I’ve always loved Thanksgiving, and always hated pumpkin pie. I think most people don’t really like pumpkin pie all that much. If they did, why would they only eat it once a year?
This year I wanted to incorporate a traditional Thanksgiving food, but in a new way. I knew I wanted to do something with fresh-made cranberry sauce, and first thought of making it just like a cherry pie.
Wait, brainstorm … Cheesecake!
6 graham crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter (melted)
2½ packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
½ cup sugar
½ cup sour cream
1½ tablespoons flour
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup sugar
1 stick butter (cold, in small pieces)
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup roasted almonds, chopped
1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen whole cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
I usually do the step-by-step photos, but this was just going to be an experiment. It came out too good not to share in time for Thanksgiving.
If you’ve ever had cheesecake with strawberries or cherries on it, this is a similar idea except that the cranberries are prepared according to my cranberry sauce recipe.
Since I wanted the cranberry sauce to gel up on top rather than spreading it on afterwards, it was going to still be hot when I put it on. That meant I was going to need a layer in-between the cheese and the sauce. The crumb topping is adapted from a cranberry crumble recipe that I might make for turkey day.
For the crust, follow my directions for making a cookie crust. Crush the crackers, melt the butter, mix everything together and press into the bottom of a spring-form pan.
One update I made this time is I used the Ninja to crush the crackers. Way quicker and easier, but not at all necessary.
Make the crumb topping before you do the cheese. Combine the flour, ginger, salt and sugar in a food processor and mix well. Add the butter and pulse just until it forms into large lumps.
Fold in the oats and almonds.
Set aside in the refrigerator until the cheese is ready.
Pre-heat the oven to 325° F. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, flour and vanilla and mix well. Use an electric mixer … unless you’re multi-tasking and want to get in a workout at the same time.
Once it’s mixed, add the eggs one at a time mixing after each until just blended. Pour into the pan with the crumb crust. It’s very thick, so you’re going to have to spread it out. Pour it in the middle and spread to the outside. If you start from the outside you’ll get streaks of cheese going up the sides of the pan and it won’t separate as cleanly after it’s cooked.
Top with the crumb topping. Cover it well from edge-to-edge, but don’t feel compelled to use all of it if it looks like it’s getting too thick. You don’t want the cranberry to separate and fall off when you cut it. (Foreshadowing? We’ll see, I’m writing this part before the cake has cooled.)
Put the pan in the oven for at least 30 minutes. It’s done when it’s nearly set up in the middle. Check with a knife, it should come out just a little wet. (It will keep baking for another 10-15 minutes after you take it out.)
As soon as you put the cake in the oven, start on the cranberries. Follow the directions for old-fashioned cranberry sauce. Set it aside, still in the pot you cook it in, to cool a bit until the cake is ready. If you time it just right the sauce will be done simmering just when the cake comes out of the oven.
Loosen the spring-form and run a sharp knife around the edge to separate it, but leave the form on.
Set the cake and the cranberry sauce both aside — not in the fridge — to cool for about 15 minutes, then re-tighten the spring-form and pour the cranberry sauce over the cake. Pour everything right in the middle and spread it out from there. Any juice that runs past the edge of the crumb topping will run down the side of the cake. Be prepared to move the pan onto a baking sheet if it starts leaking. (Mine has taken some abuse … it doesn’t fit so tight any more.)
Put the cake pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips, and put the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight.
When it’s time to serve, loosen the spring-form, run a hot knife around the edge to make sure it’s not stuck, and lift it off.
And that’s it.
Share this with your friends, they’ll thank you for it.
PS: No, the cranberry didn’t separate from the cheesecake. I probably could have used all the crumb topping and it would have been okay.
Want more like this? For more recipes like this, that you can hold right in your hands, and write on, take notes, tear pages out if you want (Gosh, you're tough on books, aren't you?) you might be interested in How To Cook Like Your Grandmother, 2nd edition, Illustrated. Or to learn your way around the kitchen, check out Starting From Scratch: The Owner's Manual for Your Kitchen.