Orange and Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

I think one of the great dessert misconceptions of home cooks is the idea that cheesecake is hard to make when in fact it's actually so very easy. There are a lot of kitchen tools that you can use to help you and with a few tips, this orange cranberry cheesecake will be on your table in no time and its beauty is hard to surpass. 

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Orange Cranberry Cheesecake on a wooden board with a piece cut out on a white plate.

To me, a perfect cheesecake should be moist and luscious but still be able to hold its shape when sliced and the one issue to avoid is a big crack or crevice in the top. Cracks in cheesecakes happen for a couple of reasons. The first is that air gets trapped in the batter, expands when the cheesecake is baked and needs to find a way out. It escapes from the cake by creating the massive gash in the top. You can avoid this by making sure you don’t incorporate too much air into the batter as you mix the ingredients together. This can be a challenge, however, because you also want to make sure that there are no lumps left in the batter. So, you need to find the fine line between just beating enough to create a creamy smooth batter, but not so much that air is incorporated. I use a food processor to mix my batter together because it’s quick and effective – the faster you can get the batter smooth, the less time there is to incorporate air. If you are using a stand mixer, use a lower speed which crushes and smooths the cream cheese, but doesn’t whip air in. The other trick is to add the eggs at the very end of the mixing because it’s the egg proteins that will hold air bubbles (think about how you are able to whip air into egg whites). So, once the eggs are added, beat the batter as little as possible. That means you need to make sure there are no lumps in the cream cheese when you add the eggs.

The other way a crevice will form is if the temperature changes drastically and suddenly. This is very easy to avoid. Once the initial baking has happened, leave the cheesecake in the turned off pressure cooker for an hour while the temperature drops slowly. Then transfer it to the counter, but leave it wrapped up for another hour or so to come to room temperature. Then, and only then, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Remember to remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator for at least half an hour before serving though.

Making cheesecakes in the pressure cooker does save you a little time during the baking step (22 minutes instead of 60 minutes), but there’s another good reason to use a pressure cooker. They create an incredibly moist environment and bake the cheesecake at a lower temperature than if you were to do so in the oven (pressure cookers reach about 250ºF, whereas most people bake a cheesecake around 325ºF). Moisture is good for preventing any drying or cracking of the surface of the cake, and the lower temperature means less temperature change for the cake to have to go through. So, it’s a win-win!

A wedge of Orange Cranberry Cheesecake on a white plate with the whole cake in the background.

I love the flavors of this cranberry orange cheesecake for the holidays when you find cranberries everywhere in the grocery stores, but this cheesecake is very easy to modify into other flavors. Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake is perfect for the spring or summer, while Peanut Butter Cheesecake would probably make you really happy any time of the year! If you’re interested in learning how to make a cheesecake in the oven, click here. Once you have the basic batter mixing technique down, you can even make individual strawberry cheesecakes using your sous vide circulator

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Orange and Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 32 m
  • Chilling Time: 8 h
  • Total Time: 8 h 52 m
  • Servings:
    8

Ingredients

  • 15 ginger snap cookies
  • tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • juice of 1 orange
  • ¼ cup water
  • 16 ounces 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
  • cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • zest of one large orange
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Line the inside of a 7-inch cake pan with a large piece of greased aluminum foil (greased side facing up), pushing it into all the edges of the pan.
  2. Crush the ginger snaps in a food processor and process into fine crumbs. Mix the crumbs with the butter and press the crumb mixture into the base of the cake pan. Refrigerate while you prepare the cheesecake batter.
  3. Place the cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, orange juice and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the cranberries start to break down and the sauce has thickened slightly. Stir a few times during the cooking process breaking the cranberries with the back of a spatula. Let the cranberry sauce cool and then transfer them to a zipper sealable bag.
  4. Using the paddle on your stand mixer with low speed, or the regular beaters on a hand mixer on low speed, or a food processor (scraping the sides of the processor bowl several times) blend the cream cheese until it is completely smooth with no lumps. When all the lumps in the cream cheese have disappeared, add the sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Blend to incorporate the ingredients and then add the eggs one at a time, mixing only to distribute the eggs evenly in the batter. Do not over-mix at this point.
  5. Pour half the batter into the cake pan with the ginger snap cookie crust. Cut a corner off the zipper sealable bag with the cranberry mixture and drizzle half the mixture over the cheesecake in a zigzag pattern. Run a knife through the sauce, perpendicular to the zigzags to create a swirl look. Repeat with the remaining cheesecake batter and cranberries, making a pretty swirl pattern on top. Cover the pan tightly with more greased aluminum foil.
  6. Place a rack in the bottom of the pressure cooker and add 2 cups of water. Lower the cake pan into the cooker using a sling made of aluminum foil (fold a piece of aluminum foil into a strip about 2-inches wide by 24-inches long). Fold the ends of the aluminum foil into the cooker and lock the lid in place.
  7. Pressure cook on HIGH for 22 minutes.
  8. Let the pressure drop NATURALLY and let the cheesecake sit in the turned off pressure cooker for one hour. Carefully remove the lid and transfer the cheesecake from the cooker to the counter using the aluminum sling or rack. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature and then remove the foil from the top of the cake pan. Blot any liquid that might have condensed on the surface of the cake, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
  9. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving, and garnish with orange slices and orange zest if desired.
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Comments (1)Post a Reply

  1. My skinflint (Scots, Irish, German) heritage makes me ask: does this REALLY require unsalted butter ? I know that in BAKING, sometimes unsalted is chemically necessary; but here? (I am, for the most part, a low/no salt kinda guy (heart) who PREFERS the taste of salted butter to unsalted. There is not that much salt in 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter and I do not believe would have a negative taste effect.) Yes, unsalted butter would store in the refrigerator for a really long time and could always be considered an emergency back up to the salted. 🙂

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