Now that the holidays are over with, I think we've officially gained 10 lbs. Between Christmas cookies, dinner parties, hot appetizer dips, and holiday chocolates -- not to mention an overdose of my mom's deliciously addictive home cooking -- we are ready to kick 2010 off with some healthy, skeeeny food.
But first, this glorious cheesecake :D
I actually stumbled across this in my search for a recipe that uses fresh cranberries. You see, my family likes to buy things in bulk (if you haven't already noticed) -- and my mom had two HUGE bags of cranberries that she couldn't use up by herself. So naturally, we ended up with one of those bags...wondering what on earth to do with it. Good thing we found this, otherwise we would have been drinking cranberry juice for years.
This festive and luscious cheesecake was made for my auntie's "toned down" new years party, which boasted 28 different food dishes. I say toned down because last year, we had 40-something dishes. Why do we insist on gorging ourselves with so much food? I have no idea. But it's always delicious, and has become a tradition we look forward to every year :)
Anyway, this stunning cheesecake is the perfect dessert for holiday festivities. Not only is the presentation impressive, but it's both delicious and easy to make. Chocoholics (like me) love the rich, chocolate wafer crust. And the cheesecake's light, creamy texture and subtle orange flavor provide the perfect contrast. The highlight, of course, is the bright and slightly tart cranberry compote, which pulls all the flavors together beautifully.
While this cheesecake did a great job of using up some of those cranberries in our fridge, we still have a whole 1/2-bag left. At least this bodes well for our urinary tracts, right? ;)
Cranberry-Orange Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2002
1 9-ounce box chocolate wafer cookies, broken
2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
Preheat oven to 325°F. Finely grind cookies and chocolate in processor. Add butter; blend until moist clumps form. Using plastic wrap as aid, press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 1/4 inches up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Cool completely.
Increase oven temperature to 350°F. Wrap 2 layers of heavy-duty foil around bottom and up sides of springform pan. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Beat in flour. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, just until blended. Beat in orange peel and vanilla.
Pour filling into crust. Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with enough hot water to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until filling is just set in center but still moves slightly, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove cake from water bath; transfer to rack and cool completely, about 4 hours. Cover and chill overnight.
Stir sugar and water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; add cornstarch mixture and bring to simmer. Add cranberries; cook until beginning to pop, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Stir in orange peel. Cool completely. Cover and chill overnight. (Cheesecake and cranberry mixture can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
Run knife around top edge of cheesecake to loosen. Release pan sides. Top cheesecake with cranberry mixture. Chill until set, about 1 hour.