Friday, November 19, 2010

Cranberry Orange and Gingersnap Cheesecake Parfaits

For some inexplicable reason, my mind has always associated baking cheesecakes with some formal event. Nay....not formal, per se, but special...

Recently however, I've been thinking about how poorly some of my past cheesecakes in life have turned out but how much I would really like to improve upon that. I had the common cheesecake troubleshooting errors: the center was undercooked, the filling had lumps in it, you know. Minor, but major things like that.

Thus, when a friend of mine recently had baby number 3, I thought taking her a cheesecake would be appropriate. Celebrating the birth of a baby must warrant at least that.

So in my excitement I got straight to work beating the cream cheese and sugar for minutes on end with my hand mixer and oh, how creamy and smooth was I able to get this texture. I beamed with pride. Being patient and allowing the three blocks of cream cheese to sit at room temperature for an hour had paid off!!! In fact, my excitement proliferated so much in such a short amount of time that I thoughtlessly poured this lovely filling into the crust, and almost into the oven when it dawned on me that I forgot the eggs.

Eggs. How on earth does a cheesecake survive without them? It doesn't!

Well. I very gingerly attempted to spoon the filling out of the crust and back into my mixing bowl, hoping so desperately that I could salvage this filling. It proved to be a debacle, as bit after bit of crust crumbled right into the filling. A cheesecake with crust bits in the filling.... not pretty.

I was about the throw away the entire thing with disappointment smeared all over my apron when the two syllable word, parfait, came flying through my head.

I guess it wasn't a total failure after all. And best of all, this recipe is safe to give children or lactating mothers because the cheesecake filling part is raw-egg free!

My husband and I both really enjoyed some for ourselves! They are yummy and the topping and crust are very interchangeable (you could swap crushed chocolate wafers for the gingersnaps and do candied oranges on top, etc).


Cranberry-Orange & Gingersnap Cheesecake Parfaits

3 cups ground gingersnap cookies (I used a food processor for this part- blender would work too, or a heavy hand smashing tool)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted and slightly cooled
3 8-oz bars of cream cheese, at room temperature (low fat works fine)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream (you can use the low fat stuff here too)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 package fresh cranberries
Zest of 1 orange
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (just depending on how sweet ya like it)
1/2 cup water

Make the topping: In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberries, orange zest, sugar, and water and bring to a boil. Allow to boil, stirring occasionally, until the berries "pop" (or, open) somewhat and is thickened slightly (I think it takes about 10 minutes). Remove from heat, transfer to another dish, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until cooled.

Make the crust: in a large bowl, combine the ground gingersnap cookies and melted butter. Stir until the cookies are moist (although I shun to use that word).

Make the filling: in a large bowl using a hand mixer, combine the softened cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream. Blend in the vanilla.

To assemble, place crust in the bottom of a clear glass. Spoon filling (1 or 2 big spoon fills) of filling on top, then the cranberry mixture on top of that. Refrigerate leftovers.

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