Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cheesecake Pops-Daring Bakers

This month's daring bakers challenge involved a technique I had never used before. I had my first go at cheesecake in a water bath. Overall this recipe was not as hard as I expected, though like everyone else, I had to extend the baking time of the cheesecake (I think I left it in the oven about an hour). They worked well frozen, and the ones I did not cover in chocolate we used for chocolate fondue. I am super excited for what the next month of Daring Bakers will bring.

Cheesecake Pops

Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

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

Irish Cream Bundt Cake

I recently got a bundt pan from my MIL and J wanted some kind of bundt cake. I found what sounded like a great recipe on for Irish Cream Bundt cake. J wanted one that used pudding so this one fit the bill so I thought. I made the cake and icing and all turned out well until I served it to J and his parents. He was disappointed when there was no 'tunnel' of filling. Evidently when he wanted one that had pudding he did not mean a recipe that included pudding in the mix but one that had a 'special tunnel'. Lesson Learned on his part, be more specific next time.

Irish Cream Bundt Cake
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (18.25 ounce) package
yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant
vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over bottom of pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in eggs, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil and 3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur. Beat for 5 minutes at high speed. Pour batter over nuts in pan.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto the serving dish. Prick top and sides of cake. Spoon glaze over top and brush onto sides of cake. Allow to absorb glaze repeat until all glaze is used up.
4. To make the glaze: In a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Irish cream.

Mexican Lasagna

This was a great variation of regular Lasagna. I forget who's blog I found this one, so if it yours please let me know so I can give you credit. The guys loved this and J was taking leftovers to work all week.

Mexican Lasagna
1lb Ground Beef
1 pkg Taco Seasoning
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
6 6" Corn Tortillas
1 c Salsa
1/2 c shredded Cheddar
1 can Black Beans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef and drain the fat. Add taco seasoning tomatoes and black beans. Heat thorough. Spoon 1/2 beef mixture in 9x13 pan sprayed with olive oil (or whatever spray oil you use). Place a layer of tortillas over the beef mixture. Repeat layering process once. Top the top layer of tortillas with salsa then top with cheese. Bake for 20 min or unitl hot and bubbly.

Baked Ziti

Who doesn't love meat, tomato sauce, pasta and lots of cheese baked to perfection? I have made this a couple of times since these pictures were taken and it has passed the approval of the guys I live with as something worth repeating. I found the recipe at Sugar and Spice.

Baked Ziti

1 pound tube shaped pasta
1 Jar spaghetti sauce
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, cut into chunks and cooked
1 cup grated Romano cheese, divided
8 oz. mozzarella, diced
Shredded mozzarella

1. Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and put into a large bowl.

2. Toss pasta with 3 cups sauce, sausage, 1/2 cup Romano cheese, and diced mozzarella.

3. Pour into 13x9 glass baking dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup Romano cheese and handful of shredded mozzarella sprinkled on top.

4. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake additional 15 minutes until sauce and cheese are bubbling.

Life is an Adventure

Well. Here I go on a spree of posts. It has been almost a month since I added to my blog. In that month life has been a bit busy in ways that may be a blessing down the road. Hopefully the next six months see us enjoying a family vacation to Canada and maybe looking toward moving forward with life, rather than sitting stagnant.