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Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Tested Recipe

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Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Recipe

I love making seasonal desserts, so when I came across this Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake in Christmas with Southern Living 1997, I just knew it would be perfect for the Holiday season. A Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake combines two American favorites, New York Style Cheesecake and cranberry sauce. Cheesecakes are in a class of their own, they are creamy smooth, rich, and dense and men, in particular, love this dessert. I'm sure you have noticed how a fruit sauce makes the perfect accompaniment to a slice of cheesecake, so it only seems natural to swirl the sauce through the cheesecake, rather than just pouring it on top. Now the cranberry filling is similar to the cranberry sauce we all know and love, only it is much thicker, which means we can make lovely ruby red swirls with it that almost seem to float on top of the cheesecake batter. Of course, all cheesecakes need a crust, and in my mind nothing beats the grainy texture and sweet taste of a graham cracker crust. 

Although I have said this before, I think it bears repeating as we cannot talk about cheesecakes without mentioning its pitfalls. There are two questions that always come to mind, one is how do we prevent cracking and two, is how do we know when a cheesecake is fully baked? First, let's talk about cracks on the surface of a baked cheesecake. Cracks can be caused either by over beating the batter and/or by too much moisture being lost as the cheesecake bakes (over baking). So, always mix the ingredients at low speed as, unlike a butter cake, you do not want to incorporate a lot of air into the batter, you only want to beat the ingredients until they are nice and smooth. With regards to over baking, while you want the cheesecake to be firm, if you shake the pan gently, it should still wobble a little, and the center will still look a little wet. Although the center may not look fully baked, once it cools it will firm up and be the correct consistency. Cheesecakes are cakes that should not to be eaten straight away, they should be cooled and then be refrigerated for several hours, preferably overnight, so the flavors have time to blend and the texture to become firm. Cheesecakes store very well and can also be frozen. To freeze, place the cooled cheesecake on a baking pan and freeze, uncovered, until firm. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil and place in a freezer bag. Seal and return to freezer. It can be frozen for several months. Thaw the uncovered cheesecake in the refrigerator overnight.

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Cranberry Filling: In a medium sized saucepan, place cranberries, sugar, and water. Then, over medium-high heat, cook the ingredients until boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium low and gently boil the filling, stirring often to prevent the filling from burning, until it becomes thick and syrupy and reduced to about 2 cups (480 ml). This takes about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the zest, and let cool completely before using. (I like to make and refrigerate the cranberry filling for a day.)

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake: Grease, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 9 inch (23 cm) round springform pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.

Crust: In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) up the sides of the springform pan. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.

For Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer (can use a hand mixer) place the cream cheese, sugar, and flour. Beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes), scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cream and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour half the cheesecake filling into the pan. Take one-half cup of the cranberry filling and place spoonfuls over the cheesecake batter and then swirl gently with a knife. Top with the remaining cheesecake batter. Spoon another one-half cup of the cranberry filling over the cheesecake batter and swirl gently with a knife. (Note: You will have leftover cranberry filling which can be served with the baked cheesecake.) Place the cheesecake pan on a larger baking pan (to catch any drips) and place in the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) and continue to bake for another 60 to 70 minutes or until firm and only the center of the cheesecake looks a little wet and wobbly. Remove from oven and carefully run a knife or spatula around the inside edge of pan to loosen the cheesecake (helps prevent the surface from cracking as it cools).

Let cool before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating.  This cheesecake tastes best after being refrigerated at least eight hours or overnight.

Serves about 12-14 people.


Brennan, Rebecca; Fisher, Julie and Short, Adrienne E. Christmas with Southern Living 1997. Oxmoor House. Birmingham: 1997.

Rodgers, Rick. Thanksgiving 101. William Morrow, New York: 2007.

Crownover, Mary. Cheesecake Extraordinaire. Taylor Publishing Company. Dallas: 1990.

Cranberry Filling:

1 - 12 ounce (340 grams) bag of fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

2 cups (480 ml) water

zest of one lemon or orange

Graham Cracker Crust:

2 cups (200 grams) of graham wafer crumbs or finely crushed Digestive biscuits

2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 cup (114 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:

24 ounces (680 grams) (3 - 8 ounces packages) cream cheese, room temperature (use full fat, not reduced or fat free cream cheese)

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

1 tablespoon (12 grams) all purpose flour

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract





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