I make this Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake every Thanksgiving. I think anything containing cranberry is a nice segue between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it's absolutely perfect right now!
This Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake has a graham cracker crust filled with a creamy vanilla bean cheesecake swirled with homemade cranberry sauce! Topped with freshly whipped cream and sugared cranberries, it's a showstopper!
I love the kick of vanilla flavor (and the beautiful vanilla bean flecks!) from the vanilla bean paste in this cheesecake! If you'd prefer, you can substitute with an equal measure of vanilla extract.
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You can use a standard 9" springform pan, but I LOVE my "push pan." This pan's bottom has a silicone seal that's waterproof. This recipe requires a water bath, and you can just set the pan right down in the water with no leaking! You also don't have to worry about anything dripping out of your pan and burning in your oven with other recipes.
Baking the cheesecake in a water bath helps to ensure gentle, even baking and helps to avoid cracks in the top of your cheesecake. Check out the recipe notes for more detail on baking the cheesecake in a water bath. After baking, the cheesecake cools in the oven for an hour, on the counter until it's room temperature, and then in the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours. It takes a long time, but IT'S WORTH IT!
Also, don't be afraid to make this one in advance. The cranberry sauce can be made days ahead and refrigerated until you're ready to use it. The cheesecake itself can easily spend a day or two in the refrigerator before you're planning to serve it. Just prepare the whipped cream and sugared cranberries the day of, assemble, and EAT!
I hope that you have a wonderful (and safe!!) holiday!
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Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit (link here).
Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 whole graham crackers)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 7 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Vanilla Bean Cheesecake:
- 1½ cups heavy (whipping) cream, cold
- 3 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon water
- ¼ cup cranberries
For Cranberry Sauce:
- Combine all ingredients except vanilla bean paste (see note) in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the mixture starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Pour the mixture into a food processor and process until as smooth as possible. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, discarding the skins and seeds. Add the vanilla bean paste (see note) and stir to combine.
- Cover the cranberry sauce and chill thoroughly, at least 3 hours. You can make the cranberry sauce several days ahead of time, just store it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9" springform pan (see note) and set aside.
- Combine graham crackers and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely ground.
- Add melted butter and pulse to incorporate, making sure the mixture is completely coated in butter. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1-2 inches up the sides of the prepared pan. Set aside.
- Combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Combine at low speed, then increase to medium until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add eggs, one at a time, allowing the first egg to incorporate before adding the second. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add sour cream, heavy cream, and vanilla bean paste (see note). Mix to incorporate.
- Pour half the filling into the prepared crust and top with dollops of half the cranberry sauce. Pour in the remaining cheesecake filling, and dollop the top with the remaining cranberry sauce. With a thin knife, swirl the cranberry sauce throughout the cheesecake. Make sure that your knife is deep enough in the cheesecake to swirl throughout, but not so deep as to disturb the crust.
- Wrap the bottom and up the sides of the pan in at least two layers of heavy-duty foil to keep the water bath out of the cheesecake (see note on springform pan).
- Place the cheesecake in a water bath (see notes) in the preheated oven. Bake until cheesecake is just set, but still wobbly in the center, about 1 hour.
- Turn off the oven. With the oven door slightly ajar, leave the cheesecake to slowly cool in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove the pan from the oven and run a thin knife around the edge of the cheesecake to be sure it is released from the pan. Allow the cheesecake to cool on a rack to room temperature. Once at room temperature, chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).
For Whipped Cream:
- Place cold heavy cream and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Start the mixer on low speed, and gradually increase the speed to high. Whip until the cream thickens and forms peaks.
- Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Warm over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Boil 2 minutes. Remove syrup from the heat and cool 10 minutes.
- Pour cranberries in the syrup and stir to coat. Place cranberries on a rack so excess syrup can drip off. Allow to set for 10 minutes.
- Roll cranberries in sugar to coat. You'll likely have more than you need for the top of the cheesecake, but they're great for snacking, too. 🙂
- After the cheesecake has chilled, top with the whipped cream and sugared cranberries.Enjoy!