Cape Cod’s cranberry bogs provided the inspiration for this festive dessert, a vanilla cheesecake scented with orange peel and topped with sweetened fresh cranberries. You can make the cheesecake and the cranberry topping a day or two ahead, then simply assemble the cake just before you plan to serve it. Originally published November 10, 2006.–Barbara Fairchild
Other Crusts for Cheese Cake
We’d like to veer from this recipe to remind you that you’ve got quite a lot of leeway when it comes to creating this cheesecake’s crumb crust. But the sweetly tart cranberries, the vanilla-inflected cheesecake, and the citrusy note of orange all bode well for other crumb crusts, whether graham cracker, gingersnap, even granola. Mind you, we’re not complaining about this chocolate crumb crust. Not at all.
Finely grind the cookies and chocolate in a food processor. Add the butter and blend until moist clumps form. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. (To keep the moist crust mixture from sticking to your fingers, cover your fingers with plastic wrap before pressing the crumbs into the pan.)
Bake until the crust is set, about 8 minutes. Let cool completely.
Make the cheesecake filling
Increase the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C).
Wrap 2 layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil around the bottom and sides of the springform pan.
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until light. Beat in the flour until incorporated. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, just until blended. Beat in the orange zest and vanilla. Pour the filling into the crust.
Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the filling is just set in center but still jiggles slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely, about 4 hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
Make the cranberry topping
Warm the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium, add the cornstarch mixture, and bring to a simmer. Add the cranberries and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to pop, about 3 minutes. Stir in the orange zest. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan. Release the pan sides. Spoon the cranberry mixture over the cheesecake. Chill until set, about 1 hour. Slice and serve.