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Cran-Orange Cheesecake with Sugared Cranberries

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Servings: 12-16
Impress your guests during the holidays with this delicious and refreshing twist on the classic cheesecake! This scrumptious cheesecake will become one of your most requested Thanksgiving, Christmas or Chanukah desserts.

1 3/4 cups crushed vanilla wafers (approximately 46 wafers)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (24 ounces total)
8 ounces mascarpone cheese* (see note below)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest

Garnish: (optional)
Sugared Cranberries* (see instructions below)
Fresh Orange slices
Orange Peel Curls* (see instructions below)
Confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 300° F (150°C).

For Crust:
Combine crushed vanilla wafers, sugar, melted butter, and the 1 teaspoon grated orange zest; press firmly on bottom of a 10-inch (25 cm) springform pan. Wrap bottom and sides of pan with heavy aluminum foil (to prevent leakage of cheesecake batter while baking). Set aside.

For Filling and Baking:
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until fluffy on high speed of electric mixer. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add lemon juice; mix well. Stir in chopped cranberries and the 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest. Pour mixture over crust in prepared pan.

Place a large roasting pan (large enough to hold the springform pan) on center rack of preheated oven and place springform pan inside of roasting pan. With a kettle filled with very hot or boiling water, pour water into roasting pan halfway up the sides of springform pan. Bake cheesecake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until center is set.

Turn oven off, leave cheesecake (in water bath in roasting pan) in oven with oven door ajar for 1 hour. Remove cheesecake from oven; remove from water bath and let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edges of springform pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool completely on wire rack for 1 hour or longer, then transfer cheesecake to refrigerator and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.

To Serve:
Remove cheesecake from refrigerator; release sides of springform pan and place cheesecake on serving plate or cake stand. Garnish cheesecake if desired. Store any leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

For Garnish: (optional)
If desired, place cheesecake on a large serving plate or a pretty cake stand; placing fresh slices of orange and whole cranberries around the edges of plate to make an attractive "wreath" like border, and top the center of cheesecake with Sugared Cranberries* (see instructions below) and Orange Peel Curls* (see instructions below). If you like, dust top of cheesecake with confectioners' sugar.
Makes 12-16 servings.

*Sugared Cranberries*
Tis the season for fresh cranberries! These crimson berries are just in time to add bursts of flavor to your holiday recipes and vibrant color to your holiday table. Sugared cranberries make beautiful garnishes on desserts or scattered around the roasted turkey with grapes, figs, orange slices, small pears or other harvest fruits.

Making Sugared Cranberries
Start with fresh cranberries (as they thaw, frozen cranberries tend to dissolve the sugar coating). Beat together 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon thawed frozen egg substitute or egg white until combined but not foamy. Brush cranberries with egg mixture, then roll in granulated sugar or extra-fine sugar. Sugar the cranberries up to 2 hours ahead of time and keep at room temperature. Note: Though they may look tempting, do not eat the garnish if they are made with egg white; uncooked eggs sometimes carry salmonella bacteria.

*Making Orange Peel Curls*
Curly citrus peels add a twist of color to holiday dishes. Using a zester with a large hole, remove the colored part of an orange or grapefruit in long, thin strips. Wrap the strips tightly around a chopstick or pencil, and let them stand at room temperature about 30 minutes or until they hold the curled shape. Push the peel off the chopstick or pencil and cut into desired lengths.

Spoon Sugared Cranberries on center of cheesecake, and decorate with Orange Peel Curls right before you are ready to serve.

Mascarpone cheese is an Italian style cream cheese. It can be purchased at some large supermarkets; also at Italian food stores and delis, or at other specialty food stores. It may also be purchased online at: igourmet.com or at cheesesupply.com.

If you can't find Mascarpone cheese, you may use 4 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese instead, in this recipe.

Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2003

Source: DianasDesserts.com
Date: November 27, 2003

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