 2 this month, and I knew these would be perfect fare to bring along to the party, lest they sit around our house going straight to my waist.

I knew with all the cooling/freezing times, this would be a several day endeavor. So I set about baking the cheesecake Sunday. I think the grocery store must think me a nutter when I show up to the till with 7 packages of cream cheese... But between this challenge and the carrot cake last week, I put a run on their supplies. Even with them tallying at nearly 2$ a box, I still had an awed gentleman in line behind me ask the cashier if I'd used any coupons since I managed to fill an entire cart for $130. No coupons that trip, but its nice to know that my OCD-like list making and sale spotting pays off.

One of my money savers is my vanilla extract. I haven't had to buy this baking staple in a few years. My office used to have a local vodka company situated on the floor above us. They went out of business a couple years ago, and as a gift of goodwill, they dropped off a case of potato vodka. I excitedly grabbed a bottle and took it home, dropping in a couple vanilla beans. Other than topping it off every couple months with some new vodka, this bottle has been one of my prized ingredients ever since.

After mixing everything up, I set it in the roasting pan/water bath and slipped it in the oven. As the reviews suggested, I left it in nearly 75 minutes before it was browned on top and not 'jiggly' in the middle. I'm glad I'd picked up the 10 inch pan, since in that time, it'd also risen nearly 1/2 an inch above the lip of the pan. As it cooled, it shrank back down, but if it had been a smaller pan, it might have overflowed.

The next day, I set about rolling the balls. I got a digital scale for Christmas, though at times I think I would rather throw it out the window than use it. The maker seems to think it is such a useful tool that I will want to leave it out on my counter 24-7 and use it as a clock, as well as a scale. Because there is no way to turn the darn thing off. All it does, after a period of inactivity, is turn off the scale feature and go to the clock. Which is lovely, considering sometimes I want to chop and measure as I go... but then it looses the tare of the bowl... and I have to start over again.

Anyhow, I managed to get the scale function to work long enough to measure out 2 oz of cheesecake, which was pretty darn big. I decided that these would look super-cute shaped, and figured my ice cream sandwich presses might be the easiest tool to shape them. Sadly, Cheesecake is stickier than I'd figured on. And there was no way to get them shaped without crumbly edges. So I gave up and went for some rustic (theres that word again...) balls, and popped them into the freezer.


The next day, I set about adding the chocolate and toppings. I knew I wanted to use dark chocolate since I'm a big fan... And I decided to use a bit of whatever was in the pantry for toppings. I made some peppermint bark for Christmas gifts this year, and so had a jar of crushed candy cane in there. Making sure to leave out the big pieces, I figured they would look more like crushed peppermints. I also set out some chopped pecans, and red and white sprinkles. I also decided to leave a good lot of them unadorned aside from the chocolate.

I dipped them in sets of around 6, and almost like that magic shell stuff, the frozen cheesecake helped to quickly set the chocolate. My only other problem was that I ended up needing nearly twice the amount of chocolate, so halfway through I had to melt up some more. After coating them all, I had a small amount left, so I put it in a ziplock and played Jackson Pollock drizzling them all with the leftover chocolate.

Overall, this recipe was a success. I'm glad my first DB challenge went with little incident. The husband and I each tried a pop the next day, and aside from falling off the stick after a few bites, they were a big hit. Hopefully they go over as well with the party goers!

To view the other Daring Bakers' pops, visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll. For the Cheesecake Pops recipe, please visit Deborah’s site or Elle’s site.

Cheesecake Lollipops

33 comments:

Indigo said...

I loved this challenge. ^__^ Your presentation is stunning!

Kristen said...

Your cheesecake pops look so gorgeous!!! I love the little ribbons attatched to them and how you photographed them, absolutely delectable!

Robyn said...

Wow, your photography and pops are gorgeous!

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

The pops look wonderful; great photos!

Madam Chow said...

They look great, and it sounds like you had a lot of fun with them!
Madam Chow
http://www.mzkitchen.com

HoneyB said...

Your pops look lovely! Great job!

Marye said...

Excellent presentation..and wow, they just look so good. I have never even seen an ice cream sandwich press.
marye
bakingdelights.com

chelley325 said...

I love your photos and presentation - excellent job!!

Mary said...

So glad that you could join us this month - your pops look great. I like that you referred to the DBs as the NY Marathon of food blogging. :)

Julia said...

Wow... I'm speechless. Your photos look like they were yanked right out of a magazine. I personally found these pops very challenging but you made it look so simple. Bravo!

Elle said...

Great photos of adorable pops. I'm also envious of your vanilla stash. Great way to use up vodka. Glad you are a Daring Baker!

Lunch Buckets said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers and congratulations on your first challenge - certainly a success!`

Mrs Erg├╝l said...

Love the way you captured your completed pops!

Jen Yu said...

Very nicely done! Your cheesecake pops are so lovely. Great work and congrats on completing your challenge!!

pixie said...

these look fabulous! great job!

Casey said...

it was my first challenge as well...your photos look amazing! I'd say it was a huge success! :)

chrismacd1 said...

Your presentation is so beautiful! Oh I wish I could take pics like you! Your pops are deelish. Congrats on a job well done!

Bumblebutton said...

They look darling descending down the tiers. You are lucky to have that vanilla--one of those things I always mean to make.

chriesi said...

Beautiful!

Candace said...

Fabulous pops and decoration!

Barbara Bakes said...

Your photos are beautiful!

Jerry said...

Great first challenge! You did a lovely job!

Mandy said...

good job on completing the first challenge. Your cheesecake pops are beautiful.

Brilynn said...

You presentation is just lovely! Well done!

Steph said...

Great photo's! I'm really impressed! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Amy J. said...

Oh....wow.... I'm gonna HAVE to get a nicer camera!! ;> Those look beautiful!

marias23 said...

Beautiful, beautiful first challenge! Welcome, ma sistah! :)

Gretchen Noelle said...

Wonderful job on your first challenge! Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Gorgeous photos!

Tempered Woman said...

Great job on your first challenge! It's too bad the ice cream shaper didn't work~ those would have been some really cool pops. They look perfect though "rustic" and all, heh

Mansi Desai said...

wow, your pops look simply beautiful! and that first photo is ethereal, like somethign out of a cookbook:) great job on your first challenge!!:)

Merav said...

Beautiful presentation and photography!

RecipeGirl said...

Well, you shouldn't feel intimidated at all. It sure looks like your photography experience has done wonders. Your pictures (and your balls) are gorgeous!

Barbara said...

Great looking pops! Your pictures are fantastic.