Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Recipe

I made a Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake to bring to the Holiday Luncheon at work. I make this cheesecake every year for Christmas and usually for Thanksgiving too.  This cheesecake is always well-received and gobbled up by guests. The tartness of the cranberries compliments the creaminess of the cheesecake. 

If you are seeking a unique dessert to bring to Christmas parties or to serve your guests, I strongly suggest this one. 

Recipe directions are italicized.
Preparation time: 90 minutes plus baking time.
Ingredients and Supplies:
9 inch springform pan
measuring cups and spoons
large spoon
conventional oven 
2 1/4 cups of crumbs 
3/4 stick unsalted melted butter
Cranberry Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
1 ounce of Orange Liqueur
24 ounces of cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

First things first, preheat oven to 350F. Now one must prepare the crust. Crushed Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux Cookies are suggested but I used traditional graham cracker crumbs. These can be purchased pre-crushed or you may crush your own. 
The Bordeaux cookies are difficult to crush fine enough. I have tried those before and graham cracker crumbs seem to work better, although I have to say the flavor of the Bordeaux is quite good.

  • Mix 2 1/4 cups of crumbs with 3/4 stick of unsalted melted butter in a bowl with a fork. 
  • Press crumb mixture into the bottom and up 1 inch of the sides of the lightly greased springform pan. 

The crumbs will not appear to be very moist but they are. Trust me. 
If you add more butter, it will run out the springform pan while you bake the crust and make an ungodly mess in the bottom of your oven and perhaps start a grease fire. Be careful not to add too much butter! 
Baked crust
While your crust is baking in the oven, make your cranberry sauce. 

  • Add 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves and bring to a boil. 
  • Add one 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries and return to boil. Reduce heat to slow boil, stirring occasionally. Cranberries will "pop" as they cook. 
  • While stirring crush cranberries against side of pan to help them along. Do not allow cranberries to burn or stick. 
  • Once the berries have popped, add one shot of Orange Liqueur to sauce. Cook an additional 2 minutes stirring frequently. 

Cranberries cooking
Canned whole berry cranberry sauce may be used, however, I recommend making your own from fresh cranberries. It is quite easily done and tastes so much better. 
**If you opt for canned sauce, place it in a blender or processor with cinnamon and cloves. Blend well. Forgo the liqueur as the alcohol will not have the chance to cook off.**

While the cranberries are bubbling on the stove, start your cheesecake filling. Pause in mixing the filling to stir the cranberries.
  • Place 24 ounces of softened cream cheese in bowl and beat until smooth. Add 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Beat smooth. 
  • Add 4 large eggs, one at a time, mixing in completely between additions. 
  • Mix in 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract.   

Completed batter
When your sauce is done, remove it from the heat to cool and thicken more. Sauce will still be somewhat warm when you are ready to add it to the batter. Do not refrigerate to cool or it will become to firm to effectively swirl.
Finished cranberry sauce

  • Fill your completely cooled crust with half of the cheesecake batter. 
  • Use 1/2 cup of the cranberry sauce and spoon onto the top of the batter. 
  • Use a knife to gently create swirls by dragging it through the dropped cranberry. 

If you swirl to vigorously it will mix into the batter instead of swirling.
Half the batter and dropped sauce
 After dragging the knife through it should look something like this. 
Half the batter and swirled sauce

  • Pour the remaining batter over the swirled batter. 
  • Again use 1/2 cup of sauce to dot the top and gently swirl with the knife.  

You will have cranberry sauce remaining. Use this as garnish or topping to serve cheesecake.
Ready for the oven

  • Put your cheesecake into the oven and bake at 350F for 15 minutes. 
  • Then reduce the heat to 225F and bake for an additional 1 hour and 10 minutes. Turn the oven off. 
  • When your cake is done baking remove it from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edge to ease removal from the springform pan. 
  • Return the cake to the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour. 
  • Remove from oven and place on wire rack. 
  • Allow to completely cool before refrigerating. Cake will continue to become firm as it cools. 

My cheesecake cooling on a wire rack. 

While the time to prepare everything for the oven seems lengthy, it is worth it. Pre-made purchased cheesecake is no where near as good. 

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake was a huge hit at the Holiday Party. It disappeared in no time! 

Please let me know if you give this cheesecake a try. I would love to hear how it turns out!