The literal translation into Italian of cheesecake would be torta di formaggio. I decided to leave the original word in the title, because it indicates a specific dessert and I have seen it used by Italian food bloggers. Su bastoncino means on a stick. A gelato su bastoncino (or gelato su stecco, where stecco also means stick) is a Popsicle made with ice cream. If made with ice, it would be a ghiacciolo (literally, icicle). As it usually happens, this month's Daring Bakers' challenge was an adventure, compliments of hosts Deborah of Taste and Tell and Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms.
I am not sure why I always manage to get into trouble when executing the challenge, but it happened once again. Recipes that generate a big output are a problem for me, because there is only two of us in the family, and it is not always easy to share the product of my efforts with many people. The additional challenge this month was that I don't like cheesecake made with cream cheese, because I don't like cream cheese. I remember when cream cheese became available in Italy: Philadelphia was the brand name and the same name became a generic term to refer to the product. My dislike for cream cheese dates back to my first encounter with it, a long time ago.
However, knowing that I would not be tasting the result of my efforts did not prevent me from devoting my energy into making it a success. Maybe that's the problem: I want to make it work and end up in trouble. Thanks to a note by the hosts, I was able to comfortably half the dose. Making the New York style (don't ask me what it means1) cheesecake was easy. I baked it for close to an hour, and it came out pretty nice. So far, so good.
When I asked my husband to please go to the hardware store and get me some lollipop sticks he thought I was joking. I wasn't. The recipe clearly states to use those, instead of Popsicle sticks, because the cheesecake pops are small. And what made me think they would have such a thing at the hardware store? He countered. They do have a lot of kitchen items, so they may have bastoncini per lecca-lecca (lollipop, literally lick-lick) He was not convinced. I told him I took full responsibility for sending him on such an esoteric errand and he left. He came back with a package of lollipop sticks complete with individual plastic wrappers and twist ties. I felt one step closer to success. I didn't realize the real challenge was still ahead.
Shaping the pops was messy, to put it mildly. It didn't help that the smell of cheesecake, after a short while, was overwhelming for my olfactory cells. I completed this step, but my creativity was not at its best. The fact that, in general, I am not good at working on the details of food presentation certainly did not help. One positive thing was that I made 18 pops and there were exactly 18 sticks in the package my husband had got me, so I did not have any leftover cheesecake. Melting the chocolate and covering the pops was not difficult. I worked with a small quantity of dark chocolate at a time, did not use any shortening, and kept the additional messiness reasonably under control. The keyword here is 'reasonably': if you have a picture of a spotless stove and kitchen counter in your mind, hit Delete.
It was with understandable trepidation that I offered the chilled and chocolate-covered (ricoperti di cioccolato) cheesecake pops to my husband and a friend of ours as dessert. Was I prepared to witness the structural disaster? Good thing I did not try to offer the cheesecake pops at a party! Fortunately, both tasters had a plate at hand: it was needed to gather the falling pieces of the pop after the first fateful bite. My husband did not like his morsel. Our friend, though not enthusiastic about it, offered me a way out by suggesting some berry sauce to offset the cheesiness (here I am using cheesiness in its literal meaning).
I washed and hulled two cups of fresh fragole (strawberries), then pureed them in the food processor with a tablespoon of fine sugar and one of orange juice to make a pleasantly smelling sauce that I offered to our friend so he could try it over one of the remaining pops. At this point, I decided that the sticks could be dispensed with and each pop was demoted to regular piece of cheesecake on a plate. The salsa di fragole (strawberry sauce) was much appreciated and I have to say that the combination of colors (cheesecake yellow, strawberries red and chocolate brown) was rather eye-pleasing (sorry, no picture).
As usual, the challenge was a good learning experience, for which I am thankful to Deborah and Elle. The recipe we all followed, taken from "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey" by Jill O’Connor, is available here. Make sure you use the Daring Bakers blogroll to guide you to look at the fabulous creations that were baked, shaped, dipped and decorated around the world by my fellow Daring Bakers scattered around the world.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the cheesecake su bastoncino audio file [mp3].
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