Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sweet Cranberries

The recipe contest required that entries use at least one cranberry product from the company sponsor and my wheels began to turn. No doubt I would enter a dessert recipe, and cranberry and chocolate would make a natural pairing, but plenty of other people had already used that combo. I needed something really different.

What about cranberry and white chocolate? Hmmm – okay. Now, should I make a cake, pie, cookies or cheesecake…? I decided to create a cheesecake with whole berry cranberry sauce in the filling and also as a pureed topping. I hoped to nail it within three tries and my neighbors agreed to be guinea pigs.

Since I’ve never liked side crusts on cheesecakes mine would only have a bottom crust – with nuts. I imagined a bright red, translucent glaze atop the white filling, and maybe some curls of white chocolate too.

Three tries and several weeks later, my neighbors and I had chosen the second version. Dense yet moist, the filling showcased a big dose of cranberry flavor and a whisper of melted white chocolate. Finally, white chocolate curls peeked out from between two layers of glaze, thinned with a bit of cranberry juice cocktail.

Somebody else won the contest but I gained a spectacular recipe that I'll forever enjoy sharing with friends and family.

Cranberry White Chocolate Cheesecake
At least 12 servings
1 cup finely crushed graham crackers
1/8 cup finely chopped walnuts
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/2 pounds low-fat cream cheese, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
5 large eggs
12 ounces Ocean Spray Whole Cranberry Sauce
4 ounces white chocolate, melted
¼ cup heavy cream

12 ounces Ocean Spray Whole Cranberry Sauce
6-8 teaspoons Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice
1 ounce shaved white chocolate

Crust: Combine crushed graham crackers, walnuts and cinnamon.

Stir in melted butter. Press crust onto bottom of springform pan to
just above lower lip inside pan. Refrigerate until filling is ready.

Filling: Stir cranberry sauce in a small bowl until it breaks apart and
becomes slightly liquid. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat
cream cheese until smooth and then beat in granulated and brown
sugar, a little at a time, until mixture is fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a
time, beating thoroughly after each egg. Beat in cranberry sauce
and white chocolate. Pour filling into pan and bake the cheesecake
in the middle of the oven at 325 degrees, for 1 1/2 hours (times may
vary with individual ovens). Allow cheesecake to cool on a wire rack
before refrigerating, covered, overnight.

Topping: Puree cranberry sauce to make a thick, smooth sauce,
and the spread half on top and sides of cheesecake. Top with
shaved white chocolate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Spread
remaining sauce over the entire cheesecake and serve.