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Well, this month the Daring Bakers made lovely Opera Cakes.  All except me.

I adore opera and opera cake and was looking forward to this challenge, but we are moving in a few days and the packing up started before I could get my challenge done.  So, for those of you who are dropping by to check out my cake, my apologies.

I do plan to make this cake in June when my younger daughter and her husband move here from Texas.  I’ll post pix then.  In the meantime, check out about a thousand other opera cakes at http://daringbakersblogroll.blogspot.com/

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It Ain’t a Pretty Picture

Chocolate Pistachio Cheesecake Pops

Apologies to the other Daring Bakers who actually had their posts on the appropriate day. My cheesecake was actually done, but I am experiencing technical problems. If you are reading this, it means I finally won! Persistence pays.

Chocolate Pistachio Cheesecake Pops

This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge is Cheesecake Pops from a nifty little dessert cookbook intriguingly called Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. I don’t own this book (yet) but on several trips to the local bookstore, I have thumbed through it drooling over the yummy-sounding recipes therein. Our hostesses were Deborah at Taste and Tell and Elle at Feeding My Enthusiasm. Thanks ladies, great job!

Being no stranger to baking cheesecake, I was eager to tackle a different recipe for what has become one of my very favorite desserts. The cheesecake went together like a dream–the batter was silky smooth and the cheesecake baked perfectly without cracking. So, what was the problem? The weather. We have been socked in with rain for several days and with posting date approaching and the dew point hovering around 70 degrees, I knew the dipping process would be challenging. I scooped my cheesecake balls and froze them, but by the time I had the third one dipped into the chocolate and rolled in the pistachios, the first one was coated with a fine dew. returning them to the fridge did nothing to alleviate the problem and sitting an hour at room temp didn’t help either. So nothing to do except snap a few pix and eat dessert.

After scooping the cheesecake balls, the pan of cheesecake with Swiss cheese holes made a wonderful parfait with fresh strawberry coulis. Just too good to waste any bits! BTW, the recipe halved beautifully–I used three whole eggs, low-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), and an 8-inch pan. Because it went together so quickly and was sooooooo creamy and delicious, I think this will become my default recipe. I think it would work wonderfully in a pie crust topped with fruit, or in a graham crust as a traditional cheesecake. The possibility for flavorings is endless.

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 – 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 decora
tions.
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.

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