Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cranberry Cheesecake

Welcome once again to Cranberry Week! I had a lot of fun coming up with a cranberry recipe for this week's challenge.

Cranberries are absolutely delicious and so good for you. That's why I enjoy having a Cosmo when I'm celebrating. A martini that's good for you! How perfect is that? I almost shared a Cosmo recipe here, but really -- you can find them all over the Internet. I wanted to come up with something special.

I started hunting down cranberry recipes when we here on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen first learned the secret ingredient. Nothing caught my fancy, but as I was searching (and talking aloud), my daughter overheard me. "How about a cranberry cheesecake?"

Well, how about it?

With my mom's trusty (and easy), guaranteed-to-get-raves cheesecake recipe in hand I set out to cranberry it up. And I think I succeeded. Next time (and there *will* be a next time because we really enjoyed this, despite the "oops" moments I'll share below), I'll go a little heavier on the cranberries, and add them first, before pouring the cream cheese mixture into the graham cracker crust.

First, The Crust:
15 graham cracker sheets crushed into crumbs (or buy the crumbs already smashed)
(you know how there are 4 perforated crackers per sheet? Fifteen of those sheets) My mom always used cinnamon grahams but I thought for the cranberry version, I'd go plain. This was a good choice
1 cup of melted butter
2 T sugar
Mix all ingredients in a Ziploc bag until the crumbs are fully moistened and the mixture sticks together. Press mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 13 pan.

The Main Cheesecake
2 - 8oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 t vanilla

Beat well.

Pour into graham cracker crust in 9 x 13 pan. Now, you may have noted (observantly) that the photo here is *not* of a 9 x 13 pan. This is a small springform pan. This is my first "oops" but it was done on purpose. Because I was afraid the cranberry version might not turn out, I used only half of it here. I used the other half for another experiment ... grin....

1/2 cup of fresh (cooked) cranberries or 1/2 can of whole cranberry sauce, dropping by spoonfuls. When you've added it all, take a knife and twist through the sauce around so it makes a swirl effect.
Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until center is baked.

Second oops.... This round pan required a longer baking time. I think I added about another 10 minutes.

But we're still doing okay...

The Topping
1 pt sour cream
2 T sugar
1/2 t vanilla
Mix well by hand.

When the cheesecake is done baking, let it cool for about 10 - 15 minutes on your stovetop. At this point, add the topping, and return the cheesecake to the 375 degree oven for about 5 - 7 minutes, until the edges of the topping start to bubble.

My next oops... I didn't spread the topping to the edge, but again, this was on purpose. I was afraid that it wouldn't pull away properly from the springform pan. If you do this the right way (with a 9 x 13) go all the way to the edges with the topping.

My final oops was to cut myself a slice before the cake had completely cooled. Notice how it's just a little bit soft...

Oh well, too bad! I couldn't wait.

This is a pretty excellent recipe if I do say so myself. "Oops" and all!

I'm having a blast with these "secret ingredient" weeks. I hope you are, too!


The third White House Chef Mystery, Eggsecutive Orders is coming January 5th! Please visit my website or personal blog: Julie Hyzy's Blog to learn more about it!


  1. Cheesecake! My biggest weakness. I'm going to have to fix this one. Yum!

    I'm really looking forward to your next book, Julie! Can't wait to read it.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Great recipe. Love cheesecake. With this recipe, now I can say cheesecake is a health food. No guilty in eating it now. Thanks. Congratulations on the new book coming out. I know it'll be great (just like the others).

  3. I wouldn't have been able to wait to cut it either! The cranberries make it look so festive (and yummy!).

  4. Elizabeth - I'd promised myself just one bite to see how it turned out. I finished the whole piece and almost went back for seconds. Knowing I had to save some for the family is the only thing that saved me.

    Mason - Thanks for the kind words! I'm really eggcited about the new book ;-) No guilt in this cheesecake. No guilt at all...

    Janel - It does look festive, doesn't it? Because the entire thing was devoured that night, I think I'll make this again for Christmas. My mother-in-law is going to think it's cool. Always good to impress the mother-in-law LOL

  5. I can see this on many a holiday table... wonderful sounding recipe

  6. 'Tis the season for cheesecake! This looks wonderful. I placed the order for our winner of Junior's Cheesecake (who is very excited about winning!) and just looking at all those cheesecakes had me drooling. Your cheesecake with cranberries is the perfect mix, Julie. I love sour cream topping on cheesecake -- always adds that little extra umph.

    ~ Krista

  7. Thanks "Year"! You have a fabulous blog and I loved your suggestions for this blog. Thanks so much! You know I'll be popping in, vicariously enjoying your parties from now on!

    Krista - I served a cheesecake at a recent MWA event. This was a store-bought version, but a really excellent one - and I could barely get the box opened before people were nudging me away to grab a piece. Cheesecake rules ;-)

  8. Julie-

    This looks fabulous! Festive and yummy. And I laughed at the "oopses"! I am the Queen of Oops -- truly!

  9. This sounds so good... I've never made cheesecake; I'm a little intimidated. But I'd love to try this one!

  10. Thanks, Jenn. I don't mind oopses. I've had some happy surprises over the years because of them.

    Donna - Thanks! This one is really easy. And as Krista said, the sour cream topping really adds oomph.


  11. I'm with Mason. Cheesecake as health food sounds good to me! A fine idea to combine those tart cranberries with that sweet, smooth creaminess of the cheesecake. Okay, now my mouth is watering...!

    Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  12. Thanks, Kris!

    Cleo - oooh, your tart/sweet/creamy description makes me wish I had another one in the fridge right now ;-)

    Hmm... I do have the makings here...