BEST Plain Base EVER
- 5.35 ounces graham crackers (10-1/3 crackers)
- 1/3 cup pecan pieces
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Cream cheese filling:
- 4 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries, washed and dried
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup kirsch liquor
Preheat the oven to 325°. Set aside a 10” cake pan.
For the crust:
Combine the graham crackers, pecan pieces and sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until it has a fine crumb consistency. Add the melted butter and pulse on/off until well blended. Grease the pan with nonstick cooking spray (I use PAM®.) Transfer the crust mixture to the pan and pat evenly onto the bottom and up ¾” of the side. Set aside.
For the filling:
Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl down as needed. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until smooth. Add the sour cream and vanilla.
Pour the filling into the pan and bake at 325° for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Wrap a 12” cardboard round with plastic wrap and set aside. Place the cheesecake pan in a baking or roasting pan that is large enough to fit the cheesecake pan in (this may also be done in the kitchen sink.) Add very warm water to the larger pan filling it halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Let sit for 20 seconds. Transfer the cheesecake pan to a dishtowel and dry off the water. Immediately place the wrapped 12” cardboard round on the top of the cheesecake pan. Invert the cheesecake and, holding the cardboard round and the cheesecake pan tightly, firmly rap the cheesecake (upside down) onto a countertop. Carefully lift the cheesecake pan off of the cheesecake. Place the serving plate onto the crust of the cheesecake and turn the cheesecake over, holding onto the cardboard round as you do this. Remove the cardboard round. Prepare the topping.
For the topping:
Place the cranberries, brown sugar and kirsch in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture holds together and the liquid has been cooked out, 13-15 minutes total cooking time. After 10-12 minutes, the cranberries are bubbly and bursting. If there are any stubborn cranberries that are not popping, help them out by mashing them against the side of the pan. Transfer the cooked topping to a bowl and place wax paper directly onto the cranberries. Cool completely.
Once the topping is cool, stir it and transfer the cranberries to the top of the cheesecake. Begin in the center of the cheesecake and then spread it out to the edges, leaving a small border. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cranberry Cheesecake may also be prepared in a springform pan. Once the cake cools, remove the side of the pan. Refrigerate until cold before topping.
Cranberry Cheesecake may be made in advance. If freezing, wrap the untopped cheesecake well. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and top anytime during the day you will be serving the Cranberry Cheesecake.
The topping may be made a day ahead. Cover well with plastic wrap. When ready to top the cheesecake, stir the topping and follow directions as written above.