Monday, December 27, 2010

Cranberry Crown Cheesecake and Christmas Pies

Since this week's selection for the Heavenly Bakers was very appropriate for holiday celebrations and because I was already taking two pies to my in-laws' house for Christmas dinner I planned to take this cheesecake to my mom's house for our smaller Christmas lunch. And, since I had recently purchased the correct size of tip to make ladyfingers I decided to try them again. Besides, my previous ones didn't get posted since I didn't actually finish making the lemon crown (maybe I'll try again sometime). For some reason my ladyfinger batter doesn't soak in all of the powdered sugar. Here are one of the sheets of completed lady fingers:

I opted to make a round ladyfinger base like we did for the lemon crown rather than positioning the individual ladyfinger across the base.

The cheesecake filling came together very quickly. I wrapped the springform pan with foil and then put the whole thing in one of my 12" cake pans with water. Water in the pan sure does make it difficult to carry to and from the oven.

It looked really good when it came out of the oven. I left it out to cool for about an hour and then covered it with a bowl and stuck it in the fridge.

There was a little condensation on the bowl in the morning. That moisture caused the ladyfingers to get a little soggy, but they weren't bad. The cranberry topping came together very quickly. It took a minute or two longer than the recipe indicated to get the cranberries to pop but not that long. I found some ribbon that perfectly matched the color of the cranberries and wrapped it around the cheesecake. Then I played with my Christmas gift (a SLR camera) to try to get a nice picture of the cheesecake. I still have lots to learn on how to use it.

I took the cheesecake to my mom's house, and it was well received by everyone there. It sat out a bit so it wasn't as hard as it should have been, but it still tasted great. Daniel who doesn't normally care for cheesecake really loved it. He liked how it wasn't quite as rich as normal cheesecakes.

I also made two other pies for Christmas - the Pecan Tart from the Pie and Pastry Bible and a cherry pie from Cooking Light. My MIL requested I bring the pecan tart for Christmas dinner, and my brother loves cherry pie so I had to make that one as well. I realized part way through making the pecan tart that I was actually using the wrong pie dough for it, but that ended up being a good thing because I had better luck with the Basic Flaky dough than the Cream Cheese dough which I also tried making. I really like Alton Brown's method of cutting the edges of the ziplock bag and using the bag to roll out the dough. It worked well for the basic dough, but that's where I ran into problems with the cream cheese dough.

I had better luck with the par baked tart shell this time than I did for Thanksgiving. I turned the oven temperature down 25 degrees. I decided to do two layers of pecans this time because it just seemed a little shallow last time I made it.

I had some leftover whipped cream from the coconut cake last week that I rewhipped and then piped onto the pecan tart and my mom's pumpkin pie. I think this has now become on of my favorite pies. Daniel seems to love it as well. I really like the chocolate lace topping on it.

I had originally planned to make the cherry pie from the pie and pastry bible, but my cream cheese pie dough just completely fell apart when I rolled it out so I went with my backup plan. I made the recipe from Cooking Light which I had made before. It calls for store bought crust but still uses fresh cherries. While pitting the cherries this year I decided that my little brother needs to come help with that part next year. Since I used the store bought crust I decided to focus more on my lattice work. I think it turned out much nicer than normal. It's amazing what a ruler can do for you.

Some of the cherry filling bubbled out a little over the lattice so it wasn't quite as pretty when it came out of the oven, but it still tasted great.

Several people in my family have commented that they were never huge fans of cherry pie until I started making them. I've made this recipe 3 or 4 times now, and it always turns out wonderful.


  1. i love your matching red velvet ribbon! i like to pour the water into the pan while the pan is on the oven rack, so all you have to do is gently slide the whole contraption into the oven. great looking pies, too.

  2. Beautiful cheesecake and gorgeous pies! You have been baking a lot Andrea!

    I also pour the water like ECL, it's easier and less risk that you spill the water.

  3. had a baking frenzy..baking all 3 items at a go? All 3 desserts looks wonderful and delicious! I have to try making pie again, been a long time since i made..

  4. @ECL, thanks! I bought that ribbon for wrapping Christmas presents last year but never could figure out how to make a bow with it.

    @ECL and Jenn, I thought about pouring the water in the pan while it was in the oven, but my tea kettle has a pretty wide spout so I was afraid of getting water in the cheesecake.

    @Jenn, yes I have been baking a lot. The only problem is I have lots of leftovers still. I think I'm ready to be done with cheesecake.

    @Faithy, it was a lot to do in one day. I didn't quite finish everything on Christmas Eve so I had to finish up Christmas morning before my husband woke up. Baking pies from scratch is still pretty new to me so I'm still figuring out what works for me.

  5. Everything you made looks wonderful. The cheesecake looks very nice. Love the color contrasts and the ribbon.

    I'm with ECL and Jenn on pouring water in while the pan is in the oven. You could always use a piece of cardboard or the bottom of a tart pan as a "splash guard". Safer than moving hot water across the kitchen :o)

  6. These are amazing. Where did you get the recipe for the cheesecake?