Monday, 22 December 2014

Baked Cranberry & Cointreau Cheesecake

I love cheesecakes and I know that they are very popular with many people so it is perhaps surprising that I rarely make them. This is one cheesecake that I think is absolutely delicious, and although rich, it is perfect to serve at this time of year with its festive but fresh flavours. This is something a little different to the normal fruit-laden puddings that are traditionally served at this time of year yet it is still Christmassy in character.

There are two main types of cheesecake; one which is uncooked and where the cheese is often set with gelatine and the cooked variety which are baked in the oven. Both are normally served chilled, cut into wedges. Although I like both, they are quite different from each other. I think the set, uncooked type are great for serving in the summer as they are a little lighter, but the baked kind, although heavier and creamier can be served all year around.
 
Due to the amount of cream cheese and the addition of eggs, this is quite a rich dessert, but in my opinion, Christmas is the one time when you can really allow yourself a little indulgence and spoil yourself a bit.
 
The cheesecake keeps extremely well covered in the fridge and will easily keep for two or three if it is not gobbled up immediately.
 
Orange is a perfect partner for cranberries, so I decided to extend this theme a little and include some Cointreau, which is an orange-flavoured liqueur. The addition of the alcohol really intensifies the orange flavour without being overpowering. If you prefer you can omit it and use some freshly squeezed orange juice instead.
 
I hope you try making this cheesecake because it is incredibly delicious and relatively simple to make. If you really want to go all out, you could serve it with some lightly whipped cream on the side.
 

Ingredients:

Base:
200g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
100g butter, melted
Filling:
675g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
250g sweetened condensed milk
Juice of half a lemon
25ml Cointreau
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
125g fresh cranberries roughly chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
To decorate:
Some fresh cranberries, dipped in egg white and sprinkled with caster sugar
A few strips of orange peel
 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/Fan Oven 140C/Gas Mark 2.  Grease a 20cm springform cake tin with butter and set aside.
2. Place the crushed digestive biscuits in a mixing bowl and add the melted butter, Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Press the butter-covered crumbs into the base of the prepared springform tin and refrigerate and allow to firm up.
3. Place the cream cheese and condensed milk in a large mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat together on a low speed until well mixed together. Gradually add the eggs and mix in thoroughly. Add the lemon juice and Cointreau and then fold in the chopped cranberries and orange zest.
4. Pour the mixture onto the biscuit base, place on a large baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until the cheesecake is just beginning to colour around the edges, but still has a slight wobble in the centre.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin. Carefully run a thin knife around the edge of the tin to loosen it and then refrigerate overnight. Serve decorated with the sugared cranberries and some thin strips of orange peel.

Serves 10-12.