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Easy Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe

Easy Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe

As the holiday season unfolds, bringing with it a flurry of snowy days and cozy evenings, our hearts and kitchens warm up to the time-honored tradition of holiday baking. In this season of joy and giving, what better way to spread cheer than through the delightful art of creating sweet treats? Today, I’m thrilled to share with you a recipe that’s not only close to my heart but also embodies the essence of holiday celebrations: the Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake.

This exquisite dessert is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures, perfect for gracing your table during festive gatherings like Christmas and Thanksgiving. Imagine the burst of tartness from fresh cranberries, beautifully complementing the luscious, creamy cheesecake filling. Each bite is like a melody of flavors that sings of holiday cheer.

The cranberry, with its vibrant red hue, is a jewel of the winter season, and when paired with the velvety richness of white chocolate, it creates a dessert that’s not just a treat for the palate but also a feast for the eyes. This Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake is more than just a dessert; it’s a celebration of the festive spirit, a tribute to the joyous occasions when families gather, share stories, and create memories around the dining table.

So, let’s don our aprons, preheat our ovens, and embark on a culinary journey to craft a dessert that will be the centerpiece of your holiday feasts and a delightful end to your festive meals.

The Art of Cheesecake Making

Crafting the perfect cheesecake is an art that combines patience, precision, and a touch of culinary passion. The journey to a creamy, dreamy cheesecake begins with understanding the importance of the ingredients and their preparation. Key to this process is the use of softened cream cheese, sour cream, and heavy whipping cream — the first of which should be at room temperature. This simple step is crucial; it ensures that these ingredients blend smoothly, avoiding lumps and creating a uniform, velvety texture in your cheesecake filling.

When it comes to combining these ingredients, the tools you choose can greatly influence the outcome. A food processor or an electric mixer is ideal for this task. These appliances are designed to blend the cream cheese mixture efficiently, integrating air and creating a filling that’s both light and rich. For the best results, start at a low speed and gradually increase to medium, allowing the ingredients to fully incorporate without over-beating, which can introduce too many air bubbles and affect the final texture.

Another pivotal aspect of cheesecake making is baking it at the right oven temperature. The ideal temperature for baking a cheesecake is typically around 325 degrees Fahrenheit. This gentle heat allows the cheesecake to cook slowly and evenly, preventing the top from cracking and ensuring that the center sets perfectly without becoming overcooked. Remember, a perfectly baked cheesecake will still wobble slightly in the middle when gently shaken; it will continue to cook and set as it cools.

This process of creating a creamy cheesecake filling and baking it to perfection is not just about following steps; it’s about engaging with the ingredients and understanding their interactions. It’s about watching as simple components transform into a decadent dessert that’s both rich and comforting. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or trying your hand at this classic dessert for the first time, the art of cheesecake making is a delightful journey that rewards you with not just a dessert, but a masterpiece of flavor and texture.

The Magic of Cranberries

In the heart of our Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake lies the enchanting allure of cranberries, those small but mighty berries that burst with a tartness capable of transforming any dish. In this recipe, the fresh cranberries are not just an ingredient; they are the stars that shine brightly against the rich backdrop of the creamy cheesecake. Their vibrant acidity cuts through the sweetness of the cheesecake, creating a symphony of flavors that dance harmoniously on the palate.

The journey of the cranberries in this recipe begins with a simple yet delightful transformation into a luscious cranberry jam. This homemade cranberry sauce adds not just flavor but also a beautiful textural contrast to the cheesecake. It’s an excellent example of how a single ingredient can play multiple roles – as a filling, a topping, and a flavor enhancer.

But the versatility of cranberries doesn’t end there. For those who find themselves with leftover cranberry sauce after a festive feast, this cheesecake offers a brilliant way to repurpose it. Whether it’s a sauce made from scratch or one that’s store-bought, the tartness of the cranberry sauce can bring a refreshing twist to the dessert. It can be swirled into the batter before baking or spooned over the top for a vibrant finish.

Cranberries are also incredibly adaptable in various holiday recipes. They can be transformed into compotes, added to savory dishes, or even used as a garnish. Their tart flavor complements sweet and savory elements alike, making them a valuable ingredient in your holiday cooking arsenal.

As you work with cranberries, you’ll discover that they’re not just about taste; they’re about bringing a touch of magic to your holiday table. Their bright red color evokes the joy and festivity of the season, making them an integral part of holiday culinary traditions. So, as you fold the cranberries into this cheesecake, remember that you’re not just adding an ingredient; you’re weaving in a piece of holiday enchantment.

Crafting the Perfect Crust

The foundation of any great cheesecake is its crust, a component as crucial as the filling itself. For our Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake, we begin with the classic: a buttery graham cracker crust. This crust is not just a base; it’s a layer of flavor and texture that complements the creamy cheesecake and the tart cranberry topping.

Achieving the perfect graham cracker crust starts with the right consistency of crumbs. The goal is to create fine crumbs, which provide a stable and even base for your cheesecake. A food processor is an excellent tool for this task. It uniformly grinds the graham crackers into fine crumbs, ensuring your crust will hold together well and bake evenly. If you don’t have a food processor, placing the crackers in a sealed bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin is a great alternative.

The magic in the crust comes alive with the addition of melted butter and brown sugar. The melted butter acts as a binding agent, holding the crumbs together, while the brown sugar adds a touch of sweetness and a hint of caramel flavor. When mixed, these ingredients transform the dry crumbs into a moldable mixture. Pressing this mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan creates a crust that is both sturdy and delightfully crunchy.

For those who love to experiment, there are delightful variations to explore. A gingersnap crust, with its warm, spicy notes, can add a festive twist perfect for the holiday season. Alternatively, a shortbread crust offers a buttery, slightly crumbly texture that pairs beautifully with the tanginess of the cranberry and the richness of the cheesecake filling.

No matter which crust you choose, the key is to bake it until it’s just golden, setting the stage for a cheesecake that not only tastes divine but also holds its shape and texture. This perfect crust becomes the canvas on which the flavors of your cheesecake artfully come together, making each slice a harmonious blend of crunch, creaminess, and tartness.

Baking Techniques and Tips

Mastering the art of baking a cheesecake requires understanding a few key techniques, chief among them being the water bath method, or bain-marie. This technique involves placing your cheesecake pan inside a larger pan filled with hot water, creating a moist environment in the oven. This gentle steam bath is crucial for a few reasons: it regulates the temperature around the cheesecake, ensuring even cooking, and prevents the top from cracking by keeping the oven humidity high.

To prepare your cheesecake for a water bath, start by wrapping the outside of your springform pan with aluminum foil. This step is especially important if your pan isn’t brand new, as it helps prevent water from seeping into the crust. Be sure to cover the bottom and sides of the pan thoroughly.

Next, after pouring your cheesecake batter into the prepared crust, place the springform pan into a larger baking pan. Carefully pour hot water into the larger pan, ensuring it comes about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. This setup, once placed in the oven, provides the gentle heat needed for the cheesecake to bake to perfection.

The baking time for a cheesecake can vary, but generally, it should be in the oven for about 70 to 75 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important not to open the oven door frequently, as the temperature fluctuations can affect the cheesecake’s texture. To check for doneness, gently shake the pan; if the cheesecake is slightly wobbly in the center but set at the edges, it’s ready.

One of the most crucial steps in cheesecake baking is the cooling process. Once the baking time is up, turn off the oven and crack open the door, letting the cheesecake cool down gradually. This slow cooling helps prevent the top from cracking and ensures a smooth, even texture. After about an hour in the cooling oven, remove the cheesecake and let it sit on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature. Only then should you move it to the refrigerator to chill completely.

By following these baking techniques and tips, you’ll be able to create a cheesecake that’s not only delicious but also aesthetically pleasing, with a smooth top and creamy texture that’s sure to impress.

Decorative Finishes and Flavors

A cheesecake is not just a dessert; it’s a canvas for culinary creativity, especially when it comes to decorative finishes and flavors. The final touches you add to your Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake can elevate it from simply delicious to visually stunning and tantalizingly flavorful.

One classic way to adorn your cheesecake is with sugared cranberries. These sparkling gems are not only visually striking but also add a delightful crunch and burst of tart flavor. To create them, simply roll fresh or frozen cranberries in a syrup made from equal parts sugar and water, then dust them with granulated sugar. Let them dry on a wire rack for a beautiful, frosty effect.

Candied cranberries offer another exquisite garnishing option. Simmer cranberries in a sugar syrup until they burst, then let them cool. These glossy, sweet-tart berries can be artfully arranged on top of the cheesecake for a festive and elegant look.

For those who enjoy a more integrated cranberry experience, a cranberry swirl is an excellent choice. Gently fold some of the cranberry jam into the cheesecake batter before baking, creating marbled streaks of cranberry throughout the cheesecake. This not only adds a pop of color but also infuses every bite with the tangy flavor of cranberries.

Enhancing the cranberry filling with citrus notes can add another layer of complexity to your cheesecake. The addition of orange zest or a splash of lemon juice to the cranberry mixture can brighten the overall flavor profile. The citrus accents cut through the sweetness and complement the tartness of the cranberries, creating a balance that is both refreshing and indulgent.

Remember, the beauty of a cheesecake lies in its versatility. Feel free to experiment with these ideas, mixing and matching to find the perfect combination that suits your taste and the occasion. Whether it’s a simple garnish of sugared cranberries or an elaborate cranberry swirl, these decorative finishes and flavors are what make your cheesecake not just a dessert, but a masterpiece of the holiday season.

Ingredients:

Fresh Cranberry Jam

  • 8 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 C white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C water + 2 Tbsp (separated)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Crust

  • 2 C graham cracker crumbs (1 sleeve)
  • 1/ C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cheesecake Filling

  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 C white granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

White Chocolate Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz baking white chocolate, melted
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream

Instructions:

In a medium pot, combine cranberries, water, sugar, and vanilla extract. Cook down for about 8-10 mins before adding the water and cornstarch slurry to thicken. Stir constantly on medium heat until thickened, remove from heat and let rest.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with baking spray (for non-stick pans, skip the greasing).

Combine the melted butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and graham cracker crumbs. Press into the bottom of the springform pan.

To make the cheesecake layer, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth. Add in the vanilla extract and sour cream. Mix and scrape down the bowl before adding the eggs. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat on low. Add in the cornstarch and then the heavy cream. Spoon the cheesecake batter over the crust, do not pour it.

Place the cheesecake in the 11*13 pan. Pull out the rack in the oven and place the pan there. Pour enough water into the pan to come up halfway to the cheesecake pan.

Bake for 75 minutes, then turn off the oven and crack the door for 10 mins, careful not to let the door slam closed. Remove from oven and let rest for 20 mins before adding to fridge. Allow cake to chill until cold 2-4 hours.

For the frosting.

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla. Add in heavy cream to loosen it up to piping consistency. Beat for 4-5 mins until fluffy. Add a layer of the frosting to the top of the chilled cheesecake.

Pipe a border around the cake and fill the center with cranberry jam. Chill until ready to serve.

Notes

If this is not a brand new springform pan, lightly greasing it will be necessary.

You can wrap the pan in aluminum foil if you are unsure if water can seep into the inside.

After removing from the oven and letting it cool, you can run a HOT butterknife around the sides to loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the springform pan if its sticking.

A Star at Every Holiday Table

This dessert is more than just a sweet ending to a meal; it’s a festive centerpiece, a symbol of holiday cheer and culinary artistry. Whether it graces your table at Christmas, adds elegance to your Thanksgiving spread, or brightens any other holiday gathering, this cheesecake is sure to captivate and delight your guests.

The combination of tart cranberries and velvety cheesecake, all nestled on a buttery graham cracker crust, creates a symphony of flavors and textures that is both luxurious and comforting. It’s a testament to the joy of baking and the magic of the holiday season, capturing the spirit of celebration in every creamy, tangy bite.

I encourage you, dear readers, to don your aprons, preheat your ovens, and embark on the delightful adventure of creating this cheesecake. Embrace the process, enjoy the aromas that will fill your kitchen, and anticipate the smiles and compliments that will surely come your way when you present this masterpiece to your loved ones.

And when you do, I would love to hear about your experiences. Share your stories, your variations, and your successes in the comments below. Don’t forget to leave a star rating, as your feedback not only inspires me but also helps others who are embarking on their own cheesecake-making adventures.

This Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake isn’t just a recipe; it’s a celebration of flavors, a joyous tradition, and now, a part of your holiday memories. Happy baking, and may your holidays be filled with sweetness and delight!

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake

Yield: 1 9-in cheesecake
Prep Time: 8 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 13 hours 10 minutes

Delight in holiday baking with our Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake recipe. Perfect for Christmas, it blends tart cranberries with creamy cheesecake for a festive dessert.

Ingredients

Fresh Cranberry Jam

  • 8 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 C white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C water + 2 Tbsp (separated)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Crust

  • 2 C graham cracker crumbs (1 sleeve)
  • 1/ C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cheesecake Filling

  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 C white granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

White Chocolate Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz baking white chocolate, melted
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream

Instructions

    Cranberry Jam Preparation:

  1. Combine cranberries, water, sugar, and vanilla extract in a medium pot.
  2. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add water and cornstarch slurry.
  4. Stir on medium heat until thickened, then remove from heat and let rest.

Preheating and Pan Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with baking spray (skip if using a non-stick pan).

Crust Preparation:

  1. Mix melted butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and graham cracker crumbs.
  2. Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.

Cheesecake Layer:

  1. Beat cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla extract and sour cream; mix well.
  3. Scrape down the bowl.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat on low.
  6. Mix in cornstarch, then heavy cream.
  7. Spoon batter over crust.

Baking:

  1. Place the cheesecake in an 11x13 pan.
  2. Pull out the oven rack and set the pan on it.
  3. Pour water into the pan to halfway up the cheesecake pan.
  4. Bake for 75 minutes, then turn off the oven and slightly open the door for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven, let rest for 20 minutes, then refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Frosting and Finishing:

  1. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
  2. Add heavy cream to reach piping consistency, then beat until fluffy.
  3. Spread a layer of frosting on the chilled cheesecake.
  4. Pipe a border and fill the center with cranberry jam.
  5. Chill until ready to serve.

Notes

  1. Grease the springform pan if it's not brand new.
  2. Wrap the pan in aluminum foil to prevent water seepage.
  3. Run a hot knife around the sides to loosen the cheesecake after cooling.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 951Total Fat: 54gSaturated Fat: 31gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 187mgSodium: 417mgCarbohydrates: 110gFiber: 2gSugar: 91gProtein: 10g

This nutrition information is automatically calculated and may not be entirely accurate. Please do your own research if you are overly concerned about specific macros.

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