Bakery, Cakes & Cupcakes, Desserts

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake with Cranberry-Raspberry Compote

10 Comments 05 January 2011

Warning to all who enter: this is one dangerous dessert. I still can’t quite believe we made it. In my kitchen. It’s like my dream cheesecake. All tall, smooth, creamy goodness, and the sauce that accompanies it is sweet yet tart at the same time. This dessert will sink your battleship, just saying. It sure did me in over the Holidays. Why do things that taste like heaven have to be so, so bad for us? Make this one anyway and call it a treat. And fyi, the cranberry puree that’s swirled throughout the filling makes a seriously tasty cranberry sauce. You know, to keep in mind for this year’s Holiday season. It might be too early to think about Christmas decor (Unless you’re like me and your tree and decorations are still up, too.), but it’s never too early to think about the sauce. Right?

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Know how I pretty much always say the recipes we post here are easy? Well, this one isn’t. It wasn’t really hard, it was just more labor, more steps, more time. More everything. For one thing, it’s at least a two-day dessert in the making. For example, this cranberry puree, which you see above in it’s infancy, needs to be made and chilled ahead of time. This is the part that makes such an unbelievably yummy cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

You just simmer down all those great ingredients – orange zest, cinnamon, cranberries, fresh-squeezed orange juice and more – until you get this.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Then you chuck it all in your food processor until it looks like horror movie props.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

And then you smash it all through a fine mesh sieve to separate the desirables from the undesirables. You’re kicking out all the solids that didn’t want to mix in and play nice, producing a smooth, almost creamy puree of cranberries.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

One like this! Congratulations, you’ve just completed the first leg of this cheesecake odyssey. You’ll be amply rewarded, just wait.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Next, you’ll make a sinful butter cookie crust that, get this, needed MORE butter added to it. Oh yes. I swear. And it was good. Damn it was good.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Do you know how much cream cheese is in this thing? Four whole packages. Philadelphia, you are my king.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Once the cream cheese filling is ready, it’s time to layer it in by thirds, and on top of each third, you’ll dollop on several spoonfuls of the cranberry puree. This is where sis and I discovered something we should have done with each layer – swirling the knife through each layer of spooned-on puree. The directions only said to swirl the top layer, leaving the ones beneath to kind of just sit there, little clumps of cranberry goodness, sure, but it would’ve been better had they been swirled as well. Because once you put on that top layer of filling, you’re not going to be able to swirl the ones underneath. You’ll ruin your top swirly design. Read on to see what I mean.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

I should have stopped swirling the top design here, but we got to thinking about the rest of the puree dotted in beneath it. Those would just sit there and be these pockets of cranberry amongst the cheesecake. So I kept swirling, thinking to try to get to the puree we’d first dolloped on in the first and second layers. This kind of ruined my purty design on the top. In the end, though, no matter how it looked, it still tasted awesome.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

See? The design, I messed it up. I swirled too much with the knife. Oh well! You win some, you lose some. Taste-wise, this was still very much a win. And look, no cracks! This was the first cheesecake that either sis or I had made and the top didn’t crack. Cracking usually means you’ve over baked it, apparently.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Before we show you the grand finale, you can also has sauce! Sauce for the topping, that is. This is the cranberry-raspberry compote that went with the cheesecake. Isn’t it just so purty? This is another step that needs to be done ahead of time, by the way.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Know what else needs more time? The cheesecake itself. Most cheesecake recipes advise they be chilled before serving, and this one is definitely no exception. When you get it out of the oven it should jiggle slightly, and then be cooled 100% completely before covering and putting it in the fridge overnight. So that you can plunder and pillage the thing like we did above. Heck, I found it was even better after chilling in the fridge for two days.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

It’s that time you’ve been salivating for – time to slice your cheesecake and actually eat it! Oh nom nom nom. NOM! Guys, I’m not kidding you: Best cheesecake I’ve ever had. And I love cheesecake. It’s my favorite dessert of all time. The base cheesecake filling in this recipe alone makes the perfect, creamy plain cheesecake.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

We had to look at it from all angles. One, because I seem to have this block when it comes to photographing wedge-shaped food (I have a hard time finding interesting angles). Two, it got purtier and purtier as we photographed it, and hard to stop as a result.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

But finally we did stop, and we ate it. Oh man. So good I. Could. CRY.

If the cranberry puree seems like too much for you, just leave it out. Or don’t swirl in in, just serve it on the side if you don’t want to make the compote! Again, the filling part of the recipe makes the perfect plain cheesecake, so this is a good recipe to play around with and use what works for you. Then, my friends – feast!

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake with Cranberry-Raspberry Compote

from Bon Appétit Desserts

*Cranberry-Raspberry Compote recipe follows

For cranberry purée

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries or frozen, thawed
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

For crust

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 3/4 cups finely ground butter biscuit cookies or butter cookies
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For filling

  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Make cranberry purée:
Combine all ingredients except vanilla in heavy large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer to processor. Add vanilla. Puree until smooth. Strain into medium bowl. Cover with plastic. Refrigerate at least 6 hours.

Make crust:
Spray 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Wrap outside of pan with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. Blend cookies, sugar and cinnamon in processor. Add butter; blend until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of pan. Chill crust while preparing filling.

Make filling:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla.

Transfer 1/3 of filling to prepared crust. Dollop 1/3 of cranberry puree atop filling and swirl it through with a knife to distribute the puree into the filling. Repeat layering of filling and and puree 2 more times. Using knife again, swirl puree through filling, creating marbled design on the top layer. Try to make this swirling a more decorative effect. (If you don’t achieve it, don’t worry. Like I said above, it’ll still taste wonderful.)

Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until cheesecake puffs around edges, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off oven. Let cake stand in oven 1 hour, leaving oven door ajar.

Transfer cake to rack. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Cool completely. Remove foil from pan sides. Cover cake and chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Remove pan sides. Serve cake with Cranberry-Raspberry Compote.

Cranberry-Raspberry Compote

  • 1 12-ounce package frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries or frozen, thawed
  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients except vanilla in heavy medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until cranberries burst and mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)


Again, swirl the puree through the cream cheese filling each time you dollop it on a layer. This will make your cheesecake a true swirled one, and not one with merely lumps of cranberry puree throughout.

When it was time to loosen the cake from the pan with a knife, I did have some crust come out and it did damage the crust a little. We just decided not to take pictures of this atrocity. It still tasted wonderful. I guess the moral of that one is no matter what you might fudge up cosmetically, this cheesecake will what? Still taste great. You got it!

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- who has written 347 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and Day Job Do-er, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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Your Comments

10 Comments so far

  1. The idea of Cranberry-Raspberry Compote alone is enough to make me want to try and make this dessert but that last picture of the cheesecake slice with the sauce pooled around it is what sealed the deal for me!

  2. Jo says:

    Looks amazing!!! Which brand/type of butter cookies did you use?

  3. KMont says:

    Sylvie, I hope you get a chance to make this and enjoy it!

    Jo, believe it or not, I used Nabisco brand Lorna Doone shortbread cookies. Nobody seemed to have Danish butter cookies, which is what I’d looked for originally, so I figured a shortbread cookie would suffice. Worked out pretty well!

  4. Jo says:

    I was thinking Danish butter cookies would be nice! Lorna Doone sounds tasty as well – thank you!

  5. christine says:

    Oh wow. That looks magnificent.

    I’m bookmarking this to make next Christmas. 😀

    My favorite cookie to use in a cheesecake crust is graham crackers. I guess it’s sort of a back of the box kind of crust, but I don’t care. I think it’s fantastic with the richness of a cheesecake.

    It’s so nice to see you say that the best cheesecake you ever tasted in your life is one you made yourself. I love that. The best cheesecake I ever had in my life is also one I made myself.. a pumpkin cheesecake from EveryDayFood magazine several years ago. I used to make it for Thanksgiving every year, but skipped this year. Stupid me.

    • KMont says:

      I remember you saying something about your pumpkin cheesecake, Christine. I think I *need* to get that one from you! 😀 Maybe you could still make it, for a birthday or something similar? You just have to treat yourself once in a while. 😉

  6. christine says:

    Here’s the link to the pumpkin cheesecake recipe that I just love: Pumpkin Cheesecake. If you like pumpkin desserts, I say definitely give it a try.

    I could totally justify making this cranberry raspberry one for Valentine’s Day. Hmm…

  7. KMont says:

    Christine, it seems your link didn’t actually link. Drat lol!

    Great idea for Valentine’s Day! I support ya. 😀

  8. April says:

    Oh my jeepers, you have discovered the perfect dessert!! Leave out the cranberry purée?! Blasphemy!!! I will buy bags and bags of cranberries and freeze them this year, so I can make this whenever I want. I can’t wait to try!!


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    […] knew when we made Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake that I’d need to revisit the recipe again. Because cheesecake is all about need, isn’t […]

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