By the time Christmas or New Year’s comes you might not have the energy for a dessert just for the holiday dinner. This especially if you’ve entertained or baked throughout the season and simply feel all the cookies and goodies you’ve gotten through the kitchen must certainly be enough. If that’s the case, and you’ve frozen a few of each of your favorites, pull them out and arrange them in loving fashion on your favorite platter and call it quits. If, however, you haven’t worn your dear baking self out by now, make my gorgeous cranberry compote cheesecake. Even if you’re not a baker at heart, this is a fairly easy endeavor as long as you have a 9-inch springform pan and said ingredients.
There’s no special skill needed to make a cheesecake. The filling can be made with a hand-held electric mixer, a standing mixer, or with my favorite machine, the food processor. If you’ve strong arms or can borrow some, and have your cream cheese truly at close to warm room temperature, you can make this with no machines at all. Imagine. (I went without an electric mixer for many years of my baking life, so I know wherein I speak.) You can crush the graham crackers in a bag with a rolling pin or a hammer. If you’ve any sauce pan at all, you can make the cranberry topping. So go ahead. Start now; it’s better really well-chilled and keeps for days and days. Baking blessings, friend.
Music to bake by: Stream holiday music 24-7 on Minnesota MPR. And Merry Christmas from Tucker and Rosie….
CRANBERRY-CITRUS CHEESECAKE WITH CINNAMON-NUTMEG GRAHAM CRUST
While simple to put together, this cake does have three parts: the graham cracker crumb crust, the filling, and the topping. Read through entire recipe before beginning. Cake must be chilled at least one day before serving. The warm cranberry topping is spread on a cold cake and the cake is refrigerated at least another two hours before serving. If necessary, you could make the topping ahead, refrigerate it, and warm it up just before topping the cake. Want to make ahead and freeze? Untopped cheesecake can be made ahead, chilled, and frozen for up to one month. Cheesecake is a dessert that freezes perfectly. Unthaw overnight in the fridge covered tightly, uncover, top with warm cranberry topping, and then chill again for two hours before slicing and serving.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and place oven rack in center of oven.
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons soft butter
Mix together until very-well combined (food processor works well) and press into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
Cream Cheese Filling:
I like a food processor best to make the filling, but an electric mixer will work just fine, too. So will strong arms.
- 4 packages (8 ounces each) softened cream cheese at room temp
- 1 tablespoon each: fresh lemon juice and fresh orange juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated orange rind
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- 5 eggs at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream at room temperature
Beat/process cream cheese until very smooth and beat in juices and extract. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl. In a small bowl or mixing cup, stir together the sugar with the orange and lemon rinds, flour, and salt. Slowly pour the sugar mixture into the cream cheese mixture with the food processor running or while beating. Add eggs, beating at medium speed all the while, one at a time and beat/process until very light and fluffy. Blend in sour cream. Scrape down sides of bowl. Beat/process just a bit more at low speed to make sure the filling is very-well mixed.
Pour filling into the chilled crust, place pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake until tester comes out nearly clean — another 45-55 minutes.
Place on cooling rack and cool completely. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. Smooth warm cranberry-orange topping (recipe below) over the top and refrigerate another two hours. Release the side of the pan, slice, and serve.
- 1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
- 2 whole oranges, cut into 2-inch pieces, unpeeled
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cranberry juice (can sub red wine or water)
- 3/4 cup sugar or more to taste
Place all of the topping ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to simmer and, stirring often, cook until very thick, perhaps 20 minutes or more. Taste. If too sour for you, add another 2 tablespoons sugar, return to heat for a few minutes, stirring, and taste again. Remove from heat and remove orange pieces and cinnamon stick before spreading warm on thoroughly-chilled cheesecake. (Cake must be chilled another two hours before serving.)
To prevent cracks in your cheesecake, slide a knife around the edge of the cake after it’s out of the oven or place a pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven while baking.
If your cheesecake still cracks, it’s simple to fix; click here for directions. As the topping for this cheesecake will cover the top of the cake, it’s not critical; it might be, though, for an untopped cake.
If you like this recipe, you might like my post on Mom’s Turtle Cheesecake.