Cranberry Cheesecake

Who ever came up with the idea of serving cranberry sauce with turkey and chicken? As a result, lots of people think of that as the only use for cranberries, a fine American fruit with many other possibilities. I’ve made cheesecakes with cranberries for years, and they’re delicious. Making it gets you along the way to making the fresh cranberry sauce for the turkey, and uses up some of it (we always have leftover cranberry sauce, no matter how many people we serve. Make the cheesecake a little sweeter than usual to offset the tartness of the cranberries.

The most time-consuming part of making a cheesecake is cooling it. This must be done slowly and gently, or you’ll have cracks in the top.

  • Cranberry sauce:
  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice

  • Crust:
  • 2 packages (out of the standard three in the standard box)
  • cinnamon graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted

  • 4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 pint whipping cream
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla
  • Zest (grated peel) of one orange

1. Dump the cranberries onto the counter and select 24 nice-looking ones.

2. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a simmer in a small enamel saucepan. Dissolve the sugar into it. Add the 24 selected cranberries and cook for three minutes, until a little soft but not bursting open. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3. Add the rest of the cranberries to the pan and cook for ten to twelve minutes, until most of the berries have popped. Stir every minute or so.

4. Remove half a cup of the cranberry sauce. (Save the rest for serving with the turkey.) Combine the half-cup of cranberry sauce with the orange juice in a food processor. Process until smooth, and strain through a medium sieve. (Or run through a food mill, if you have one.) Set aside.

5. On to the cheesecake itself. Put the cream cheese and the sugar into the bowl of a mixer and blend on medium-slow speed until completely blended and fluffy–about 10 minutes.

6. While that’s going on, make the crust. Grind the graham crackers into small crumbs in a food processor. Add the sugar and the butter and process until the butter has soaked all the crumbs.

7. Line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Dump the crust mixture in and press a wedge of crumbs into the bottom corner all the way around. Then make a bottom crust, and finally press the remaining crumbs up the sides of the pan. It is not necessary for the crust to come all the way to the top of the pan. Set aside.

8. Add the sour cream to the mixer bowl. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl after this and each other ingredient addition throughout the recipe.

9. Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing them to blend in completely before adding the next one. (Break each egg into a cup first to make sure it’s okay before you add it.)

10. Remove the beater and scrape it and the bottom of the bowl well. Remount the beater. Add the cream and the vanilla. Mix for another five minutes or so.

11. Pour the filling into the crust. Pour the strained cranberry-and-orange sauce around the top of the filling. With a dinner knife, swirl the sauce into the filling.

12. Place the springform pan in a shallow pan (i.e., a pizza pan), and place it in the center of the oven at 275 degrees (no convection). Pour warm water into the bottom pan. Bake for 90 minutes, until you see the cheesecake has just a hint of browning on top.

13. Turn the oven off, but leave the cheesecake inside. After an hour, open the door a crack and let the cheesecake cool in the oven another half-hour. Remove the cheesecake and let it finish cooling on a counter. After another hour, remove the sides of the springform pan and put the cheesecake into the refrigerator. Chill at least three hours before serving.

Makes one ten-inch cheesecake; serves twelve to sixteen.

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