Saturday, December 11, 2010

Seeking Christmas Cookie Help

I've got a big week ahead. I made it through dead week fine, but now the prospect of my looming finals is seriously stressing me out. And I don't get stressed easily, so that's saying something.

Luckily, I've got you guys (and food) to keep me going until Thursday, when I will finally be finished with this first semester.

Anyway, for the past few weeks - who am I kidding, months - I've been slowly accumulating Christmas cookie recipes in my bookmarks folder. I'm planning on baking when I get home next Thursday (it's a nice de-stresser) and then again on Friday before the family gift exchange and subsequent cookie swap. Mom said two kinds of cookies would be enough. But I'm the girl who made four desserts at Thanksgiving. How are we supposed to choose only two types of cookies?!

Here are some of the candidates:

Of the sandwich variety:
For some reason the concept of sandwich cookies is very big in the food world these days. From whoopie pies to homemade spins on Oreos, there are lots of different sandwich cookies popping up all over the place. I particularly like a cappuccino-chocolate flavor at Martha Stewart. I've also been wanting to make Linzer cookies for years (ever since I saw them in Barefoot Contessa). I love Martha's take on them. The cut out is a Christmas tree. And I like that you could fill them with all kinds of jams. We even have a cranberry one at home that would be particularly seasonal. Plus they're just so pretty. Finally, Joy the Baker has a recipe for chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies that looks delicious.

Of the biscotti variety:
I really love biscotti. A part of me says that I should make the gingerbread biscotti from last year that were soo good. Another part of me wants to change it up a little bit. Recently I've been intrigued by biscotti recipes that are traditional and contain only eggs instead of eggs and oil/butter, which most recipes do. I find that the final product in the eggs-only version is a lot crisper (likely due to the absence of fat's tenderizing qualities), which I enjoy. The only question then is what flavor to go with. There are these almond-ginger biscotti, but I'm also intrigued by recipes that adds spices like cinnamon and cardamom for a seasonal touch.

Of the bar variety:
The cranberry bliss bars last years were also a hit. Once again though, my baking ADD is keeping me from baking them again this year. However, I've found a few enticing bar cookies. These cranberry crumb bars satisfy my curiosity for baking any kind of crumb bar. These crumb bars also feature cranberry, but they've got a bit more going on with additions of orange and warm spices. But maybe cranberries are too Thanksgiving? Indecision. And then there are these pear, pistachio, and ginger blondies that are decidedly more sophisticated. I love that they are cut into wedges instead of squares like regular blondies. Then it's like you're eating a scone instead of what blondies really are: chocolate chip cookie batter baked in the shape of a square.

Other contenders:
These cookies don't necessarily all fit into one category, but I still want to make them. I love all things almond and these almond macaroons look both delicious and exciting to make, as I've never tackled an egg white-based cookie before. But one pound of almond paste? That stuff's expensive! Keeping in the nut category, these walnut acorn cookies are just about the cutest things I've ever seen. They sort of remind me of the toffee squares we used to make with their combination of nut, shortbread, and chocolate. These pumpkin truffles also look yummy. I love anything with pumpkin in it, but, as with the cranberries, I'm wondering if they're too autumn-y to have around at Christmastime.

Of course, they are also all the reliable cookies we've been making for years, like the cranberry oatmeal cookies, the toffee squares, and the peppermint bark.

But what do you guys think? Maybe there is something else out there that I've missed. I'm really torn over what to make. There are just so many options! Help (desperately) wanted.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

recipes tested, no. 2

[Next time Rob has a little bowl, I'll take and post a good photo!] 

I think Sara is still planning to make autumn spiced ice cream for Thanksgiving dessert - a few weeks ago, I was looking for a healthier (eh, no heavy cream, whole milk, or eggs) ice cream or frozen yogurt to make that was sort of seasonal - I thought about rum raisin, but we didn't have rum.  I thought about pumpkin.  I thought about gingersnap.  And then Sara pointed me in this direction...and she suggested I try it out so she could she how it turned out with a few adjustments.  The original recipe is: 

  • 2 cups 2% reduced fat milk, divided
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 Tbsp evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure maple extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup milk with the arrowroot. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 1 3/4 cup milk, half-and-half, evaporated cane juice, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Cook over medium heat, gently whisking occasionally, until the mixture just begins to boil, about 10 minutes. When the mixture reaches the soft boiling point (bubbles are just starting to break the surface), remove from heat, and whisk in the milk & arrowroot mixture. Whisk until the mixture noticeably thickens, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the vanilla extract, maple extract, and spices. Transfer ice cream base to a medium bowl. Chill completely in the refrigerator, about 2-3 hours.
  3. Freeze according to ice cream manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an air-tight freezable container and freeze until “ripened” (hardened).
Sara asked Lauren if she could make it with skim milk and she replied that she thought so - it would just freeze harder.  So, this was how I revised the recipe:

  • 2 cups skim milk, divided
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure maple extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves I just don't have ground cloves!
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup milk with the cornstarch. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 1 3/4 cup milk, half-and-half, sugar, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Cook over medium heat, gently whisking occasionally, until the mixture just begins to boil, about 10 minutes. When the mixture reaches the soft boiling point (bubbles are just starting to break the surface), remove from heat, and whisk in the milk & cornstarch mixture. Whisk until the mixture noticeably thickens, about 30 seconds. Okay, I'm not sure what happened here - but the mixture was not noticeably thickening much.  Perhaps it was a little thicker - but not much - maybe this was because of the skim milk or using cornstarch - I'm not sure.  So, I probably whisked for about 2 minutes, then just proceeded feeling like I'd totally messed it up and it wouldn't become ice cream properly.  Whisk in the vanilla extract, maple extract, and spices. Transfer ice cream base to a medium bowl. Chill completely in the refrigerator, about 2 - 3 hours.
  3. Once it was in the refrigerator for a few hours, I poured it into the frozen ice cream maker bowl - I was pretty worried because it was very thin.  The ice cream I had made before, even the skim milk ones, had been much thicker - so I was convinced it would not turn into ice cream.  Twenty minutes after the ice cream maker had been running, I came back and it wasn't getting thicker - erghhh.  But then - after about another 5 minutes - it started turning into ice cream! 
Since I love gingersnaps and bought two bags for a pumpkin cheesecake I was going to make for Rob's birthday, I just used some of those and broke them into small pieces and added to the ice cream right before I took it out of the maker - so it swirled in well.  It actually turned out really well - and it wasn't too icy because of the skim milk - and the ginger snap pieces got sort of soaked in the ice cream - so they're nice and chewy like the gingersnap crust on a cheesecake.  We still have a ton left in the freezer and it's pretty tasty - I wish some of the other autumn flavors were more prevalent - it just tastes like cinnamon vanilla ice cream, but it would go wonderfully with apple pie!  And I bet a shot (or three!) of spiced rum would taste excellent in this!

recipes tested, no. 1

I will better going forward about documenting the things I've been making - especially the things I've made from recipes we've all been wondering about.  

First, a couple weeks ago, I made this vegetable cobbler, as recommended by Sara.  While we were chatting, I told her I wanted to make something warm and autumn-y but healthy.  Nothing with pasta.  Nothing with too much cheese.  Nothing with cream.  Nothing with meat.  So, here we go, from Ezra Pound Cake:

Vegetable Cobbler

Adapted from “Moosewood Restaurant New Classics”
Feel free to substitute the vegetables in the recipe for your favorites – sliced celery, cut-up asparagus spears, diced red bell pepper, diced butternut squash, cut-up green beans, etc.
Serves 6
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 to 5 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes (or butternut squash)
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped carrots (or parsnips)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of hot sauce (optional)
Biscuit Topping:
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (or any herb you have on hand)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.
2. Warm the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onions, fennel and garlic, cover, and cook on medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the salt, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, mushrooms and mustard. Cook until the mushrooms start to release their juices, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the sweet potato, white potato, carrot, black pepper and water or stock, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.
5. Stir the dissolved cornstarch mixture into the simmering vegetables, stirring constantly. When the liquid starts to thicken, mix in the peas, corn, soy sauce and salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. (You can also add a dash of hot sauce.)
6. Pour the vegetables into the prepared baking dish, and set aside.
7. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter and buttermilk or yogurt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients with as few strokes as possible to make a soft dough.
8. Drop the biscuit batter over the vegetables in the dish in six equal mounds. Sprinkle the dill over the dough.
9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of a biscuit comes out clean. Serve immediately.
I changed the recipe slightly, to reflect what we had - and I didn't want to measure all the vegetables or not use them all in the cobbler, except for the frozen corn and green peas - so I just used two small yellow onions, two fennel bulbs instead of one, 3 or 4 large garlic cloves, an entire butternut squash (but a pretty small one), 2 or 3 parsnips, vegetable stock instead of water, only about 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter for the biscuit topping, and I used fat free plain yogurt for the biscuit topping - not buttermilk.  I followed the rest of the recipe pretty much exactly.  But, since I probably used more vegetables than the recipe instructed, it was good that we had an 11 x 14 baking dish - it wouldn't have all fit in a 9 x 13 dish!  Note to Katie: take better recipe notes next time!  

The baking temperature and time seemed just right.  I was worried about how the biscuit topping would taste - but it was really great!  It was definitely filling like a chicken or turkey pot pie, but I didn't feel so guilty eating it since it wasn't very rich.  Rob and I both loved it and we had a mountain of leftovers that tasted great reheated! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

In response...

"Easy and light appetizers to have around noon to 3 pm (we're shooting to eat around 4) - thoughts? Maybe a warm dip with crudite and something else? There will be two hungry boys watching football all morning and afternoon!"

I love the idea of a warm dip with some vegetables to go alongside. There is a really good warm white bean dip with spinach and ricotta that we made around the holidays last year. It requires a food processor. Are you going to invest in one of those? I suppose you could also use a hand mixer, too.... For the other appetizer, I'd also keep it light - you don't want to spoil your appetite, after all. Mom suggested the Archer's Farms (Target) line of appetizers, but those are too doughy and rich for a pre-feast snack in my opinion. Ideally you want something that you could make ahead of time. What about some sort of spiced nuts? Those are great for eating while watching the game(s), but they're pretty light and can be made a few days ahead of time.

"Katlyn usually does a salad course at home - last year they did a pumpkin and sage gnocchi but she said it was very filling - so we're thinking a seasonal salad. She suggested something with fennel - still looking for a good recipe. I liked that salad we made once with jicama."

Are you talking about the jicama salad that mom made one year with the little Christmas tree cut-outs? Yeah, that's cute. You could do the same thing, but with leave cut-outs instead. Or forgo the jicama, use shaved fennel (and some radicchio perhaps), toasted walnuts, pomegranate arils (yumm), and a light citrus vinaigrette. You're into arugula, too, so that would be a good base.

"3 Cranberries (or maybe just 2 - we might not do a jellied cranberry): cranberry relish and cranberry conserve (is this what we serve warm?)."

I'd go with just the two cranberries unless Rob or someone else just has to have the canned stuff. For Thanksgiving we don't ever serve the conserve warm, but I like it at room temperature or heated when I have leftovers. I think it's good to have things that you can serve at room temperature since refrigerator space may be tight.

"Whole turkey. (Ah! I have no idea how to do this or what tools I will need! - What should I stuff inside it? Oh jeez - I really hate dead animals - Rob will have to do this!)"

A whole turkey seems like a lot for four people, but I guess someone requested the dark meat. Anyway, I've heard really great things about Alton Brown's turkey recipe. (I mean, it has 2507 reviews and is rated 5 stars.) He brines the turkey. Pretty much every resource I read suggests that a whole turkey should be brined to ensure that the breast meat doesn't dry out. A Kosher bird (which has been injected with a salt solution) would have the same effect. Just be sure that if you buy a frozen turkey that you leave enough time to let it thaw in the refrigerator. And I agree that the only things you should stuff inside it are aromatics - onion, carrot, celery, a halved apple, etc.

"Gravy. (I also have no idea how to do this, nor do I know how i will serve it!)"

Typically once you find the turkey recipe, the gravy recipe is right alongside. If you want it to be a bit more flavored, then you can seek out a specific recipe with particular flavor variations (pepper, apple, spice, mushroom, etc.). Dad makes our gravy kind of strangely - without butter, owing to Nama's Kosher cooking - but in general I think I've got the idea down. Once the turkey has roasted, you skim off the fat, leaving behind only pan juices. Then you add turkey (or chicken) stock to the browned bits on the bottom of the pan (called fond, if you're snooty and/or French) and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the browned bits. Meanwhile, you make a roux in a saucepan with skimmed fat/butter/oil and flour and cook it until the floury, starchy appearance has gone away. Then you add the turkey stock mixture, whisking constantly, until the gravy is thickened. And I agree with mom's suggestion to serve it in a dish with a spoon on the side.

"Rolls. (I don't really see why rolls are necessary, but Katlyn and Rob seemed offended when I suggested we leave them out - with all this food, is bread and butter really necessary?!)"

Maybe not for you (or me), but for them bread and butter may be necessary. Whole Foods makes good whole wheat rolls. Just think of it as buying bread for the leftover turkey sandwiches.

"I don't know if we need something else during the main course - jeez, there's definitely enough food! - but I feel like we're missing something 'fresh'... does that make sense? I like the 'freshness' of the cranberry relish - everything else is very 'cooked.' That's why I like that we have fresh green beans at home - would that be too much?"

Well, technically the green beans are cooked, but I get what you mean about needing something crisp. I just did a search on Epicurious for green beans and then narrowed the results with "Thanksgiving" and 39 results came up. Most are a variation of green bean + crunch element (nut, etc.) + aromatic (citrus, herbs, etc.).

"For dessert...
- Ice cream (maybe rum raisin or the autumn spice was good too!)
- Either apple pie or apple pear or something like that
- Pumpkin cheesecake - Rob just wants something with pumpkin and I don't like pumpkin pie too much...
- Some sort of warm cocktail!"

Sounds good. How was the autumn spice ice cream? I'm still waiting on your recipe notes.... What about this Rum Raisin Apple Pie? If you don't want to make the pumpkin cheesecake, you could make pumpkin ice cream instead. Here's one with gingersnaps to get the full cheesecake experience. David Lebovitz also has a recipe and I like his idea about adding candied walnuts to it. Or you could add crystallized ginger (too weird?)! For the third dessert you could then do something with pears. Like a pear crumble or a pear cake. I don't know too much about warm cocktails, but I was just thinking about it and what about some sort of mulled wine? Or mulled hard cider? I'm pretty sure these drinks actually exist - plus they would make your house smell wonderful!

P.S. What are your thoughts about chocolate desserts at Thanksgiving? I posed the question at Serious Eats today and got mixed responses?

Okay, that is all. xxoo

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I found these today...

I can't wait til Christmas when we're all together.

Love you guys. xxoo

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cranberries Two Ways

Thanksgiving at our house actually includes cranberries three ways - a relish, a conserve and a jelly. The jelly is for Marc and until last year was the kind from a can, served with the ridges still showing - kind of like a guide for cutting slices. Last year we tried to make our own, and the results were a bit mixed, actually kind of "melty". Maybe we didn't use enough gelatin, or maybe the conserve we started with had too much "stuff" to properly mold. In any event, not yet a recipe to share. But the other two, they are tried and true and our family's Thanksgiving table wouldn't be complete without both.

Given their history, I have no good excuse for having only this one, very bad photo, to show.
from 2008 - the relish is on the left, the conserve on the right
First up, the relish - I think I first made this in 1985, the year we moved into our house and the first year we hosted Thanksgiving. The original recipe was from Southern Living. But I quickly made it my own.

Good thing I know this one by heart - the card is pretty much illegible now!

My Cranberry Relish
1 navel orange, quartered
12 ounces cranberries
1 apple, quartered and seeded (granny smith or golden delicious)
1/4 cup pecans
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 lemon, cut in half
1-2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

This one really needs a food processor with the chopping blade. First, add the orange quarters and very coarsely chop. Then add the other ingredients and chop until there aren't any too-big bits. Don't overprocess or it won't be pretty. Chill, covered.

I make this on Wednesday so the flavors have time to marry. It keeps really well.

And now the conserve. This one is adapted from the Barefoot Contessa's Cranberry Fruit Conserve (from her Parties! cookbook, which I received as a gift from Francie in we've been making this for seven years). The adapting is in the cooking instructions - Ina says it takes 5 minutes for the skins to pop, cooking over low heat - in our experience, it's much longer!

Cranberry Conserve
12 ounces cranberries
scant 1-1/2 cups sugar (I'm sure you could use just 1-1/4 cups)
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
3/4 cup raisins (we've used golden and black, both work fine)
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Cook the cranberries, sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until it foams and the cranberries' skins pop open. Add the apple, zests and juices and cook for 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts. Let cool, serve chilled. [note that when I found the link for Ina's recipe, I saw her photo - it sure looks like she added fresh orange zest before serving - I think we'll try holding out a bit of both zests to add just before serving]

We make this on Wednesday, too. And it keeps really well. Suggest using some of the leftovers in a Warmed Cranberry Brie (in place of the canned whole-berry sauce).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

I haven't made this cheesecake in a while, but I'm going to try to be as descriptive and precise as possible in the directions. I have pretty strong feelings about cheesecake, and this one definitely satisfies.

The cranberry puree can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until you actually make the cake. I've copied the original recipe but written in notes as I see fit. I realize that makes it more of a hassle to print. Sorry in advance.

For the cranberry puree:
2 cups fresh cranberries (or frozen, thawed)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup orange juice (I'll bet you can probably just use the juice and zest of one orange)
2 tablespoons orange zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon nutmeg
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Make the cranberry puree. Combine all ingredients except vanilla extract in heavy large saucepan. (You're not going to add the vanilla in until the end because its flavor dissipates when heated.) Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens (you know, cranberries, lots of pectin!), stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. (The recipe know calls for you to transfer this to a food processor to puree it. It should be fine in a blender, though.) So, transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the vanilla and puree until smooth. Strain into a medium bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. (I'm into this sort of thing, but I remember the leftovers from the strainer being especially tasty. Seed-y, but tasty.)

For the crust:
2 3/4 cups finely ground butter biscuit cookies or butter cookies (I'm pretty sure I use gingersnaps. I think you could also use graham crackers, too. Whatever you like - chocolate wafers, even.)
2 tablespoons sugar (You could certainly reduce or omit this depending on how sweet the cookies are. Butter cookies tend to be pretty sweet, so you could omit it entirely.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (May or may not be necessary depending on if you use gingersnaps.)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted (I'd definitely cut this in half, if not more. You do not need an entire stick of melted butter to bind together a cookie crust! However, if you use less butter the crust won't "bind" together as much, but it will still hold up. Start with 3 tablespoons, and if that's not enough to get it all bound, add another tablespoon.)

Make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (the original recipe just calls for you to chill the crust, but I don't believe in just chilling crusts. Bake it for 10 minutes and it will get nice and toasty and delicious). Wrap the outside of a 10-inch springform fan with a double layer of aluminum foil. Process cookie crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon (you can crush the cookies by hand with a rolling pin or the bottom of a pan). Stir in the butter. Once clumps start to form, you've added enough butter. The crumbs should hold together if you press them, not just fall into a sad pile. Pour the crumbs into the springform pan. Using the bottom and sides of measuring cup, press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes in the middle rack of the oven. After 10 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling:
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature (very important! Also, you could use all Neufchatel if you want, or half Neufchatel and half regular)
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream (you could use low-fat if that's what you buy)
1/2 cup whipping cream (not the same as heavy cream, it usually has less fat - but you could still use heavy cream, too)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Make the filling. Using electric mixer (or hand mixer), beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add sugar and beat until well-blended. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure that everything is getting well-blended. That's half the battle with cheesecake. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in sour cream, whipping cream, and vanilla. Mix well.

Transfer 1/3 of the filling to the baked crust. Then dollop 1/3 of the cranberry puree atop the filling (just little dollops spaced across the filling). Repeat layering of filling and puree 2 more times (ending with the puree on top). Using a knife (butter knife will do), swirl the puree through the filling, creating a marbled design. (This is easy to do using figure-eight motions, but after a few swirls you'll see the marble design begin to form. Just be sure to swirl so that you get all the puree from the lower layers incorporated into the batter.)

Meanwhile, but a pot of water on to boil. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Situate the pan on the center rack of the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake until the cheesecake puffs around the edges, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (The top of the cheesecake will be set by this point but it may jiggle slightly when shaken.) Turn off the oven. Leave the oven door ajar (this is easily accomplished using a wooden spoon) and let the cake stand in the oven for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the cake from the oven. Run a knife around the pan sides to loosen the cake (this will prevent it from cracking as it cools - things expand as they cool). Cool completely. Remove foil from pan sides. Cover cake and chill overnight. The cake can be made two days ahead and kept refrigerated. (Sometimes I put the still-warm cake in the refrigerator, but I'd recommend to let it cool at least a little while on the counter before you transfer it to the refrigerator.)

You could serve this with a cranberry compote or this cranberry balsamic glaze, which looks scrumptious. Let me know how this turns out. I love the mix of the creamy filling and the tart, smooth cranberry puree. Yum!
Me, enjoying the cranberry swirl cheesecake for my birthday one year.
(Looks like I used gingersnaps, but it's a bit hard to tell.)