Holidays are made for dessert

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last week we covered two of my family’s favorite side dishes for the holidays, and this week I think I have the perfect dessert for you. First you need to know that I love cheesecake, of any kind. My daughters prefer theirs plain, my son won’t touch it, and I love any flavor. For several years I made a cranberry orange one at Christmas and a pumpkin one at Thanksgiving. I have a different plan for Christmas this year so that meant changing up Thanksgiving a little.

I took my recipe for the cranberry orange cheesecake and added my brandied cranberries for a topping. They go perfect together.


Cranberry orange cheesecake with brandied cranberry topping



1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 tablespoon sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup ground pecans


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl mix the crumbs, sugar, melted butter and nuts and toss lightly with a fork. Press this mixture firmly over the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.


Cheesecake filling

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup sugar

32 ounces cream cheese, room temp

1/2 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

5 eggs


In a small saucepan just cover the cranberries with water and simmer until soft and plump, about 4 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth then beat in the orange juice, zest and liqueur. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each one. Then with a spatula gently fold in the cranberries and spoon mixture into the cooled pan onto the cooked crust. Bake until the cheesecake is just set when the pan is gently shaken, about one hour. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Serve in thin slices with the brandied cranberry topping and a small dollop of fresh whipped cream.


Brandied cranberries

2 16-ounce bags fresh cranberries

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup brandy


Spray a 9-by-13 inch pan with nonstick spray. Stir together the cranberries and sugar in the pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Remove from the oven and pour the brandy over the cranberries and stir. Let the mixture cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve with the cheesecake. (If all you can find is 12 ounce bag, use two of them with a 1 1/ 2 cup sugar.)


Christina Hall writes a weekly food column for The Democrat. She can be reached at