Christmas Cranberry Creamy Cheesecake

20

Prep Time: 7 Hr 0 Mins

Cook Time: 2 Hr 0 Mins

Makes: 10

Ingredients

Crust

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Filling

4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

Topping

2 cups, 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
5 1/2 cups cranberries (about 79 oz), rinsed and divided
2-3 oranges, peel of l, freshly squeezed (l/2 cup juice)
1 1.4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
fresh mint, to garnish

Instructions

Crust

  1. Heat oven to 325 F degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, using a fork, mix graham crackers, sugar, cinnamon, and butter until well combined and moistened. Lightly spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Add prepared graham crackers, pressing evenly and firmly onto the bottom (using a ramekin or the bottom of a glass). Bake until crust is lightly golden, 8 minutes. Remove to cool.
  3. Decrease the oven to 225 F degrees, opening the door to help drop the internal temperature for a few minutes. Check the temperature read with an oven thermometer, once 225 degrees F., is reached, close the door. {Note: this is a very important step, to ensure the oven is at the proper temperature, so the cheesecake doesn’t crack}

Filling

  1. How to make the cheesecake filling: in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla extract until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time until blended. Scraping down the sides and bottom cavity of the bowl, re-mixing until smooth.
  2. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the cooled graham cracker crust. Bake until set with a slight wiggle in the center, 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door ajar to vent, leaving the cheesecake inside for 15 minutes. {This step prepares the cheesecake for room temperature, so it doesn’t crack}.

Topping

  1. Stir 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a 2-quart pot over high heat until dissolved. Bring to a bubble and cook until slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove to cool. This is for the garnish.
  2. Add 3 1 / 2 cups (12 ounces) cranberries, 3 / 4 cup sugar, orange peel, fresh orange juice, cinnamon and salt into a 1 0″ skillet over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a bubble and cook until the berries burst, and the sauce begins to thicken, 8 to 10 minutes. Be careful it does not bubble over! You can help it along by bursting the berries with a potato masher or with the back of a spoon. Once it begins to thicken, reduce the heat to medium-low and keep stirring until thickened like a jam for about 2 minutes. Do not let the sauce stick!
  3. Remove the cranberry sauce into the blender (with the orange peel) and blend until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on top of the cranberry sauce, so it does not form a skin. Once it cools, refrigerate for 5 hours overnight.
  4. Toss and coat 2 cups of cranberries into the cooled simple syrup. Cover and refrigerate, 5 hours overnight.
  5. Remove the cheesecake to a cooling rack to fully cool at room temperature, about 2 hours. Cover the springform pan with a clean kitchen towel, not touching the cake, tightly fitting under the pan and refrigerate until completely set, 5 hours overnight. (This prevents condensation from forming and dripping onto the cake).

Decorating

  1. Strain the cranberries from the simple syrup into a strainer, reserving the simple syrup. Bottle it up and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It is great to make cocktails or to sweeten iced tea. Add the sticky cranberries onto a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining 5 to 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar all over them and toss to evenly coat.
  2. Run a butter knife around the perimeter of the springform pan and remove the cheesecake to a cake stand or plate. Stir the cranberry sauce until smooth and evenly spread on top of the cheesecake, using an off-set spatula. Re-toss and shake off the excess sugar from the cranberries and top on the cheesecake. You can prepare this up to 1 hour ahead and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Garnish with mint, if you’d like, and then cut into ten slices.

 

Pro Tips

For a silky-smooth cranberry sauce, after blending, transfer the sauce into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and stir it through, removing any solids and grainy texture.

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