“Hello, my name is Lynne and I am a Daring Baker. It was just a casual thing to do, I could stop anytime I wanted,right? Well, I got in deeper and deeper and now I’m addicted” Sound familiar? I agonized over missing last month’s challenge, the beautiful party cake. I even bought Dorie’s book, Baking From My Home to Yours and vowed at the next special occasion in my family, I would bake the cake. This month’s challenge is Cheesecake Pops, chosen by Deborah and Elle, both have beautiful blogs with great photos and tasty looking recipes. The Cheesecake Pops recipe comes from Jill O’Connor’s book, Sticky Chewy, Messy, Gooey -Desserts For the Sweet Tooth, another book to put on my ever-growing lists of must haves.A great make ahead dessert, the pops seem time-consuming, but can be accomplished over two days. The cheesecake is baked, then chilled for several hours before scooping out the 2 ounce balls. The balls are then frozen for several more hours before dipping them in the chocolate. Since Memorial Day and the Fourth of July are our next holidays in the USA, I chose a red, white and blue theme for decorating my cheesecake pops. Cheesecake PopsMakes 30 – 40 Pops5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature2 cups sugar¼ cup all-purpose flour¼ teaspoon salt5 large eggs2 egg yolks2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract¼ cup heavy creamBoiling water as neededThirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionery coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)2 tablespoons vegetable shortening(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) – OptionalPosition oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to 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.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 shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. 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.Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.Quickly dip a frozen 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 confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.