Cranberry Cheesecake

Back in my Thanksgiving post, I mentioned a new cheesecake recipe I tried this year to spice up the dessert table without going too wild…I mean we can’t go without the traditional pumpkin and pecan flavors, let’s be serious here.  I am very happy with this sweet addition to the dessert choices, though my photos DO NOT at all exemplify the yummy success.  Note to self, New Year’s resolution #1: learn how to take better photos with appropriate light (one day Tastespotting and Food Gawker will accept my submissions)!!!
Anywhoooo, I would have much preferred a photo like this:

Regardless, this recipe is totally worth sharing, and would make a lovely addition to your Christmas dessert table, if you are still looking for something!

For the cranberry purée:
2 cups fresh cranberries or frozen, thawed
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in heavy large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly, about 10 minutes, then transfer to food processor. Add vanilla and puree until smooth. Strain into medium bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 6 hours.

For the crust:
2 3/4 cups finely ground graham honey crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Spray 10-inch-diameter springform pan with nonstick spray or coat with butter. Wrap outside of pan with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. Blend graham crackers, sugar and cinnamon in processor. Add butter; blend until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of pan. Chill crust while preparing filling.

For the filling:
4 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla and blend well.

Transfer 1/3 of filling to prepared crust. Dollop 1/3 of cranberry puree atop filling. Repeat layering of filling and puree 2 more times. Using knife, swirl puree through filling, creating marbled design.

Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until cheesecake puffs around edges, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off oven and let the cake stand in oven 1 hour, leaving oven door ajar.  Transfer to a rack and run a knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Let cool completely, at least 2 hours. Remove foil from pan sides. Cover cake and chill overnight. Can be made 2 days ahead and kept refrigerated.

for cranberry compote topping:
2 cups fresh cranberries
¾ cup (packed) golden brown sugar
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in heavy medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until cranberries burst and mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours.

When ready to serve the cheesecake, remove pan sides, spread the top with cranberry compote and serve!

Serves: 12
Time: 40 minutes hands-on prep + baking & cooling time (3+ hours) + chilling overnight
Adapted from: Bon Appetit via Epicurious

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