Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sweet-for-You Cheesecake Pops

Oh, Valentine's Day. I really ought to just leave it at that. There's so much to be said in defense of parties both for and against the holiday. I can certainly understand both platforms, but will have to take the side of Cupid this year. While I don't agree with commercial holidays centered around spending money, I do think that it's okay to have a day set aside to remind people to take time to do something nice - either for themselves or for others.

My momma used to turn on my bedroom lights to wake me up for school and act just as surprised as I was that there were balloons or chocolates or flowers or teddy bears or some phenomenal mixture thereof scattered across the top of my dresser. She'd always prop the card up somewhere right in the middle, my name penned gracefully in cursive across the front. I'll blame her for setting my standards for Valentine's Day.

Yesterday was my first married Valentine's, as well as the first one I've really made a point to celebrate with my husband. Our "dating" anniversary is a couple weeks from now so we always just wrapped the two into one. I'll save all the mushy-gushy details of how blissful the day was (though now I'm reconsidering ...), but I have to share an awfully fun gift idea that I put into action for hubby: Cheesecake Pops!

I saw them first on a blog I ran across about a month ago called Bakerella. If you've got the time and self-discipline, I highly recommend checking the site out. I can hardly get over the great food photography, much less the fun recipes. I used their recipe for cheesecake and while it served its purpose, it didn't turn out quite as yummy as my usual cheesecake recipe (courtesy of le Paula Deen). I've copied the instructions for making/decorating the (pre-made) cheesecake pops from the website and put them here. The only changes I'd make would be: 1) to try and find something between a melon baller and an ice cream scoop (our baller seemed too tiny), 2) to possibly (*gasp*) cheat and buy a ready-made cheesecake and 3) have more people to serve them to - husbands can only handle so much and the dog, well, it's just not right to tease him so.

You'll Need:
  • Plain cheesecake (though you could certainly try something new - chocolate or key lime sound divine!)
  • Mini ice cream scoop or melon baller
  • Chocolate candy melts (plan to use something that will complement your accoutrements)
  • Assortment of sprinkles
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Wax paper
  • Graham cracker crumbs 
  • Dipping bowl
  • Styrofoam rectangle
  • 12"x12" Scrapbook paper to decorate the styrofoam
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Fill a bowl with graham crack crumbs. You can start with about 1C; if you need more, add some later. Using the scoop or baller, scoop balls out of the cheesecake (without getting the crust in it). Drop and roll it a little neater into a ball in your hand. Then, drop the ball into the bowl of crumbs to help retain the shape.
  • Repeat this until you fill a baking sheet with cracker-covered balls. Pop the sheet into the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.
While They Chill:
  • Wrap the scrapbook paper around the styrofoam block and secure the bottom with multiple strips of tape. If you want to cover the sides of the block, you can cut some of the extra paper off and adhere it to the sides. I left my two small sides uncovered since, well, hubby didn't care and neither did I.
  • Use the tip of a pencil to poke holes in alternating rows. The photo below shows what the rows will look like. You can keep the sticks to the side until you're ready to use them.

  • Use a couple ramekins, small bowls or even baking cups to hold your sprinkles.
  • Heat up your dipping chocolate. Make sure you follow the instructions on the bag so you don't burn your chocolate or are waiting for it to melt. 
Back to Work!
  • Remove the sheet from the freezer. Dip one end of a lollipop stick in the melted chocolate and then pierce one of the cheesecake balls. Let it set for a few seconds (letting the chocolate cool with help the ball stay at the top of the stick instead of slowly sliding down it). Dunk in the melted chocolate and roll around a few times to let the excess fall off. Quickly pop the chocolate cheesecake goodness into your sprinkles then into the styrofoam block to dry.  A note on decorating: You can make the pops as random and messy or as planned and pretty as you'd like.
  • When you're finished, pop the block into the refrigerator until you're ready to devour, er, savor them.
Mostly Chocolate:

And for the fainter of heart, *sighs*
Less Chocolate (and a lustful puppy):

Et voila!

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