It’s been awhile since I managed to successfully complete a Daring Bakers challenge. I tried the yule log back in December, but my gluten-free, vegan version fell apart and I just didn’t have the heart to post my mess. But I’m back!

This month’s challenge was posed by Elle of Feeding my Enthusiasms and Deborah of Taste and Tell. They found a cute concept recipe based on turning cheesecake into bite-sized pops on a stick (or something like that).

I originally planned on making the recipe as written (all dairy/egg ingredients included), but decided at the last minute to veganize it, because, really, I wanted to eat it too. This might have been a mistake though…I ate waaay more of the cute, little, enticing cheesecake bites than I should have.

Unfortunately I had a few time constraints (I started making the pops on Sunday afternoon for a Sunday night potluck) and couldn’t find any lollipop stick things, but the end product (post-multiple-freezes) was delicious, apparently non-vegan tasting, and quickly eaten by my potlucking friends.

As always, go check out the now-plethora of Daring Bakers to see what everyone came up with!

Vegan Cheesecake Bites

For the cheesecake:
2 14 oz package firm silken tofu (NoriMu)
2 8 oz package Tofutti cream cheese
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy milk
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
4 tbsp cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place silken tofu and vegan cream cheese in the food processor. Process for 1 minute, then add sugar. Process until smooth and no sugar granules remain, 3-5 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the soy milk and vanilla and almond extracts. Pour mixture into the food processor and process until very smooth. Pour into a foil lined 9″ springform pan and bake for an hour and a half.

Allow to cool at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours. (I sliced the cheesecake into squares instead of scooping balls.)

For the chocolate coat:
8 oz vegan chocolate (I use Baker’s semi-sweet baking squares)
2-4 Tbsp Earth Balance

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the Earth Balance, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and butter are combined. Stir until completely smooth. (Add more Earth Balance if needed to get a more viscous consistency. I ended up adding a few tablespoons of soymilk because my bites weren’t frozen and collapsed in the heat of the chocolate.) Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Quickly dip a fr
ozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.