Gang: There are 362 shopping/baking/decorating days left! Pleeeennnty of time for you to bake up one of these for the next round of holidays, no?
I bet you can see right through me. I made this for Christmas. For me and my family to eat. Not to put it up here with plenty of time for you to, if you find it inspiring, do the same. Selfish, totally selfish and slackery, and I’m sorry. The good news is, this would also be wonderful for a New Year’s celebration. Or a winter birthday. Or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. OR I just need to step up and be a better blogger.
I probably could have been more proactive if Teen Mom 2 didn’t exist. True story: Last night I texted the following to my manpanion: “Teen Mom, Teen Mom, gotta get down with Teen Mom. Everybody’s looking forward to the Barbara. Fun fun fun fun.”
Oh, I was talking about cheesecake. I just adore cheesecake–not just because it’s delicious, but also because as far as celebration cakes go, it’s truly the easiest path to something impressive and crowd-pleasing. Layer cakes are brain surgery compared to cheesecake, which is unfortunately not common knowledge, it seems.
You slap some crumbs and butter in a pan, which is basically like making something out of Play-Doh. Then throw All of the Above Things in a large bowl and mix them together. Pour into crust. Bake. All those dreaded imperfections and cracks are easily disguised by topping (though it’s worth mentioning that this one baked up flawlessly).
The saying really should be, “easy as cheesecake.” Or, “piece of cheesecake.” Duh. Easy. Cheesy. And I will never stop loving Teen Mom and Kieffer’s socks and flip flops.
Cranberry Orange Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust
(recipe adapted from Epicurious)
1 9-ounce box chocolate wafer cookies, broken (I used chocolate graham crackers)
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature (I used low-fat)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 large eggs
Grated zest of one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
2 cups fresh cranberries
Grated zest of one orange
To make the crust, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Break cookies or graham crackers to fit into food processor and pulse until they’re broken down into crumbs. Add butter and chocolate, and pulse until moist clumps form. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of a springform pan. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Cool completely. (Note: the recipe assumes you’re using an 8-inch springform pan. I only had a 10-inch one on hand, so I had to add more crumbs and butter. You could do the same, or just put crust on the bottom of the pan–that should work too.)
Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees and make the filling. Using a mixer, mix cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in flour, followed by the eggs, one at a time, followed by orange zest and vanilla. Beat just until all is incorporated, scraping bottom and sides of the bowl. Pour filling into your crust. Bake until filling is just set in center but still moves slightly, about an hour and 10 minutes. (Start checking for doneness around 55 minutes–mine possibly took longer because of the pan size, as I mentioned above.) Transfer cake to rack to cool, then to the fridge to chill, for 4 hours to overnight. Cake can be made up to 2 days ahead.
To make the fruit topping, stir sugar and water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and add the corn starch/water mixture and bring to simmer. Add cranberries, cover and cook until the berries start to pop, for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in orange zest and cool completely. Cover and chill before spreading on the cake. This, too, can be made a day or two in advance. (Note, again: I had to use more cranberries and water to cover the entire 10-inch cake.)
To assemble the cake, run knife around the edge of cheesecake to loosen and release pan sides. Top cheesecake with fruit mixture and chill until set, about 1 hour. Decorate with orange… If you want, of course.