Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cheesecake POPS!!

The Daring Bakers Challenge for April was Cheesecake Pops from the cookbook Sticky, Gooey, Messy, Chewy By Jill O'Connor, picked with care by our hosts, Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasm and Deborah – Taste and Tell. This is something I never would have thought of, but now I am a believer! They are just the right size!
The cheesecake itself was easy to make, made even easier by my brand spankin' new Kitchenaid Commercial 475 mixer! Yay! I never thought I needed one because my trusty Cuisianart 7 speed hand mixer has plowed through whatever I have asked of it. But the Kitchenaid was such a great deal, with an extra $35 off at Costco, that Mark talked me into it. So nice to not have to stop the mixer to add something.
Anyway, The cake was easy, but took much longer to bake, partly because I used a 9" springform because I didn't have a 10" pan and it is my deepest pan. Also, reading other posts prepared me for a longer bake. I baked for almost 1 1/2 hours, then cooled and refrigerated overnight. Rolling the balls was kinda messy. We all had fun with the balls- reminiscent of this great SNL skit. Mmmm, balls. Fun and games. And yes, my balls are mis-shapen. I ended up using an ice cream scoop and kinda shaping them. I guess I'll buy a smaller cookie scoop, since I'm sure I'd use it anyway. At the end I just cut some in random shapes, which worked real well, and sent them to the freezer to firm.

I used Mercken's milk chocolate wafers to coat some, and while I was at the cake store, I bought some Mercken's butterscotch, which I had never used before. I wasn't going to use them for this recipe, but Mark and Lacey are big bscotch fans so I decided to make a few butterscotch ones. Mark liked the butterscotch better, so I ended up making 1/2 of each flavor. (Note-blogger doesn't like that picture!!!)
The dipping went pretty well, but on the end of my first chocolate batch the chocolate started seizing, so maybe it was too hot, or maybe the cheesecake started to melt a little. I was working by the stove under the halogen lights, so for the rest of the batches I microwaved the chocolate or butterscotch and kept the balls in the freezer until I need more. After that adjustment, coating worked fine.
Mine are certainly not the prettiest- due entirely to my inpatience about anything- but they are really quite tasty!

Cheesecake Pops
Makes 30 – 40 Pops
5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room
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.
By the way, if you haven't checked out the Daring Bakers, founded by Ivonne and Lis, visit our website for more info!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hello Lover....

Yes, I too have fallen. It took coaxing, but now I am hooked. I fear I will not be able to live without it. So, so wonderful. I look forward to our time spent together.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Butter Pecan Clown Cake

I am taking a Wilton cake decorating class and as all good students do in Lesson 3, I made a clown cake. You can't see the whole cake here, but this picture is the top before it was totally done. I'm still in new blog mode and forget to take pictures. I added more balloons and balloons to the side.
The cake itself is from the Taste of Home website, but I cut the recipe in half which still made one pretty tall 9" layer, especially when I cut it in half and filled it with buttercream. The flavor was pretty good, not a real sweet cake, more like a nut cake, which went well with the sweet buttercream.
I used a different buttercream than the Wilton one, since I don't like the way it tastes. My recipe is below. You can find the cake recipe here.
BUTTERCREAM ICING (makes a medium consistency icing)
1 cup shortening
1 cup butter (salted or unsalted)- softened
1/3 cup hot water
1 Tbl powdered coffee creamer
1 tsp popcorn salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp butter extract
8 cups powdered sugar
Using a stand-up mixer, cream together the butter and shortening until nice and fluffy. Measure out the water in a standard measuring cup and dissolve the creamer, the salt in this water. Add the extracts to the cup. Stir well with a spoon.Turn your mixer speed to the lowest possible setting and add in the powdered sugar slowly. Alternate back and forth with the water mixture. Keep the mixer on low until all liquid and powdered sugar are combined. Once combined, turn the mixer up a notch and mix well. Approximately 2-3 minutes.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Not a Good Cake

OHHH! Tomorrow, Tax Day, is Mark's birthday. His favorite is Duncan Hines Chocolate Cake with my Aunt Mary's Almond frosting. A hit every time.
Of course, as I am wont to do, I decided to make a cake from scratch. The only chocolate cake I ever made from scratch before is Famous Chocolate Cake. We loved the rich, moist cake, but I made it with ganache frosting and it was over the top sweet. So I guess I thought it would be too rich for the frosting and I would try another.
I decided to try Martha Stewart's Luscious Chocolate Cake. It baked up as planned and looked very pretty when iced. Mark couldn't wait until tomorrow to cut it, so tonight we had early b-day cake.
Gotta say, we were really disappointed. The cake itself is not a moist cake, but more like a bakery cake from the grocery store. Not at all what I wanted. Not a cake I will make again. Thinking 'bout pitching the whole thing and starting over!
I will however try my frosting with the famous choc. cake one day. And keep searching for the perfect chocolate cake for my icing.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Chicken in Mushroom Wine sauce

I picked up a package of cut up chicken at the store and had lofty goals. I was gonna make cattiatore. Sometimes you think you are gonna make a dish and when it comes time to get down to business, you find that maybe you want something different. That's how it was today. I didn't want any tomato taste.
So, after looking at recipes for awhile and not finding anything that was exactly what I wanted to do, this it what I came up with. Pretty darn tasty!

Chicken in Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
1 Chicken cut into pieces, skin removed
(I used only Breasts, Thighs and Legs- freeze the rest for another time)
1 lg onion - sliced
1/2 to 3/4 lb fresh mixed variety mushrooms
1 cup dry red wine
1-2 cloves of garlic -minced
Seasoned salt to taste

In a large fry pan (or large heavy bottomed pot) I put about 1 T of bacon grease (or you could use the oil of choice). When the oil is hot, place the chicken in the pan to brown on both sides.

Meanwhile in a saucepan, place the wine and boil 15 or so min until reduced by at least 1/2.

While the wine is cooking, go back to the chicken and continue to cook on low/medium heat until chicken is golden and lightly browned. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pot, pushing to fill the spaces between the chicken and to cover the chicken. Add the garlic.
When the wine is reduced to your liking, pour it over the chicken and mushrooms. Continue to cook about 25 min more until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms and onion are soft.
I cooked until the sauce was very reduced.
Place chicken on a platter, top with the mushrooms and onion and serve.