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Cranberry-Balsamic Streusel Cheesecake

December 24, 2006

For the streusel base:

2 tablespoons candied ginger
4 ounces graham crackers (about 8 full sheets of crackers)
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled

For the cheesecake:

2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice

For the sauce:

1/2 cup jellied cranberry sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

To make the base, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

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In food processor, combine candied ginger, graham crackers and oats. Process for about 1 minutes, or until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Transfer to a small bowl.

Drizzle butter over crumb mixture and use a fork to mix until well moistened. Transfer crumbs into prepared springform pan. Use flat side of fork to gently spread crumbs and press into even, lightly packed layer.

Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To bake the cheesecake, preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Use electric mixer on low to beat the cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed. With mixer going, add sugar in a steady stream and beat for another minute, or until well-mixed.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, vanilla and lemon juice. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream mixture. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until very smooth.

Pour batter over the base. Smooth the top. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 200 degrees and bake for another 1 1/2 hours. Watch the cake carefully during the final 15 minutes and remove from the oven if more than the edges brown.

Cool the cake on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife between the side of the pan and the cake, but leave the cake in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours.

To make the cranberry-balsamic sauce, in a small saucepan over medium heat whisk together the cranberry sauce, water and vinegar. Bring to a simmer, whisking often, and simmer until thick and slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

Transfer sauce to a small bowl or cup and refrigerate until cool.

To serve, remove side of springform pan. Arrange slices of cheesecake on serving plates and drizzle with sauce.

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