Kraft's website, and is super easy. No water-bath, no tricky ingredients, no complicated instructions. I put a graham crust on it so that you don't even have to worry about pre-baking a shell or mixing up dough. It's also almost impossible to mess up, which I know for a fact, seeing as I slightly over-bake it almost every time I make it and it has never come out anything but delicious.
The cranberry-apple topping is a beast of my own creation in response to the fact that I, one, wanted something unique, and two, find a lot of traditional toppings to be overly sweet. The cranberries give this topping a tangy twist that helps balance the sweetness of the apples and the rest of the cheesecake. If you are really short on time or lacking in motivation, you can buy a can of pre-made fruit topping and forgo making your own. Since you can make the topping while the cheesecake bakes, it doesn't really add much time onto the process and it tastes way better than store bought, I say go for it-- but if you need that hour to clean your bathroom before your guests come over, or to get that mysterious stain out of your shirt before you go over to someone's house for dinner, I totally understand.
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here)
Cranberry & Apple Topped Cheesecake
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
4 eight ounce packages of cream cheese (total of 32 ounces)
12 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled
12 ounces of fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 medium sized, sweet apples, chopped into small pieces (approximately 2 cups)
Step #1 - Preheat the over to 325* F.
Step #2 - Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter in a bowl. Stir until all ingredients are well incorporated. Mixture will be crumbly and loose, but holds together when pressed into a ball with your hand. If the mixture is not holding together, add additional butter.
Step #3 - Press the graham mixture into the base and sides of a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan. Crust should reach 2 - 3 inches up the side of the pan. Set aside when completed.
Step #4 - Melt white chocolate using a double boiler or in the microwave and set aside. You want the chocolate to cool, but not become firm or harden.
Step #5 - Using a mixer, beat together the sugar, vanilla, and cream cheese until smooth. Add in white chocolate and continue mixing
Step #6 - While mixing, add in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between eggs to make sure the mixture is combining evenly.
Step #7 - Pour the cream cheese mixture into the graham cracker crust. Smooth out the top with a spatula.
Step #8 - Bake for 45-55 minutes until firm. Ideally, you never let the top of a cheesecake brown or crack, but I almost always let it turn a little golden and occasionally crack. Since I always put topping on my cheesecake, no one is ever the wiser. If you are going to serve it plain, you will want to be conscious of not allowing this to happen.
(Side note: I always put a baking sheet under my spring from pan, as my spring form pan leaks and I end up with drips on the bottom of my oven. If your pan is more awesome than mine, you don't need to do this. But, if you want to ensure you don't have to clean your oven when you are done, I recommend it.)
Step #9 - Allow the cake to come to room temperature and then refrigerate for a minimum of four hours before adding topping and serving. Store leftover cake in the refrigerator.
To make the topping, simply put all the ingredients together in a sauce pan and bring them to a boil. Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture starts to thicken. Cool the mixture and then cover and refrigerate it until time to serve the cake. Add the topping just before serving. Store leftover topping in the refrigerator. If you have a lot leftover, it is also good on ice-cream or yogurt.