Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fresh Cranberries.... part two!

Back with part two of the cranberry extravaganza for Wednesday Treat Day. I've been wanting to make a cheesecake for Jeff's co-workers for awhile and finally settled on a recipe for a Cranberry-Orange Cheesecake with Oreo Crust.

We start off with a twist to the crust - chopped bittersweet chocolate is added along with the Oreos when you process them into crumbs for an extra punch of chocolate. Melted butter holds the two together and the crumbly mixture is pressed into a springform pan. Once the crust has a chance to bake and cool, the creamy filling is made with just a few ingredients. For the best results, make sure each ingredient is close to room temperature so you don't get any lumps. Cream cheese is sweetened with sugar and mixed until smooth with a just a few tablespoons of flour being added to help hold the cheesecake together. Eggs are added, one at a time, and are only mixed until combined - do this on low speed so you don't add air to the batter. Fresh grated orange zest and a touch of vanilla are added to brighten the flavor. Before pouring into the crust, wrap the springform pan with some heavy duty foil to prevent any water from penetrating the crust as this will be baked in a water bath. This helps the cheesecake to bake evenly and ususally prevents the dreaded cracks that can sometimes happen. To keep the cheesecake moist and creamy, remove it when the edges are set, but about a 3" circle in the center is still jiggly when you touch the pan. Since the cake will want to shrink as it cools, run a thin knife around the top edge of the cheesecake and the pan - this also helps reduce the chance of cracking so you will achieve a nice smooth surface on top.

The cranberry part of the recipe comes in with a ruby red sweet, syrupy topping with a hint of orange for the cheesecake. These are both best done a day ahead so they have plenty of time to rest and chill in the refrigerator. While I can't comment on the taste, the feedback we got today was fantastic! Jeff did get a small sliver and said it was silky smooth, just orange-y enough and a perfect pair to the decadent crisp crust.

We had a meat and potatoes type of dinner tonight - we will start off with the Ponzu-Glazed Flank Steak first and talk about the funky and fun recipe I made with fingerling potatoes a little later. This recipe could not be simpler - a Ponzu glaze is made by boiling fresh lemon and lime juice with salty soy sauce, golden honey and grated ginger root. Half of this tart and tangy mixture is brushed onto the flank steak and under the broiler it goes for a couple minutes. It is then flipped over to be brushed with the rest of the glaze and placed back under the broiler to finish cooking. For medium-rare, it only took about 10 minutes to cook - the steak is then left to rest for 5 minutes so the temperature can continue to rise a few degrees and the juices can be reabsorbed. Sliced against the grain to ensure the steak is tender, the gorgeous pink color shines against caramelized outer crust. Served with the succulent juices left behind, the slightly sweet sauce has a gentle bite from the fresh ginger to off-set the tangy liquid the fruits added. Jeff has already claimed the leftovers to have as a killer sandwich for lunch tomorrow... though we may have to veto that idea and give him some other dinner we have leftover in the freezer!


  1. Joe,
    That cheesecake is a work of art! Lucky co-workers once again!

  2. That some great contrast on the cheesecake, nicely done.

  3. Cheesecakes are one of my favorite things to bake, you can do just about any flavor you want with those babies. You're looks beautiful!

  4. Val - Thanks!

    Brilynn - It was not easy to get decent pictures, but we tried out best.

    Barbara - I don't bake them NEAR enough!