Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pops

I'm kind-of a cheesecake freak. I like almost anything to do with cheesecake. You may recall that I am not a fan of pie, so every year at Thanksgiving time, I make a pumpkin cheesecake. Well, this year I will be in Connecticut for Thanksgiving, so I decided to bake my cheesecake early and make it into these cute little treats! This is my Aunt Vicki's pumpkin cheesecake recipe, and it is SO big and dense and creamy and good. But, the dense part is what makes it work well in these cute little pumpkin cheesecake pops!

First you start out by baking the cheesecake, without a crust. The crust is not needed for these sweet babies. You just want that creamy, yummy center.

Aunt Vicki's Pumpkin Cheesecake (sans crust)

2 lbs (4 packages) Cream Cheese at room temperature (NO lite cream cheese!)

1 ½ C sugar

5 Eggs

¼ C flour

2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 15 oz can Libby’s Canned Pumpkin (I always use Libby's because it is consistently the same

color and flavor, while other brands are not)

Set out cream cheese and eggs a few hours before you are going to make the cheesecake. You want everything at room temperature to avoid lumps! Wrap the bottom (the outside of the pan) of a 9 inch spring form pan with foil. Because this cheesecake doesn't have a crust, some filling may leak out the bottom of your pan. Preheat oven to 350. Whip cream cheese until fluffy, then add sugar and eggs, one at a time. Beat well, and then gradually add flour and pumpkin pie spice. Mix in pumpkin and pour into pan (no need to grease). Bake for 1 hour and 30-45 minutes, or until center is firm. You want to avoid browning the cheesecake too much because the creamy center part makes the best pops, so try not to over bake it. It's fine if it's still a little wiggily in the middle, but definitely not really wiggily or liquidy. Cool cheesecake and chill in the refrigerator over night.

Before starting the cheesecake balls, first make sure that you have enough room and clearance for a cookie sheet or other pan with sucker sticks sticking out of the top in your freezer. Next, take your small or medium sized cookie scoop and scoop out balls of cheesecake. Roll them into pretty balls and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Then, stick a cute dowel or sucker stick into each one. (You can do these more like truffles and omit the sucker stick,
but the stick makes these super easy to dip!) Freeze for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Once the cheesecake centers are frozen, you can dip them in white or milk chocolate. Refer to my Chocolate 101 tips for melting and dipping info! Because the pops are frozen, the chocolate will set really quick, so I would suggest making sure that your chocolate is pretty melty. If it starts to thicken up, it will coat the pops too thick, and then the chocolate may crack. So, every now and then, pop your chocolate back into the microwave for a few seconds to keep it nice and smooth. Also, if you're going to use cute sprinkles, you need to work quickly before the coating is set up. I rolled the white chocolate pops in these cute little sprinkles, but I wouldn't suggest doing this. It made that part of the pop really crunchy, so if you want to decorate them with sprinkles, just sprinkle them on.

These pops are so fun and SO delicious. I love that you can make the cheesecake a few days ahead of time and get the pops to a frozen stage, and then just dip 'em when you have a minute. It really is a very easy process, and not too time consuming if you spread it over a couple of days. I made 24 pops using my small cookie scoop, then I used some of the rest of the cheesecake to make pumpkin cheesecake milkshakes (and I wonder why I gained 5 lbs in the past 2 weeks! ) So, you could probably get more like 30 out of this recipe. Kids and adults can't resist these! Make them for a fun Thanksgiving day treat!

Mmmm...the cheesecaky middle....mmmm.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yummy Yummy Yams

Since I can remember, my mom would make the Thanksgiving day yams from real, baked, yams. I think that they taste so much better than the canned yams that lots of people use. Yams are easy to bake and really don't take that much more time than the canned variety. My husband is a sucker for toasted marshmallows on top (and really, who isn't?), but of course, you can make these without the extra little clouds of sugar on top!

The great thing about this dish is that you can make it a day or two in advance and then bake it and add the marshmallows just before dinner.

Yummy Yummy Yams

2 large Sweet Potatoes/Yams (about 2 lbs)

¼ C + 1 Tbs. Brown Sugar

2 oz (1/4 C) chopped pecans (optional)

1 apple, finely chopped

¼ C Butter (1/2 stick)

Mini Marshmallows (optional)

Line a large baking pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil. If the yams are very large, cut them into big chunks so that they will roast evenly. Bake yams at 350 until softened, 1 1/2 -2 hours. Remove yams from the oven and let them sit until slightly cooled. Remove skins and put the yams into a large bowl. Mash cooked yams with the butter and brown sugar. Then, stir in the pecans and apple. Mix well and pour into a greased 8x8 baking dish. (At this point, the yams may be stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days.) Bake yams at 350 for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. If desired, just before serving, top the yams with mini marshmallows and place under the broiler until the marshmallows are toasted. Don’t leave marshmallows unattended! Serve immediately. Makes 8 side dish servings.