Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sugared Cranberry White Chocolate Cheesecake (Gluten Free)

Believe it or not, I’m already in the holiday spirit.  Basically, if your local Macy’s Department Store were a person, that person would be me.

It may be a little too early to start thinking of Christmas, but I think that anything decorated with these sugared cranberries would be delightful not only for Thanksgiving, but Christmas too.  They’re such a beautiful rich red tone, kissed with a light frost of sugar.  And they’re SO easy to make.  

In addition to the sugared cranberry garnish used in this recipe, I used a beautiful and tasty fresh cranberry curd to top the cheesecake.  And I have a funny story about this cranberry curd recipe.  

Well, it’s funny depending on who you are in the story… The curd recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s book “How to be a Domestic Goddess,” which I do not own, but still was able to utilize the recipe due to the wonders of the internet.  My husband used to watch Nigella Lawson’s show when he was a younger, single guy because she’s easy on the eyes.  He made the mistake of telling me an old story about his brother trying to take the television from him at their parent’s house to watch sports, accusing him of only watching her show because he thought she was “hot.”  Anyway, it was a mistake of him to tell me this because I can get crazy jealous at times.  I completely admit it. 

Case in point- directly proceeding his re-telling of this story, I set about to point out every Nigella Lawson cookbook we saw at bookstore (accompanied by a glare that said “what do you think about this?  You better not want to look at it!), told him about every Nigella Lawson interview I heard on NPR, and glared at him when he nervously informed me that Nigella Lawson was a guest star on Top Chef Masters a few seasons ago (Mr. Pixie Crust works for the company that composes the music for the Top Chef series).  I know, I know…I realize I’m nuts.  And he truly is the sweetest, most patient man.

Anyway, in true “me” fashion, I sheepishly told him that I was using her cranberry curd recipe for this cheesecake and he had a good time teasing me.  He also asked if I was going to post a picture of her, so…

And now onto the recipe...this particular dessert is a white chocolate cheesecake topped with cranberry curd and encased in a gingersnap crust. 

For the White Chocolate Cheesecake:

Gingersnap Crust:
2 cups finely ground store bought gingersnap cookies (Trader Joe’s has a really good gluten free option, which I used)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

Pre-heat oven to 330 degrees.  Lightly butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan.  After gingersnaps have been finely ground in food processor, process 2 cups of the crumbs with butter until incorporated and mixture is similar to wet sand.  Press crumbs at the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan.  Set aside and begin making filling.

White Chocolate Cheesecake Filling (Adapted from Food Network)
4 (8 oz) blocks of cream cheese, softened
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
8 ounces good-quality white chocolate (I used Ghiradelli baking chips and it turned out great)
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tbsp sorghum flour*
½ tbsp potato starch*

**For non-gluten free readers, the original recipe calls for 2 tbsp AP flour, instead of sorghum flour/potato starch

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer at medium speed until fluffy, then beat in sugar. Add whole eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well at low speed and scraping down bowl after each addition.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth, and remove from heat.  Beat in flour and vanilla until just combined, then add melted chocolate in a slow stream, beating until filling is well combined.  Bake in middle of oven until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still wobbly when pan is gently shaken, 45 to 55 minutes.  Run a thin knife around edge of cake to loosen, then cool completely in pan on a rack. (Cake will continue to set as it cools.) Serve at room temperature or chilled.

For the Cranberry Curd Heavily adapted from Nigella Lawson’s “How to be a Domestic Goddess"
·  1/2 pound fresh cranberries
·  1/2 cup, plus 1 tbsp water
·  3 1/2  tablespoons unsalted butter
·  3/4 cup, plus 1 tbsp sugar
·  3 large eggs

Combine water and cranberries in a small sauce pan.  Cover and place over low heat until cranberries are softened and “popped.”  Pour cranberry mixture in blender and puree.  Once fully pureed, pour through a fine mesh sieve back into sauce pan (you will need to rinse it if there are chunks of cranberries leftover.”  Add eggs, butter, and sugar to cranberry puree.  Turn heat on low and stir continuously, watching carefully so that the eggs do not cook and “scramble.”  Continue to heat and stir until mixture has thickened enough to coat back of spoon.  Remove from heat and allow to cool on stovetop.

For the sugared cranberries (From Cooking Light Magazine):
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4  cup superfine sugar (you can make your own by processing regular sugar for a minute in a food processor)

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added.) Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish (I used a glass pie plate). Add the cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.

Note: The steeping liquid clings to the berries and helps the sugar adhere.  Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.

For the Whipped Cream Topping:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Beat whipping cream using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Once cream begins to thicken, slowly add sugar.  Continue beating until whipping cream is fully thickened.  Place whipping cream in pastry bag fitted with large star tip and decorate as desire.

To Assemble:
Tip:  Make the cheesecake and cranberry curd the night before the cheesecake will be served.  Allow the cranberries to steep overnight as well.

Allow cheesecake to cool and fully set for at least one hour after baking.  Pour cranberry curd onto cheesecake, moving pan or spreading with offset spatula to create an even layer.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

The next morning, make the whipped cream topping and coat the cranberries in sugar. 

Decorate the cheesecake by piping with whipped topping and finishing with groups of sugared cranberries placed on top to garnish.


  1. Absolutely gorgeous (As Usual!!!) !!!!!

    Also, I have chosen you for the 'Liebster Award'! Check my Saturday post to grab your award! ;-}

  2. Thank you so much!
    I really appreciate the award too!!! :)