Introduction: Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Bites

This is one of those family favorites that started out on a family vacation. We were in the Wisconsin Dells. Very touristy spot. The kids were having a blast--only 5 or 6 years old at the time. It was hot. We stopped at an ice cream shop. The menu board said "cheesecake on a stick". I had to try it.

Cheesecake on a stick is a large wedge (too large??) of cheesecake with a popsicle stick shoved into the crust edge, frozen, then dipped in chocolate. I suggest that it was too big since it took 3 of us to eat the whole thing--even on a hot day.

My solution was to make it smaller.

Just a word of advice. If you are making these to take somewhere, you must announce your intentions to each individual in the house before you start. Otherwise they will not be able to resist tasting and once you start eating them...

Step 1: The Cheesecake Ingredients

Small batch:
two 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Large batch:
one 3 pound block of cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

I am usually forced to make a large batch--family festivities, school functions, several people wanting their own personal stash.

Step 2: Preparing Your Pan

Line your pan with heavy duty foil. If you are making a large batch, use a cookie sheet with 4 sides or a jelly roll pan. For a small batch, use a 9 inch square pan. (I have a silicon mat that was cut to fit in a 9 inch pan--this was the first time I used it for this--worked even better than foil. (I used regular foil once--not good--tears too easily.)

Crust (optional): Small batch--crush one sleeve of Graham crackers. Large batch--crush two sleeves. Mix the crumbs with enough melted butter to make everything wet. Press into the bottom only of your lined pan. (This particular batch that I am making is crust-less.)

My family is divided on the crust issue. The original (ice cream place in the Dells) had a crust. Some of my family prefer either with or without a crust; others claim it is equally good both ways. I personally prefer not to have a crust.

Step 3: Making the Filling

I leave the cream cheese on the counter until it softens a bit--makes mixing a bit easier. Beat the cream cheese with a mixer. Add the sugar and beat some more. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat again. Add the vanilla--I usually don't even bother to measure the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of your bowl one last time just to make sure it is all mixed well.

Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake at 325 degrees (Fahrenheit) for as long as it takes to set the middle of the cheesecake. The time depends on how thick the layer of filling is--about 25 minutes for a small batch, longer for a large batch. The outer edge may turn golden brown. This is ok.

Cool completely.

Step 4: Cut Into Pieces

Lift the foil out of the pan. Peel the foil off the sides.

Cut the cheesecake into bite sized (or 2 bite) pieces.

Separate the pieces and place them on a cookie sheet with at least a tiny gap between each piece. I tried freezing these after just cutting them one time. I only did it once. It was very difficult to separate the individual pieces once the whole thing was frozen.

Put the cookie sheet(s) in the freezer for an hour.

Step 5: Chocolate Covering the Cheesecake

Leave the cheesecake in the freezer while you melt the chocolate. I use candy bark--comes in milk chocolate and white chocolate. I have used both for this and both are good. I prefer the milk chocolate. Choose the chocolate that you like--I just like how easy it is to use the bark. Also, my father said that as he got older, he became sensitive to chocolate. He could tell if I used the bark or 'real' chocolate. As far as I know, he was the only one who could tell the difference.

I microwave the chocolate on 15 second bursts until it is just melted. You can use a double boiler--just don't let any water get in the chocolate.

Drop the frozen cheesecake into the chocolate one at a time. Pull each out as soon as possible. Set it on a tray and let it dry. It will not take long for the cold cheesecake to harden the thin layer of chocolate. (This is not a good time to have a helper in the kitchen with you--especially a hungry helper. A third of this batch disappeared while I was still dipping them.)

Store in a Ziploc in the freezer. Serve frozen or thawed. For a party, fill a large bowl with ice and place the bites in a smaller bowl on top. It is pretty if you mix the milk and white chocolate bites in the same bowl.

I really don't know how long they last in the freezer. They usually disappear in a few days. I did give a gallon sized Ziploc to a friend once. He was diabetic so he controlled his sweets. Eating only one or two a day, he said they lasted at least a month--but he ran out before they went bad.
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