October 12, 2011 | 11:08am
With the Arizona State Fair headed our way at week's end, we at Chow Bella decided on our latest challenge: Create a "fair food" that kicks it up a notch. No one dared to cook with bugs, but we did have some creative entries. Check back later this week, when critic Laura Hahnefeld will choose her favorite.
Today's entry: Erica O'Neil's Cheesecake Choco-Berries
The deep-fried bonanza of state fairs is questionable at best: Fried bubblegum, fried butter, fried Kool-Aid, fried Oreos, fried Coke, fried Twinkies.... What people will deep fry never ceases to amaze us. But in between bouts of fry bread and funnel cake, we need to de-grease with something we can justify as "healthy."
We're lucky there's never a shortage of dipped fruit-on-a-stick at fairs. Caramel apples, chocolate-dipped strawberries and frozen choco-nanas make us feel just a bit less gluttonous, even if they are just glorified sugar bombs on a stick.
Find out just exactly what Erica dipped in chocolate -- and get the recipe -- after the jump.
But this being a fair food challenge, we couldn't rely on tired choco-berries as a suitable entry. Instead, we thought it would be tasty to combine the richness of choco-dipped cheesecake-on-a-stick with our favorite way to eat our berries. Thus Cheesecake Choco-Berries on a stick were created. And what a glorious creation they were.
To make Cheesecake Choco-Berries we like to use an easy-peasy cream cheesy filling and instead of just using melted chocolate, up the flavor with a rich and buttery dark chocolate icing.
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/3 cup of powdered sugar (more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp apple pie liqueur for a festive fall flavor (optional)
Cream the powdered sugar and cream cheese with a mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients, and adjust the amounts to until you think it tastes good. This also makes a tasty dip for fruit chunks if you have any left over.
Chocolate Dip (Martha Stewart's Dark Chocolate Frosting recipe makes five cups, so you'll probably want to cut down on the amount you choose to make):
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (we used Ghirardelli)
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp boiling water
4 1/2 sticks butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 pounds melted bittersweet chocolate (again, we used Ghirardelli)
Mix the cocoa and boiling water until smooth and let cool. Using a mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate and cocoa mixture. Warm slightly when ready to use to make dipping easier.
To Assemble the Cheesecake Choco-Berries:
Cut the tops of a whole carton of strawberries and hollow them out using a paring knife. Place cheesecake mixture in a plastic baggie and pipe into each hollowed strawberry (we used a mini cupcake tin to keep the berries upright). Insert stick and refrigerate cheesecake berries until firm. After that, just dip the berries in chocolate and place them on parchment paper. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs for a bit of extra cheesecake flavor.