Showing posts with label cake balls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cake balls. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Birthday cheesecake and cake pops


It’s my nephew, the Boy Wonder’s, 16th birthday this weekend (16????  Where does the time go?) and, knowing he’s a cheese cake fiend, I wracked my brains to come up with an original twist on his favourite dessert. (Sorry about the photos being dark – it was one of those gloomy days where nothing seemed to work!)

I’d bought these Wilton cake pop pans in John Lewis and thought their shape made them great candidates for coring and filling:

If you don’t have them I suspect a mini cupcake pan would work just as well.  For this cheesecake I made chocolate sponges...

...cored them...

... and filled them with chocolate cheesecake mix:

Cook’s perks...always the tastiest bit of cooking!

Half of my pops were submerged in the cheesecake (along with the leftover chocolate cheesecake mix), the other half put on sticks as a decoration...well, they sure beat sparklers for something I’d like to see ‘prettying up’ a cake!

The cake balls looked mighty fine once I’d dipped them in ganache.  I was proud of them.  Until the CCD (Caked Crusader’s Da) referred to them as ‘chew balls’ which made them sound like something you should give to a dog!

I scaled up my normal cheesecake quantities to go up a tin size for this one – I wanted plenty of slices so everyone could indulge on the day and also take slices home to enjoy at a later date.  There’s only one thing better than birthday cheesecake, and that’s post-birthday cheesecake...the gift that keeps on giving!

This might be another example of a ‘just me then?’ moment, but when I am tipping the entire contents of the Philly cream cheese out the tub I see it as a mark of failure to use a spoon or knife.  Instead, I invert the pot and gently squeeze it tempting the cheese to slide out whole.  I view myself as some sort of cheese whisperer and take it personally when the cheese doesn’t act on my encouragement.

For the cheesecake:
375g chocolate digestive biscuits
150g unsalted butter
1 vanilla pod
900g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
150g icing sugar
450ml double cream

For the chocolate sponge(this made 24 pops):
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk
Optional: 50g chocolate chips

Chocolate cheesecake filling:
300g chocolate cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
50g icing sugar
150ml double cream

For the ganache glaze:
140ml whipping cream
2 tablespoon caster sugar
130g dark chocolate

To decorate: sprinkles

Place the ring from a 23cm round springform tin on the plate you’ll server the cheesecake from. Wrap the ring in either clingfilm or greaseproof paper to ensure that you can free the cheesecake easily.
Break the biscuits into crumbs – either in a food processor or with the bag and rolling pin method (i.e. place biscuits in a bag. Secure end. Bash with rolling pin)
If using the food processor method add the butter to the crumbs and pulse it until the butter is distributed. If using the bag method, melt the butter and stir in.
Use the crumbs to line the base of the cheesecake. Press them down onto the plate but not so hard that you create biscuity concrete!
Now make the sponges: Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
Spray your pan with cake release or grease using your preferred ingredient i.e. butter.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, flour, cocoa and milk.
When the mixture is smooth and well combined, stir in the chocolate chips, if using.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin.
Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean.
Remove from the tin as soon as possible and leave to cool on a wire rack – removing from the tin is important, as the heat of the tin will mean that the tiny sponges continue to (over)cook.
When cool use a cupcake corer (or apple corer) to remove some of the sponge.
Using the same method for the cheesecake topping below (basically beat all the ingredients together until thick!), make the chocolate cheesecake and pipe into the hollowed out sponges. 
Pipe any leftover chocolate cheesecake mix onto the biscuit base.

Refrigerate for an hour.
Stand half of the chocolate sponges on the cheesecake base, leave the other half to make into cake pops.
Now make the main body of the cheesecake: Slice the vanilla pod in half and remove the seeds.
Place seeds in a bowl along with the cream cheese and icing sugar and beat until smooth and well combined.
Pour in the cream and beat until the mixture is completely combined.
Spoon over the biscuit base and level.  Make sure you press the cheesecake into the crevices between the chocolate sponges.
Leave to set overnight in the refrigerator.
Now make the ganache: Place the cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to almost boiling point.

Remove from the heat and add the chocolate.

Leave it to stand for a minute before stirring and bringing the chocolate and cream together.  At first it will look runny but keep stirring and it will become thick and glossy.

Leave to cool for ten minutes or more, or the glaze might be too runny to hold on the cakes.

Dip the top of the cakes into the glaze, add sprinkle of choice, and then put them back on the cooling tray to set.  The glaze will cover the top of the cake but the sides should remain clean so you can see the sponge....of course, the odd drip or spill is not going to offend anyone!

Remove the cheese cake from the fridge and pour the remaining ganache over the top.

Return to the refrigerator.

Remove the cheesecake from the fridge about 30 minutes (depending on your weather conditions!) before you wish to serve and remove the ring from the edge.

Place your mini cakes on sticks and insert into the cheesecake.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Cake balls, four ways

I have resisted the phenomenon that is cake pops because I can never get past the line in the method that instructs you to break the cake into crumbs. I wouldn’t need buttercream to bind the crumbs; my tears (caused by such wanton vandalism) would do the job. But I have to admit I do like the look of them, the size of them and their versatility.

Enter Lakeland with their cake ball machine
. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a plug in counter-top machine that bakes small amounts of sponge mix into balls in less than 5 minutes. Impressive, non? And you get all the joy of a cake ball without having to desecrate the sponge.

I found that lifting the balls out was easy if you used two cocktail sticks; they are small enough so as not to tear the sponge:

For my first dalliance with this machine I kept it simple. All the cake balls are made from the same tried-and-tested vanilla cupcake sponge recipe
. Some I rolled in jam and coconut for a classic English Madeleine:

When I rolled the balls in the hot jam I just had to photograph them as they looked so beautiful – almost like plums:

Others were rolled in chocolate ganache
and chopped nuts:

As you can see, the sponge is a lovely texture; I was really impressed with this little machine:

For the citrus lovers amongst my eatership I rolled the sponge in lemon drizzle mix
so that the whole ball was covered in the thin crusty glaze (it pains me to say it, but these were voted the favourites on the day – even by only casual lemon-eaters):

And finally, so no one had any grumbles, I cut some in half and sandwiched them with peanut butter cheesecake

Serving them in mini cupcake cases gave the air of a box of truffles – a really cute look with no need for any decorating skills at all:

Ingredients and method

Obviously, the quantities will vary depending how many cake balls you wish to make. Here are the basic quantities that you can scale up or down based on your needs.

For the cupcake sponge (this will make 12 normal sized cupcakes or 32 cake balls):
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
1 tablespoon milk

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the vanilla

Beat in the eggs, flour, and milk.

When the mixture is smooth and well combined, spoon teaspoonfuls of batter into the oiled (I used Dr Oetker cake release spray and – contrary to the cake ball maker’s instructions found that I didn’t need to reapply) cake ball maker. It’s important to work quickly and cleanly – if you drip batter anywhere other than the holes you will find you don’t get nice clean cake balls.

Bake for 4 minutes or until the balls are firm. Mine took exactly 4 minutes and the easiest way I found to remove them from the machine was to spear them lightly with 2 cocktail sticks and lift them out.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

When they are cool, gently pick off any surplus batter that makes them look like Saturn with its rings!

Now the fun bit – decorating!

For the Madeleine version (enough for 16 balls):
Heat some jam (I used almost a whole jar of raspberry) and roll the balls in it.

Roll in a approx 100g of desiccated coconut.

For the chocolate ganache (enough for 16 balls):
125g dark chocolate – I used half dark, half milk
150ml double cream
100g chopped nuts

Place the chocolate, broken into chunks, in a heatproof bowl.

Heat the cream to boiling point, then immediately pour over the chocolate.

Leave to stand for a couple of minutes then stir until it is smooth and well combined.

Leave to cool and firm up before rolling the balls in it.

Roll the balls in chopped nuts.

For the lemon drizzle (enough for 16 balls):
2 lemons – zest and juice
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Icing sugar – enough to make a runny icing; the quantity required will depend on the juiciness of your lemon!

Place the lemon zest, juice and caster sugar in a bowl and beat in enough icing sugar to make a thin, extremely runny icing. (The reason for using caster as well as icing sugar is that the caster won’t sink into the cake and leaves a lovely light sugar crust on the top of the cake).

Pierce the cake balls all over – I used a cocktail stick for this.

Sit the balls in the glaze and leave them to absorb the lemon for 5 minutes or so.

Use a fork to lift the balls out and let the excess glaze run off.

For the cheesecake (easily enough for 32 balls – I only used it for 16 and spread the rest on digestive biscuits as a tasty treat!):
150g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia

25g icing sugar
70ml double cream
2-3 tablespoons peanut butter and add more to taste

Beat together all the ingredients except for the peanut butter.

When you have a smooth consistency spoon beat in the peanut butter.

Cut the cake ball in half and spoon or pipe a ring of cheesecake around one flat surface.

Press together with the other sponge half.

Refrigerate until you wish to serve.

Serve in small paper cases or on sticks.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.