A Good Cheesecake Spoiled (But Not Really)

Well, it just figures. The one time — the one and only time in my ever-hopeful-but-never-successful cheesecake-attempting career — that I manage to bake a cheesecake that doesn’t crack, I can’t show it off. I can’t carry it triumphantly to the table to admiring “ooh”s and “aah”s and “look, no Grand Canyon in that cake”s and “she’s such a cheesecake star”s. Nope, I’m obligated to transmogrify this one beyond all recognition. Not only that, but I didn’t even have the brains to take a photo of it in its pristine, glorious smoothness.

I had to get that off my chest, but I’m really not all that broken up, because the mutation was in service of a good cause. Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasms) and Deborah (Taste and Tell) gave us Daring Bakers an excellent challenge this month: Cheesecake Pops. It’s a recipe from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor.

The idea is that you bake a cheesecake (and it doesn’t even have to be a lovely, crack-free, perfect cheesecake) and scoop it out into little balls which you then impale on sticks, freeze, and dip into chocolate plus any other coatings your heart desires.

It’s not something I would have ever come up with myself in a million years, nor is it even probably something I would have tried if left to my own devices, but then that’s the point of Daring Bakers. And the truth is, this was a lot of fun, and pretty delicious. The challenge allowed for ample creativity in the decoration of the pops, and from the looks of their creations, I think my fellow Daring Bakers had fun too.

As usual, I have a few thoughts and observations:

  • My cheesecake required 80 minutes to bake, about twice as long as the recipe suggested. It seems that most of my DB confederates saw this as well.
  • I wish I knew what it was about this cake that saved it from cracking. In the past I have baked cheesecakes in a bain marie and at a relatively low temperature, as this was, and still they have cracked, if not in the oven then as they cooled.
  • It took more than two hours for the cake to come to room temperature so it could be refrigerated. I don’t recommend baking this too late at night.
  • The balls were supposed to be two ounces each — about the size of a walnut, according to the recipe. I thought my two-tablespoon scoop produced about that size, but when I had scooped 45 balls and still had about 15% of the cheesecake left in the pan, I decided my balls must be too small. Oh well, they seemed like a pretty good size to me.
  • Maybe not chewy, but definitely sticky, messy and gooey. Dipping the scoop periodically in water, and wetting my hands before rolling the balls, helped reduce sticking. Even so, it was hard to get them perfectly round. I decided I really like organic shapes.
  • I clearly need a lesson in white chocolate. I bought dark, milk, and white chocolate, and my idea was to dip each ball successively in the three colors, creating a layered effect. The dark and milk chocolates were no problem, but the white seized (or something) and the more I tried to fix it the more obstreperous it became. Because I had allowed my procrastinating nature to rule this month, there was no time to ask my fellow DBs for help. I finally gave up and gave each ball a cap of pearl sugar instead.
  • A florist’s frog worked wonderfully for keeping the dipped pops upright until the chocolate coating firmed up. Unfortunately mine could only hold three or four at a time.

Thanks to Deborah and Elle for this month’s great challenge, and thanks too to Lis (La Mia Cucina) and Ivonne (Cream Puffs in Venice), the founders and fearless leaders of the Daring Bakers. They have worked tirelessly to bring us a brand new forum that is not only robust enough to stand up to constant dishing about the challenge by hundreds of Daring Bakers, but also has a public area where non-DBs can engage in baking banter. Nice work!

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    I thought only mine took so long to bake! Looks like everyone had the same experience! Yours are neatly coated. Very patient and neat work indeed!

  2. says

    Yours look much more professional than mine. White choc is much more difficult to work with it has a tendency to go rock hard and it’s not easy to get it to work for dipping.

  3. says

    Har! Wish I had seen your message before I baked; late at night, night before posting…. and the damn thing took forever to cool! Now I’m dreading to scoop!
    Thought I’d never said something like this aloud but your balls are looking mighty fine!

  4. says

    Your pops are gorgeouse enough to make up for that crackless cheesecake’s sacrifice :)
    I had a similar experience to your observations-Great job!

  5. says

    yeay for no grand canyon! haha! All of your pops are so cute and yummy looking! I just joined Daring bakers so I will be baking something up next month!

  6. says

    Well you know what this means then, don’t you? You’ll just have to make the cheesecake again! You’ll be crowned The Queen of Cheesecake Perfection in no time! :)

    I love your pops.. the pearl sugar is gorgeous on the dark chocolate.



  7. says

    Lovely! Is that pearl sugar on top? It makes me think of coarse sea salt, and now I want to try that!

    Anyways, even if you couldn’t show off your flawless cheesecake, I’m sure a big tray of these pops have an equal “wow” factor.

  8. says

    Really beautiful with the layers of chcoco and the pearl sugar. I agree thatI would be more content with just a plain perfect cheesecake.But the Pops were a tasty surprise.

  9. says

    Cute pops! I used styrofoam to help the pops stay upright while drying but a florist’s frog would work great, too! I love the list of tips/suggestions you gave at the end.

  10. says

    These are so cute! I love how you used the different layers of chocolate. I feel the same way as you- I would have never thought to use cheesecake this way, but it’s such a cute and fun idea!

  11. says

    I wish I would have thought to use my floral frog. I sat there twirling and tapping to try and avoid getting a puddle on the bottom of my pops.

    And I thought your white sugar was pretzel salt until I read your post!

  12. says

    Oh, I love how you combine the dark and milk chocolates. That looks beautiful. Perhaps the next time you make a cheesecake, you can try the same thing and it won’t crack? :) Good job either way – at least you know you can bake a cheesecake that doesn’t have a rift in the middle!!

  13. says

    I bet the white chocolate you had was poor quality. YOu obviously know how to melt chocolate and dip without causing chocolate to seize so my guess is that the white chocolate was just not that good.

    Great looking lollies!

  14. says

    You’re not the only one who ended up with the perfect, uncracked, cheesecake…and then had to scoop balls out of it :). Love you post and those gorgeous pops!

  15. says

    Isn’t it great to stretch yourself to places you would never have imagined you could or would go. Great job on the lollies.

  16. says

    Ha, ha — what a funny perspective — a good cheesecake ruined. But it’s good to remember this option for a cheesecake that doesn’t turn out as this one. Your pops look wonderful.

  17. says

    I saw your lollipops on Tastespotting and they caught my eye. They are beautiful! I’m so glad I came by, you have a wonderful website.


  18. says

    Beautiful presentation Susan! To prevent cracks on cheesecakes, lower temperatures like 325F and an almost full pan are best. Great take on the challege!

  19. says

    I used white choc with a perfect result.
    First I melted chocolate in a simmering water bath, added 1 spoon of rice oil (for 200 gr of choc) and tempered on a marble plane.
    I can see my shots it was perfect and delightful.
    maybe tempering was crucial.
    considering that white chocolate has a lower range of temperature.

  20. says

    Erm…can we take that lesson in white chocolate together, please? I dropped TWO of my cheesepops into the white chocolate and then had to fish them out, melt more, and it happened all over again. The dog loved the scraps. Seriously! I’m loving those two toned chocopops! Bee-you-tee-ful!

  21. says

    your pops look wonderful!!! i had a hard time getting mine to coat all the way to the bottom.. your chocolate look so wonderfully smooth on your pops!! great job!! -kk

  22. says

    Hi Susan, as usual you have done a very professional job out of this month’s challenge, it’s a joy to look at and read about.

    Like you, I waited to the very last minute and ended up posting abut a half done job.

    A hot tip for getting things to cool quickly is to use ice blocks from cooler bags. It makes quite a difference. My freezer even came with a shelf sized one, in case there’s a power cut, to preserve things for longer and it’s just perfect for cooling oven pans. I put a piece of newspaper between, so as not to melt the plastic of the ice block at the beginning or let it rest for maybe 10 minutes before putting it on the ice blocks.

    I’ll now be off to dip my solid frozen pops.


  23. says

    Whoa! Seems like it took you a long time to bake the cheesecake! I ended up pouring them into smaller bowls and they got done in about 30 minutes.

    Your shapes look great! I didn’t even try to get them symmetrical :)

  24. says

    Wow! Your pops are amazing! My cake cracked…I thought, “oh goodie, I can hide that!” I’m going to have to do this challenge again & strive for your perfection.

    xoxox Amy

  25. says

    Agreed, yours are lovely – I had to laugh at you forgetting to take a picture – doesn’t it always work that way?? I think everyone on the planet had to bake longer than called for, my half recipe took nearly 50 mintues. I used white chocolate coverture and it was fool-proof! Anyway, your little cap of pearl sugar is inspired!

  26. says

    “I decided my balls must be too small”

    I got a good laugh out of that one (shamelessly taken out of context!). Nice job though. I’m not usually much into baking pastries and cake, but I might give this one a try.

  27. says

    Oh Susan…these are absolutely stunning. The insides are luscious & far too tempting, & the pops are perfecto!!! The 2 toned chocolate gives them an ethereal finish with the pearl sugar on top! LOVELY!!

  28. says

    I didn’t realise you were a ‘Daring Baker’ too Susan! I’m not, but my friend Kelly-Jane is. I’m feeling a little daring in the kitchen right now (fresh from my Danish Pastry success!) so might give these cute cheesecake pops a try… Yours (and KJ’s) look amazing!

  29. says

    your pops look delicious and adorable… go figure on the crack free cake… you’re just getting better so next time your cheesecake will be perfect too !

  30. says

    Oh my goodness… I think your pops are the most beautiful ones I’ve seen yet. The pearl sugar is pure genius!! Oh, and the florist frog… duh! What an inspired idea!

    Thank you for your wonderful comment! :-)

  31. says

    I know, the cheesecake came out absolutely perfect. . .no cracks! I didn’t take a picture of mine either and I was so bummed over that. I guess we will both have to bake another one just for the pictures. . .uhmm yes. . .that was funny wasn’t it? Your pops are absolutely adorable and I did struggle with the white chocolate too. I love your idea of white caps. . .very chic! =D

  32. says

    They look fantastic! I, too, would not have picked this recipe out of that book, but that’s one of the reasons I joined the Daring Bakers! Love your blog!

  33. says

    Ah, that’s sugar on top? I was trying to picture what salt would taste like, hehe. I need lessons in white chocolate too…. I tried making a glaze with it tonight and it looks so ugly!

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