I don’t know – I had the image of this cheesecake pop into my mind when I was supposed to be living in the moment during a downward dog yesterday but I think it was worth it, even if my mindfulness paid the price. You all. YOU ALL. It’s sour, it’s sweet, it’s rich, it’s just…like me! (Except for that third adjective.)
This Cranberry-Orange Cheesecake is a showstopper for a holiday dessert table: Not only pretty with its brilliant red color on top and swirled inside, but just the perfect meet-cute of sweet and sour with seasonal ingredients. I won’t pretend that this is a low-calorie dessert but I will say you will impress everyone, vegans and otherwise, and, you know what? You deserve a treat once in a while too.
This is a make-the-day-before dessert because the cheesecake has to refrigerate overnight. If you’ve never baked a cheesecake the traditional way as outlined in this recipe, please don’t be afraid. It’s what works for the best outcome for a cheesecake that is baked evenly and without cracks. Just follow my directions and you should be golden!
Crust 2 cups vegan graham cracker crumbs (for me, this was an eight-ounce box) or cookies of preference (gingersnap could be fun) ⅓ cup melted vegan butter 2 tablespoons unbleached, granulated sugar
Batter 3 8-ounce cartons plain vegan cream cheese (or 24-ounces homemade), room temperature (I used Kite Hill) ⅔ cup vegan sour cream (I used Kite Hill) 1 cup unbleached, granulated sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract ¼ teaspoons pure almond extract ¾ cup JUST egg, shaken Pinch of salt
Swirl and topping 2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed ⅔ cup unbleached, granulated sugar ⅓ cup orange juice 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Candied orange peels (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. (You read that right, cheesecake likes to bake at a low temperature to avoid overbaking and toughening the batter.) Oil a springform pan and cover the bottom and half-way up the sides with a couple of sheets of heavy aluminum foil. Press the foil to secure it all around the pan.
In a medium bowl, mix the crust ingredients together with a spoon until everything is coated. Press into the bottom and a little up the sides of your prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes and remove from the oven.
In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer cream the cream cheese, then add sugar and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the batter ingredients, mixing until combined and smooth. Pour this in the springform pan.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberry ingredients, cooking and stirring occasionally until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes or so. Place this in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. It will be thick.
Take ¼ cup of the cranberry blend, plop in smaller portions on the cheesecake and swirl through with a knife or chopstick. Reserve the rest for the top.
Place your foil wrapped springform pan in a larger pan that is filled with about 1-inch of hot water.
Place it all in the oven and bake for 65 minutes or until the center is mostly set but the very middle jiggles a little and the top looks dull. Carefully remove the springform pan from the larger pan with water and remove the foil. Cool for ten minutes, then use a sharp knife to loosen from the edges of the pan but don’t release it. Allow the cheesecake to cool for an hour, then pour the rest of the cranberry sauce over the top. It will be thick, so I recommend reheating with a little more orange juice or water to soften. Spread over the top of the cheesecake evenly.
Refrigerate overnight, remove the rim and slice.
Optional: Add candied orange peels to the top before serving. I halved this recipe.