Monday, July 20, 2009

Cheesecake Pops

I was asked to bring some desserts to an upcoming bridal shower for a friend getting married in September. The host wanted me to make these:
Now, Bakerella is an amazing lady, but I've tried her cake pops and
failed miserably so I knew I would need a trial run. Lucky for me, the Daring Bakers did cheesecake pops as a challenge a while back, so I had plenty of sources to research the best technique. A couple bakers tried the mold technique, which I thought was a smart way to go since there were several complaints about sticky fingers when the challengers rolled the cheesecake into balls. So I thought I'd try 2 types: half sphere (and roll 2 halves together) and square:I thought the square would make nice little squares that I could roll in some graham cracker crumbles. But, as you can see from the picture above, they sunk in the middle and ended up not looking very pretty at all. So in the end, those got rolled up by hand.
Here they are balled up and rolled in graham cracker - this served as a nice coating so I didn't end up with too much cheesecake on my hands. Then I dipped the sticks in some white chocolate and inserted them into the balls to act as a little glue to keep the sticks firmly in the pops. As I learned from my cake pop disaster, the sticks have a tendency to fall through the balls, so I thought this would prevent that from happening.
I started out this project planning to have these as pops - standing upright with cheesecake at the top. However the chocolate I used was a little thicker than I intended and I didn't think it would be thin enough to coat them smoothly. So I opted to have the sticks up and I think it turned out nicely:

I thought they looked cute in the little swirly dish. Since the square mold didn't really turn out the way I had hoped, I baked another batch in a big square dish and cut it into cubes. This worked much better than the square mold. I then rolled the squares in a graham cracker and hazelnut mixture that I had toasted earlier. Then I topped each with a slice of pear. These were the crowd favorite which works out well since they were the easiest to make!

I didn't get a picture, but these fit nicely on a 3-tier stand I have from Pottery Barn. Here's a link to it, so you can visualize how nicely they looked stacked up:

Lessons learned:
  • It pays to do your research! Thanks to all the Daring Bakers out there whose mistakes and successes I learned from!
  • Definitely mix the chocolate with some shortening to thin it a bit if you want smooth pops.
  • Squares are the way to go. Plus since I used the same technique with dipping the stick in chocolate to act as glue before inserting into the square, they had just a touch of sweetness that seemed to please all types of dessert eaters.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why Kleine Kuche?

I've never lived in Germany. I don't speak German... well, I don't speak it well at least. So, you ask, why "Kleine Küche"? Well, it has a couple meanings for me:
  • I heart alliteration
  • My great-grandparents came to the US from Germany, so the German made sense
  • I'm on the short side, and most of my life have been referred to as "Little Lori", so the "kleine" seemed to make sense
And really, If you've seen my kitchen, it would all come together. I love to bake. I often don't have the time, but it's a great stress reliever for me. However, here's a picture of my kitchen:

That's it. That's the whole thing. And this is a pretty average night for my kitchen. Dog eating his dinner. Dishes drying. But don't let those dishes fool you. We have a dishwasher, but it's not hooked up. Why you ask? Why would a perfectly new dishwasher sit in a kitchen unused? Because apparently a house built in 1939 doesn't have the right power source for modern appliances. And we keep holding out hoping that some day we'll actually be able to afford to expand the kitchen into the wonderful masterpiece that it deserves to be. But until then, the dishwasher sits there, taunting me on a nightly basis...

And from the other angle:
I'm not going to try to lie and say it's not normally this cluttered. It is. I mean, how could it NOT be?! Look at the counter space... or lack thereof. Ditto for the cabinet space. So typically when I bake, it causes my boyfriend much angst as I take up every square inch (and yes, square INCH is more fitting than square FOOT) of the kitchen. So my stress reliever become my significant other's source of stress.

I has come a long way though, here are some before pics (note the flowered wallpaper and circa 1945 stove):

And during renovation:

My favorite part is the various levels of flooring we found under the stove. Awesome. BTW, if anyone wants to buy a working circa 1945 stove, I've got one for sale. Just let me know. It weighs about 5 tons though, so you have to be willing to come pick the sucker up.

Anyway, before I digress too far, my kitchen is small. So Kleine Küche it is. If you're still confused, look it up here: