I have a friend from China. We love to cook together. I teach her how to make American food, and she teaches me how to make Chinese food. We started our friendship by making 156 sugar cookies, complete with multiple colors of frosting. That was five years ago. Since then, we've made meatloaf (in the shape of a rat...her idea, not mine), chocolate chip cookie dough pie, Sprite bread, bean and pasta soup, fresh pumpkin soup, cheesy potatoes, and many other dishes that I can't even recall at the moment. It's a wonderful thing. :-)
This past weekend, we made stuffed bell peppers (a Chinese recipe), vegetable couscous (my recipe), and a chocolate cranberry cheesecake (inspired by an American cookbook). It was all delicious!
Here's the recipe for our amazing dessert...
First, we made our own whole berry cranberry sauce. We combined one cup of frozen cranberries (partially thawed) and 3/4 cup water in a pan and brought them to a boil.
You want to boil the cranberries until the skins pop open, about 5 minutes. At that point, remove them from the heat and add a dash of allspice, a dash of cloves, 1/4 teaspoon of orange extract, and a half cup of sugar. Mix it all together, making sure the sugar dissolves. We chose to also add a teaspoon of unflavored gelatin to make the mixture a bit thicker (this is completely optional).
Put the cranberry mixture in the refrigerator to cool off while you work on the crust. For the crust, we ground up some chocolate cookies until we had 1 1/3 cup of crumbs (oh, how I wished I had a food processor while doing this). We used Newman's O's - they don't contain high fructose corn syrup.
Combine the cookie crumbs with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup melted butter.
Pat the filling into the bottom of a 9" springform pan. If you can, press the crumbs up the sides of the pan about 1-inch. This requires finely ground cookie crumbs - without a food processor, I was able only to achieve moderately ground crumbs. Alas!
Now it's time for the filling!
Combine 2 packages of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sugar until smooth.
Add 3/4 cup sour cream and 1 tablespoon cornstarch - beat well. Add 2 eggs, lightly beaten - beat slowly until combined.
At this point, pull the cranberry sauce out of the refrigerator. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the cranberries. You want a little juice, but not too much...
Fold one cup of the cranberries into the cheesecake batter.
Pour over the crust and smooth the top.
Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges are raised and the middle is almost set (we had to bake ours 10-15 minutes longer). Wait 10 minutes after removing from oven and then run a knife around the edges of the pan. Cool for an hour longer, and then refrigerate overnight.
Before serving, drizzle each slice with fudge topping for that extra special touch.
Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake
8 oz. cranberries
3/4 cup water
1/4 t. orange extract
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed
In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries and water to a boil. Boil until the skin of the berries pops open, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add allspice, cloves, orange extract, and sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined. Cool in refrigerator.
For the crust, combine wafer crumbs, sugar, and butter in a small bowl. Press into the bottom and one inch the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream and cornstarch, beating well. Add eggs, and beat on low speed just until combined. Using a slotted spoon, spoon one cup of cranberry sauce into mixture; fold in. Pour into crust.
Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen; cool one hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.
Before serving, drizzle pieces with chocolate topping.
This recipe is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday , Tasty Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Foodie Friday and This Week's Cravings: Thanksgiving Treats and Sweets!