Thick, rich, and super creamy cheesecake adorned with a tangy swirl of fresh cranberries makes dessert a perfectly decadent experience.
Welcome to Day 5 of Christmas Week. This annual event was started in 2012, and is hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic. This year we have over 35 bloggers sharing festive sweet recipes for the event. We also all chipped in for a huge ($800 total!) Amazon Gift Card Giveaway, so be sure to keep scrolling to enter!
I tend to take a brief hiatus from pies for the holiday season, and instead shift into cheesecake mode. I’ve never once brought a cheesecake to a holiday gathering and left with anything but a few crumbs of crust on the plate. Everybody seems to love cheesecake! When I signed on for Christmas Week this year, I knew immediately that one of my recipes would definitely be a cheesecake. Most of the time, I make an easy New York-ish style cheesecake in a 13 x 9 pan because it takes almost no time to throw together and it bakes up as easily as a regular cake. When I’m short on time, a speedy no bake cheesecake is definitely the way to go.
When I’m going for dramatic presentation that is bound to impress in both appearance and taste, I always bake some variation of the über thick and creamy Postively Perfect Cheesecake. I get loads of requests for this cheesecake. People track me down and offer cash money for me to make one for them in their own springform pans so that they can totally pass it off as their own creation at their family Christmas gatherings, because well…it’s positively perfect. The recipe itself is pretty basic insofar as cheesecakes go, but it’s the baking method that ensures that it comes out ultra smooth, creamy, and perfect every. single. time.
Since I tend to hoard fresh cranberries in my freezer when they’re in season, I thought it would be fun to add a cranberry marbling on top of the cheesecake for a little holiday flair. I’m not talking Joanna’s 37 pieces of flair kind of flair. No. I’m talking a more subtle, je ne sais quoi kind of flair. Sweet. Elegant. Can’t-put-your-finger-on-it-but-can’t-stop-thinking-about-it kind of flair. Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake has just enough cranberry swirled on top to lend a touch of tang to each gloriously decadent slice. And flair. Plenty of cranberry flair.
- For the Crust:
- 5 oz. Oreo cookies (14 cookies)
- 5 Tbs. really cold unsalted butter, melted
- For the Filling:
- 5 packages (8 oz. each) full-fat cream cheese
- 1 ½ C. granulated sugar
- 2 Tbs. flour
- 1 Tbs. cornstarch
- 5 eggs
- 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
- ½ C. full-fat sour cream
- For the Cranberry Swirl:
- 1 C. fresh cranberries
- ¼ C. water
- ¼ C. granulated sugar
- Additional Equipment Required:
- A large, 3-inch deep roasting pan, kitchen towel, parchment paper, shortening. A stand mixer and blender or food processor is also needed. A quart (or more) of boiling water will be necessary for the water bath.
- To Prepare the Springform Pan:
- For this recipe, use a 10-inch springform pan with 2 ½-inch high sides. Please use a pan with these dimensions, as it is the best for the job.
- Remove the bottom of the springform pan and trace it’s diameter with a pencil onto a sheet of parchment paper. Use a measuring tape to measure distance around the (closed) exterior band of the pan, as well as measuring the height of the band. Use those measurements to mark off a long strip of parchment. Cut both the bottom circle and the side strip(s) out of the parchment. Reassemble the springform pan. Set both the bottom circle and sides of parchment in the pan to ensure a proper fit without wrinkly overlaps. Trim edges for a better fit, if necessary.
- Lightly grease the bottom and interior sides with shortening. (Baking Spray can be substituted in a pinch, but shortening is really best.)
- Line the greased pan with the parchment and lightly grease the top of the paper with a little more shortening.
- Wrap the bottom and exterior walls of the prepared pan with a double thickness of aluminum foil; set the prepared pan aside.
- For the Crust:
- Set the oven rack to the second to the lowest position in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Crush the Oreo cookies into crumbs. Stir the melted butter into the cookie crumbs until moistened.
- Dump the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the prepared springform pan.
- Press the crumbs into a compact layer on the bottom of the pan.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and place it in the refrigerator to cool.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F.
- To Prepare the Cranberry Swirl:
- Combine the fresh cranberries, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once at a rolling boil, stir continuously until berries pop and mixture becomes quite thick.
- Puree the cranberry sauce in a blender or food processor. Press the puree through a fine mesh strainer with the back of a spoon to remove the seeds and skins. Allow the strained puree to cool. Discard the seeds and skins.
- For the Filling:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar, cream cheese, flour, and cornstarch on medium speed until very smooth and creamy, scraping down the bowl as necessary; turn off the mixer.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla extract, and sour cream until well blended.
- Turn the mixer on low speed, and slowly pour the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture and continue to mix until all is incorporated and smooth; scrape down the bowl as necessary. (I find that Speed 2 on my stand mixer works best. I end up scraping down the bowl three times during the process.)
- Reserve ½ cup of the cheesecake filling.
- Pour the remaining filling into the cooled crust.
- Fold the cooled cranberry puree into the reserved half cup of cheesecake filling until an even color is achieved.
- Spoon the cranberry filling in small dollops over the cheesecake. Briefly and lightly run a knife through the cranberry filling to create a marbled effect.
- To Bake the Cheesecake:
- Fold a clean kitchen towel to line the bottom of a large roasting pan.
- Set the filled springform pan onto the towel in the center of the roasting pan.
- Place the roasting pan onto the second to the lowest rack in the now 250 degree F oven.
- Pour boiling water into the roasting pan around the springform pan, until it comes 1 inch up the side of the pan, being cautious not to splash any water onto the filling.
- Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Do not open the door of the oven, turn the light on, or otherwise peek at the cheesecake during this time--doing so will cause the oven temperature to fluctuate, and will affect the final results.
- After 75 minutes have passed, turn the oven off, and open the door to peek at the cheesecake and allow some of the heat to escape. The outer inch and a half of the cheesecake should look mostly set, with the interior being runny in appearance.
- Close the oven door, and continue baking the cheesecake for an additional 65 minutes. The heat remaining in the walls of the oven and in the water surrounding the cheesecake will finish baking the filling. Relax! It’ll be fine!
- Again, don’t open the door and peek during this time.
- At the end of the final hour of baking, carefully remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan, open the foil around the pan to let any water escape, and set the pan on a wire rack to cool for one hour. The center of the cake may still look a little jiggly, but so long as it doesn’t look like soup, this is fine. The custard will continue to set as it cools.
- After an hour of cooling on the wire rack, finish removal of the foil surrounding the springform pan. Run a thin knife between the parchment and wall of the pan to ensure that the cake isn’t sticking to the sides. The cheesecake will pull away from the wall of the springform pan as it cools. Set the cheesecake in the pan into the refrigerator to cool overnight. Do not wrap the pan in any way before refrigerating, as steam will continue to escape during this time. Wrapping the cheesecake would trap the evaporating moisture and cause a layer of water to form on the top of the cake.
- For Serving:
- Verify that the cheesecake isn’t sticking to the wall of the springform pan before unbuckling the ring and removing it.
- To prevent the cake from sticking when cutting, slice it with a sharp knife that has been run under hot water and then dried. If the cake begins to stick or clump on the knife, repeat the warming under water process before continuing.
- Recipe Notes: All baking times/ingredient amounts are based on the use of a 10-inch round by 2 ½-inch tall springform pan because it is simply the best size for the job. Using a pan of a different size will affect the results and require many adjustments to both the ingredients and baking times. Cheesecake is best made 1 day ahead, and chilled for at least 8 hours prior to serving.
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Recipes from Day 5 of Christmas Week! Please visit all our talented participants:
S’mores Christmas Crack Bars from Cravings of a Lunatic
Chocolate Orange Oatmeal Cookies from Desserts Required
Spiced Hibiscus Cranberry Mojitos from Pineapple and Coconut
Double Chocolate Peppermint Granola from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Peppermint Truffles from The Bitter Side of Sweet
Boozy Bourbon Balls from Amee’s Savory Dish
Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake from Comfortably Domestic
Magic Cookie Bar Truffles from Farm Fresh Feasts
No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars from My Catholic Kitchen
Cardamom Coffee Bars with Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting from Daily Appetite
Christmas Swirl Bundt Cake from Savory Experiments
Pumpkin Po’e from Aloha Flavor
Cherry Brandy Old Fashioned from Food Babbles
Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies from Mind Over Batter
Chocolate Covered Snowmen S’more Sandwiches from Big Bear’s Wife
Chocolate Covered Coconut Bon Bons from Everyday Southwest
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies from CopyKat Recipes
Crock Pot Chocolate Cherry Nut Cups from Flour On My Face