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Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Recipe & Video

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A red and white Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake is perfect for the Christmas season. It combines two American favorites, New York Style Cheesecake and cranberry sauce. But we're going to do something a little different with the cranberry sauce. Instead of serving it on the side, or just pouring it on top, we're going to make pretty swirls with it. 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 Sauce: Place the cranberries, sugar, and water in a medium sized saucepan. Then, over medium-high heat, cook the ingredients until boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium low and boil gently, stirring often to prevent the sauce from burning, until it becomes thick and syrupy and reduced to about 1 1/3 cups (320 ml). This takes about 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using. (The sauce can be made a few days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.)

Cheesecake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 9 inch (23 cm) round springform pan.

Crust: In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, ginger cookie crumbs, and melted butter. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for about 6-8 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.

Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer (can use a hand mixer) beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, salt, and flour and beat, on medium speed, until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Add the cream and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.

Pour half the cheesecake batter (about 540 grams) into your pan. Take 1/2 cup (120 ml or 130 grams) of the cranberry sauce and place dollops over the cheesecake batter and then swirl gently with a knife or skewer. Top with the remaining cheesecake batter. Take another 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the cranberry sauce and place dollops 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 completely before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating. This cheesecake tastes best after being refrigerated at least eight hours or preferably overnight. The cheesecake can be frozen. Defrost overnight in the fridge.

Serves about 12-14 people.

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Cranberry Sauce:

2 1/4 cups (8 ounces) (225 grams) fresh cranberries (can use frozen)

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

1 1/3 cups (320 grams) water

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 cup (100 grams) of graham cracker crumbs (can use finely crushed Digestive biscuits)

1/2 cup (50 grams) crushed ginger cookies

4 - 5 tablespoons (55-65 grams) butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:

3 - 8 ounce packages (680 grams) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt

1 tablespoon (12 grams) all purpose flour

4 large eggs, at room temperature (220 grams without shells)

1 tablespoon (15 grams) heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) pure vanilla extract

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