Creamy cheesecake with a spiced crust and the perfect blend of bright citrus and sweet and tangy cranberries. A show-stopping dessert worthy of the holiday table!
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick, or 1/2 cup), melted
3 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2–3 tablespoons fresh orange zest (use a microplane zester!)
1/2 cup full fat sour cream
6 ounces fresh cranberries (that’s about 1 1/2 cups, or half of a standard size 12-oz bag from the produce department)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
pinch of cinnamon and cloves
- If you are making sugared cranberries or candied orange slices, feel free to make them 1-2 days ahead of time and simply store in a covered container in the fridge.
- Cranberry Layer: (Can also be made several days in advance. It will thicken in the fridge from the natural pectin. Simply add a small amount of hot water while stirring to thin back to sauce consistency.) To make cranberry layer, place berries, sugar, orange juice, water, and spices in an 8×8 pan. Stir together and then bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Let cool until warm and then place in blender or food processor and process until semi-smooth (or very smooth, if you prefer). Set aside or store in fridge.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a 9 or 10 inch springform pan on a double layer of heavy duty foil. Wrap the foil up around the sides of the pan and set aside.
- Combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and spices in a bowl and stir with a fork. Add melted butter and stir until it is all incorporated. Press into a 9 or 10 inch cheesecake springform pan. Press down to flatten crust on the bottom of pan, and about 1-inch up the sides. Set aside.
- Cheesecake: For best success, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.
- Beat cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and zest and beat to combine. Add sour cream and beat until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared crust and spread into an even layer.
- Dollop cranberry sauce over cheesecake and very gently spread out with a spoon into an even layer on top. Using a butter knife, swirl through the top of the cheesecake, swirling the cranberry and cheeecake layers together.
- Place foil-wrapped pan in a larger roasting pan and place in oven. Use a tea kettle or microwave-save liquid measuring container to pour hot (or boiling) water into the roasting pan, so it surrounds the cheesecake pan about half way up the sides of the pan. Bake for about 1 hour. Cheesecake should be firm, yet slightly jiggly (think Jell-O) when wiggled or gently shaken. When done, turn off oven heat, crack door, and let cheesecake sit for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate overnight before serving.
Spread whipped cream on top to cover about 1/4 inch on top and then pipe decoratively around edges. (You can certainly just spread it all on top if you prefer.) Decorate with sugared cranberries and candied oranges and graciously accept all praise when served. 😉
- To quickly get your eggs to room temperature, place in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes.
- This recipe requires one 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, which you can find in the produce department of the grocery store during fall and winter months. You will use half the bag for the sauce, and the other half for the sugared cranberries on top.
- Make your sugared oranges first, and then use the leftover syrup to make the sugared cranberries.