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Sugared Cranberry Cheesecake

This is absolutely stunning!  It's not only beautiful to look at, it's really delicious.  It's layered with a cranberry filling, and a white chocolate whipped cream that makes this cheesecake just melt in your mouth.  It would be wonderful served during the holidays, and the sugared cranberries make this really sparkle.  You're family, friends, or guests will be truly overjoyed when you bring this out for dessert.  It's not hard to make, but looks like a professional baker put this one together.  This one will definitely be a favorite. (see notes)

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED:

FOR THE CRUST

2 cups of graham cracker crumbs

2 Tablespoons of sugar

6 Tablespoons of butter - melted

FOR THE CRANBERRY FILLING

1 can of Ocean Spray Whole Berry cranberries

3 ounce package of cherry Jello

1 cup of fresh cranberries

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of water

2 heaping Tablespoons of corn starch

Water

FOR THE CHEESECAKE:

5 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese - softened 

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon of Vanilla

3 eggs

3/4 cup of heavy cream

2 Tablespoons of corn starch

FOR THE WHITE CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM

1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese - softened

4 squares of White Chocolate Almond Bark

2 cups of heavy cream

FOR THE SUGARED CRANBERRIES

16 ounces of fresh cranberries

2 cups of water

2 cups of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

TO SUGAR CRANBERRIES:

1 jar of Decorating sugars - see link

1 cup of white sugar

Parchment paper

COOKS TOOLS NEEDED:

STAND MIXER

9 inch Spring-form pan

Parchment paper

Pastry bag

Piping tip - see link

HERE'S WHAT YOU DO:

In a large bowl, place the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter, and mix well to blend.  Place Parchment paper in the bottom of the Spring-form pan, and place the graham cracker crumbs on top of the parchment paper, and press evenly into the bottom of the pan.  Wrap the bottom of the pan and up the sides about 2 - 3 inches in aluminum foil.  Place the Spring-form pan in the freezer.

In a heavy sauce pan, place the Ocean Spray canned Whole Berry cranberries, Jello, sugar and water, stir well, and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat, and add the fresh cranberries, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the corn starch, by mixing the corn starch with water (about 1/4 cup) until the corn starch is smooth.  Pour the corn starch into the cranberry mixture, and stir.  Turn the heat up, and bring the cranberry filling to a boil; corn starch will make the cranberry mixture to look cloudy, but once the mixture starts to boil and thicken, it will become clear, and not cloudy.  Once the filling boils, and thickens, take it off the stove, and let it cool in the pan.

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, mix the 5 - 8 ounce packages of softened cream cheese with the whisk attachment until it's smooth and creamy.  Add about 1/3 of the heavy cream to the cream cheese, and blend.  Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and blend again until the cream cheese is smooth.  Add the sugar, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and blend until creamy. Add the corn starch, and the rest of the heavy cream, and mix until smooth and creamy.  Add the eggs, and blend well.  Place the mixing bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  

Remove the Spring-form pan from the freezer, and pour half of the Cranberry filling over the graham cracker crumbs, and place the pan back in the freezer.  After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the freezer, and remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator, and pour the cheesecake over cranberry filling in the Spring-form pan.  Place the Spring-form pan in the middle of the Oven,  at 350 degrees for 70 minutes.  Place a small shallow dish (4" X 6") half full of water, on the oven rack under the cheesecake; not on the same rack as the cheesecake, but on the rack underneath. After the cheesecake has baked for the 70 minutes, don't open the oven door!  Turn the oven off, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, remove the cheesecake, and place it on a wire rack to cool.  After an hour, cover the cheesecake with parchment paper, and then a layer of foil, and place it in the refrigerator overnight.  It must be refrigerated overnight in order for the filling to set.  Place the pan with the remainder of the cranberry filling in it, covered, in the refrigerator.

While the cheesecake is baking, make the cranberries for the sugared cranberries; In a sauce pan, place the 2 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar, and vanilla, and heat until the sugar is completely melted.  Pour the fresh cranberries (washed) into the pan, and stir to mix.  Turn off the heat, and set the pan aside to cool.   When the cranberries are cool, place the pan in the refrigerator to soak the cranberries in the sugar and vanilla overnight.  Do Not cook the cranberries - they need to be whole to sugar them. 

Let the cheesecake, cranberry filling, and cranberries to sugar, cool overnight in the refrigerator.

THE NEXT DAY:

Remove the cranberry filling from the refrigerator to counter, and allow to warm up a bit.

First, sugar the cranberries; carefully place the cranberries in a colander, in the sink - use a slotted spoon to remove them from the saucepan into the colander. Don't pour the liquid off the berries, this can be saved and used at a later time, for a sauce, or for drinks.  When the cranberries have drained a bit, place the colander on a towel on your counter top - do not drain the cranberries on a towel, or paper towels - they have to be moist/wet in order for the sugar to stick to them.  Place a large piece of Parchment paper on the counter, and place the decorating sugar in a shallow dish.  With a teaspoon, remove a couple of the cranberries from the colander into the sugar, and move them around to coat.  Once coated, place the sugared cranberries on the parchment paper to dry.  Try not to touch them with your fingers until the sugars have dried on the berries.  The decorating sugar will coat about half of the berries; use regular sugar to coat the other half, and place on the parchment paper for the sugar to set on the cranberries.  Leave the cranberries on the Parchment paper for about 1 - 2 hours. 

Make the White chocolate whipped cream:  In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, place the softened cream cheese, and mix until smooth.  Place the 4 squares of white chocolate almond bark in the Microwave on 10 second intervals until the chocolate melts, and stir with a spoon until smooth and creamy.  Pour the melted chocolate in the mixer with the cream cheese, and mix to blend until smooth. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl, and blend again.  Pour the 2 cups of heavy cream into the mixing bowl, and mix on low until blended, turn up the mixer to high, and whip the cream, for 1 - 2 minutes, or until stiff peaks form, and the white chocolate whipped cream will hold it's shape.  Place the mixing bowl in the refrigerator.

Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator, and pour the rest of the cranberry filling on top of the cheesecake and evenly smooth out the filling to the edges.  Place the cheesecake back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove the cheesecake, and the white chocolate whipped cream from the refrigerator.  Smooth about half of the whipped cream on top of the cheesecake, and remove the foil, and Spring-form from the outside of the cheesecake.  Place the cheesecake on a cake stand, or cake plate, or the serving piece of choice.  Place the cheesecake and the white chocolate whipped cream back in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.  After the 20 minutes, remove the white chocolate whipped cream, and place in a pastry bag with the tip inserted in the end (see link for tip) Pipe the whipped cream around the outside edges of the cheesecake (see photo) and then place sugared cranberries on top of the cheesecake, and pipe a huge dollop in the center of the cranberries on the cheesecake (see photo).  Keep the cheesecake in the refrigerator until time to serve.  Slice in 2 inch pieces, serve, and Enjoy!

NOTES:  This cheesecake is made in steps; part of this you can do one evening, then refrigerate, and finish the cheesecake the next day, as it HAS to be refrigerated overnight to set the cheesecake.  You can make this ahead, as long as you have a deep container to store this in the refrigerator.  You are seriously going to love this when you're finished, because the end result is an elegant dessert, and it makes a stunning presentation.  I've given you step by step instructions on exactly how to put this together.  It isn't hard, and it's just gorgeous.  Just follow the instructions, and if you get stumped, look at the photo's and read the directions over.  I promise you, it's worth every minute to make this.  ALSO:  don't throw away the liquid off of the soaked cranberries; it can be used for other sauces, or for holiday drinks.  The liquid turns the cranberry color, so you have a rich cranberry colored liquid you can use for something else.  WHITE CHOCOLATE ALMOND BARK:  It has nothing to do with almonds, but it's a great chocolate to melt or bake with.  It's found on the baking isle, usually where the chocolate chips, or the BAKERS chocolate is.  THE TIP FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM:  Follow the link to find the tip used to make the gorgeous dollops on top of the cheesecake.  I got mine at Hobby Lobby.  When you place the tip in your pastry bag, put a little bit of the whipped cream in the bag, and practice piping with the tip on parchment paper, so you can place the whipped cream back in the bowl, and continue to chill it.  That way, you've saved the practice dollops, and you get the feel of the tip before you pipe it on your cheesecake.  Enjoy this dessert!



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