I don't have much to say here, except that you will not be disappointed with this recipe. I even royally messed up and the water bath leaked into my cheesecake and it STILL turned out awesome! So, do yourself a favor, make this dessert, and indulge.
~Makes one 8 inch cheesecake~
24 golden oreo cookies (or any other cookie/cracker of choice)
6 T butter, melted
2/3 c heavy cream
3 earl grey tea bags
32 oz (2 LB) full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 c sugar
1/4 c honey
1/4 t salt
2/3 c sour cream
4 eggs, separated
1 c sugar, divided, plus more for rolling the cranberries in
2 c fresh cranberries, divided
3 T butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1/4 c heavy cream, room temperature
1/2 t sea salt
Let's make that crust. In a food processor breakdown the cookies until they resemble sand and then slowly incorporate the melted butter. Press the crust to the bottom of a greased, 8 or 9 inch spring form pan. You can also work the crust up the sides of the pan if you like that look on your cheesecake, just make sure it is even throughout. Place the pan in the fridge to set the crust.
In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream on medium low with the tea bags inside. Once the cream starts to slowly simmer, remove from heat and pour the cream mixture into a glass measuring cup or a small bowl. Let the tea bags continue to steep in the cream for at least 20 minutes to get optimal earl grey flavor.
Meanwhile, start the cranberry topping. Rinse out that small saucepan and add 1/2 c sugar and 1/2 c water to it. Place on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved, stirring often. Remove from heat. Toss 1 cup of cranberries into the syrup, then remove them with a slotted spoon and place onto a wire rack over a parchment-lined baking sheet. Be sure to keep the cranberries separate from one another, as they will stick. Set aside to dry for at least an hour. Put the other cup on cranberries into the syrup and put on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, and pour into bowl and set aside for later.
At this point, remove the cake pan from the fridge and place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
To make the cheesecake, mix the cream cheese with the paddle attachment. It is best to do one block of cream cheese at a time to make sure it is extra smooth. BE SURE the cream cheese is at room temperature or else it will be lumpy and yield a lackluster cheesecake. Once it is completely smooth, mix in the sugar, honey, and salt until incorporated, then add the cooled tea/cream mixture and the sour cream. Add the yolks, one at a time, and mix only until just incorporated.. don't overmix! Now place the batter into a large bowl and wash out your mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed until they form stiff peaks. Take about half of the egg whites and gently fold them into the batter. then fold in the remaining whites.
Once the crust has baked for 15 minutes, wrap the outside of the cake pan thoroughly with foil. This will prevent water from coming into your cake while it's in the water bath. Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust and place the cake pan in a roasting pan (or any sort of pan with high edges). Fill the pan with hot water about halfway up the cheesecake pan (be sure not to drip water into the cheesecake!) and carefully place it in the oven. Now, all ovens are different, so the time on this will vary. I recommend starting with an hour and 15 minutes. Avoid opening the oven door as much as possible. If your cake seems to be browning too quickly, lower the oven temperature.
Now, back to the cranberry topping. To make the delicious cranberry caramel sauce, place 1/2 c sugar in that trusty small saucepan on medium heat. Stir the sugar frequently and watch it melt away into a beautiful amber color and then put the heat on low. Tip: put your fan on for this part, it can get smoky... but really try your best not to burn the sugar because that mess is a rough one to clean up. Now, SLOWLY incorporate the pieces of butter and stir constantly. It will bubble, so be prepared. If you just throw all of that butter in at once, it will splatter, harden the sugar and it will be a tough recovery from there. Once the butter has been thoroughly stirred in, slowly add the heavy cream. Again, it's going to bubble a lot because even though your heavy cream is at room temperature, that caramel is much much hotter. At this point you're going to be really tempted to try that caramel sauce because that smell is just too good! Well, don't. It is way too hot for you to handle. Set it aside and let it cool down.
Blend the cranberry/simple syrup mixture from earlier until smooth and then incorporate into the caramel. Strain the sauce to make it extra smooth and beautiful. To make the sugared cranberries, take the cranberries from the baking rack and roll them in sugar. Aren't they gorgeous?
You'll know your cheesecake is done when the middle still slightly jiggles but the outside looks pretty set. Over-baked cheesecakes are sad, so you can also temp the cake if you are unsure...145 degrees is perfect. Once finished, turn off the oven and leave the door ajar. Introducing cooler air immediately to the cake can cause it to crack. Leave it in there for 45-60 minutes.
There are many ways to go about topping your cheesecake with the caramel, but no matter what, make sure that cake has cooled down a lot first to avoid a mess. If you want just a caramel drizzle and want to save the rest of the sauce for something else, remove the spring form from the outside (leave the base) and go crazy with the drizzle. If you want to pour all of that sauce on top of the cake like I did, you can do it will it is still in the spring form and then place it in the fridge to set, or you can take the cake out of the spring form and pour the sauce on top to let it drip down the sides like I did. Up to you! Don't forget to decorate with those sugared cranberries as well. Cheesecakes need to cool for at least 4 hours in the fridge. I know, it's hard.... but it is worth it!!
Enjoy your breakfast. I mean dessert.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? I'll be here.