Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cheesecake with orange cranberry walnut crust

I don't really like "stuff" in my cheesecake, but the crust is always fair game. Toppings are sketchy, but there are solutions; here, we have a regular cheesecake, in the style of a cream cheese pie, with a grainless crust of walnuts and orange flavored cranberries. A nice marmalade on the side lets those who will enjoy the topping, enjoy, while those who won't will be looked up with disdain by the rest of us...

This is not a diet food, this is a full blown cheesecake. If you're on a diet, eat less.

Cheesecake with orange cranberry walnut crust

If you can't find orange flavored cranberries, feel free to substitute regular dried cranberries, which are equally awesome, yet different. Search out an awesome marmalade, but I confess that most marmalades are better than no marmalade.

Do your best to find sour cream without thickeners and gums. It will spread easier over the hot cheesecake, while thicker ones will be harder to spread without tearing the cheesecake.

Now, go forth and bake!


The crust
1 1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup dried Trader Joe's orange flavored cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter, melted

The cheesecake proper
3 8oz packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup half and half

The sour cream topping
24 oz good sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar

On the side
A jar of awesome marmalade, like Bonne Maman's Orange or St. Dalfour's Kumquat
or, as we had in the morning, fresh blueberries


Preheat oven to 375°

In small batches, pulse the walnuts in a blender until chopped and semi-powdered. It's okay to have some chunks. Remove to a bowl and do the same for the cranberries. Go for chopped only, not powdered. Stir in the sugar and mix well. Stir in the butter and mix well, once more. Press into the bottom of a 10" spring form pan. Put the crust in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven to 325° and allow crust to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Cream (mix until creamy...) the cream cheese and sugar using a mixer. If you must do it by hand, do it a long time and really try to get some air into that thing! Add vanilla and 1 egg, mixing well until smooth. Scrape down and repeat with the 2nd egg. Scrape down and repeat with egg #3. Add the half and half and mix well.

Pour the creamy filling over the crust and return the pan to the 325° oven for 60-75 minutes (check it at 60, please) or until the middle is jiggly, but no longer runny. The top may also become slightly golden, which is a good sign, but probably a sign to take it out of the oven, too.

In a separate bowl stir the room temperature sour cream and sugar together, mixing very well. It should be smooth and easily poured. When the cheesecake comes out of the oven, immediately pour the topping over the cake, and gently smooth it over the surface. Return the cake to the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool to room temperature, then run a thin knife around the side to free it from the ring. Chill for about 3-4 hours before covering so it doesn't get condensation. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and chill for 3-4 more hours or until the next day.

Serve plain, with marmalade, or with berries.

Happy birthday, Stela!


  1. I was curious, was the crust just 'cause you like it, or are you gluten free/anti wheat? That made me think how people are arbitrarily banning foods. I just finished an argument with a vegan-"casein is what's wrong with us". Your cheesecake, while making the gluten free crowd happy, would alienate the anti-sugar and lactose intolerant folks. Gives new meaning to "One man's meat..."

  2. The crust is this way because I believe wheat and many other grains are bad for most of us (to some degree). The gluten is the primary offender there, but there are other things in wheat and other grains that might cause issues, as well.

    I'm also anti-sugar, but the difference is that, if one has a healthy metabolism, they can deal with the sugar in a small piece of cheesecake, but if one has something like celiac, even a small dose of gluten can trigger gut issues all over again.

    I believe that there are many auto-immune diseases that could be triggered, hastened, or exacerbated by gluten and other irritants to the human body, so I minimize it in my own diet. I don't totally avoid it, but that's because I have any real outward issues.

    I wouldn't call this arbitrary, as there are numerous studies linking gluten and grains to autoimmune conditions, hypothyroid issues, IBS, and more. We can wait to get them, then remove gluten to cure them, or consider that maybe we would never get them at all if we were more careful.

    On the positive side, there's really nothing in wheat that we need and can't get elsewhere, so there's no harm in not eating it. The downside to NOT eating it is that you don't eat it. ...and it's delicious.



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