Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

The day after I turned in my final papers, I jetted off to Philadelphia with my parents for my uncle’s memorial service. Coincidentally, Vivek, another Nashville food blogger, also happened to be on the same flight. The security line at the Nashville airport was so long that he almost missed the plane, and we barely had enough time to grab the necessary Starbucks before bundling into our seats.

The next day was the memorial service, and I had agreed to sing. Yet again, it’s a small world I live in, and the priest at my aunt’s church, where the service was held, is the mother-in-law of the son of the priest I have been working with at the Cathedral. The church was beautiful, and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s also a bit difficult to get to. When they chose the location in the 18th century, they probably weren’t considering where future highways and major thoroughfares might be. The service was very nice. I know I’m a little biased, but I think the Episcopal burial service is just stunning. Here’s my grandmother and me:


After the service, my parents and I went for a run on the trail near my aunt’s house. Never could I have imagined the day when I would go for a run with my parents and be the fastest one, but my mom is injured and doing low heart rate training and my dad is just getting back on the running wagon after his cycling season. I ran 6 miles in 59:30, which was definitely pushing it. Then we stopped by Wawa and on to Wegman’s, where my dad and I found these:


Giant bottles of Belgian beer! Too bad we couldn’t take them home. Joe would’ve loved a giant bottle of Chimay blue for Christmas. On our way back to Nashville, we saw Santa in the Southwest terminal and decided that it wouldn’t hurt to ask Santa for a few more presents. I also learned some fun photo tricks on Windows Live Photo Gallery.


I agreed to host Christmas dinner on Sunday night since we’ll be in Colorado on the 25th and because Joe gets a turkey from work every year. This is the first year we actually made the turkey for Christmas rather than waiting until Easter. So Saturday night, while Joe was on-call, I got to work making this Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake that was on the front of Cooking Light. I love the red and white combination because it’s so festive, but I’m not a big fan of peppermint or candy canes. And normally I would poo-poo a “light” cheesecake, but this one was delicious. It had a wonderfully light texture but was still creamy and rich. The cranberry swirl and the chocolate crust combination took it from plain to something special and was the perfect treat to dig into after we had finished opening all of our gifts. I found there was a little too much cranberry sauce to make the prettiest swirl, so don’t feel bad if you don’t use all of the topping.


Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake
source: Cooking Light December 2010


  • 4  ounces  chocolate graham crackers
  • 3  tablespoons  canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2  cups  fresh cranberries
  • 1/2  cup  sugar
  • 1/4  cup  Chambord (raspberry liqueur) (I subbed pomegranate liqueur that I had on hand)
  • 3  tablespoons  water
  • 1  cup  sugar
  • 2  (8-ounce) packages block-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2  cup  (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1  cup  plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 3  large eggs
  • 2  large egg whites


Preheat oven to 375° and wrap outside and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan tightly with a double layer of heavy-duty foil.

Place graham crackers in a food processor, and process until finely ground. Drizzle with oil; pulse until combined. Press mixture into bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 8 minutes; cool on a rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

Place cranberries, sugar, liqueur, and water in a saucepan; boil. Cook 8 minutes or until cranberries pop and mixture is syrupy. Set aside until cool. Place mixture in a food processor; process 1 minute or until smooth.

Combine 1 cup sugar and cheeses in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in yogurt, vanilla, and salt. Add whole eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Place egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form using clean, dry beaters. Fold beaten egg whites into cream cheese mixture. Pour filling over crust. Spoon cranberry mixture over filling; swirl together using the tip of a knife. Place springform pan in a roasting pan, and add hot water to pan to a depth of 2 inches. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until center of cheesecake barely moves when pan is touched.

Turn oven off. Cool cheesecake in closed oven 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven. Run a knife around outside edge. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours.