Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Cover recipe- Cooking Light, Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake: December 2010

I recently got married and one of the things on our registry was a springform pan. I’ve never made my own cheesecake, but I’ve always loved how rich and creamy it is and figured having my own pan would be a great way to make a healthier version of one of my favorite desserts. But after almost one year of marriage, I had yet to pop open the pan. That is, until the latest issue of Cooking Light landed in my mailbox.

Cheesecake is typically high in fat and calories and bursting with flavor. I’ve tried a few healthier versions of cheesecake in the past, but I’ve been disappointed with the taste. So when the cover line from this issue read, “Our richest cheesecake,” I knew I had to try it and see if this Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake not only tasted like a full-fat version, but was also worthy of the coveted cover spot.

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Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 45 min + chill time and cooling time

Cook Time: 1 hour 30 min

Ingredients:

4 ounces chocolate graham crackers
3 tablespoons canola oil
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
3 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar
2 (8-ounce) packages block-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Wrap outside and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan tightly with a double layer of heavy-duty foil.

3. Place crackers in a food processor; process until finely ground. Drizzle with oil; pulse until combined. Press mixture into bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 8 minutes; cool on a rack.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

5. Place cranberries, sugar, liqueur, and water in a saucepan; boil. Cook 8 minutes or until cranberries pop and mixture is syrupy. Cool 20 minutes. Place mixture in a food processor; process 1 minute or until smooth.

6. Combine 1 cup sugar and cheeses in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in yogurt, vanilla, and salt. Add whole eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

7. Place 2 egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form using clean, dry beaters. Fold beaten egg whites into cream cheese mixture. Pour filling over crust. Spoon cranberry mixture over filling; swirl together using the tip of a knife. Place springform pan in a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan. Add hot water to pan to a depth of 2 inches. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until center of cheesecake barely moves when pan is touched.

8. Turn oven off. Cool cheesecake in closed oven 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven. Run a knife around outside edge. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours. Serves 12.

Tips:

*The recipe called for only 4 ounces of chocolate graham crackers, but if I made this again I would bump it up to 4.5 or at least 5 ounces. The crust got pretty thin in a couple places while I spread it out.
*The cranberry mixture was absolutely delicious and I would consider doubling the amount called for so I could use it for something else (ice cream, on toast, or even alone by the spoonful).
*I would have liked a little more clarification in Step 7: “Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until center of cheesecake barely moves when pan is touched.” At 50 minutes, the cheesecake seemed almost as jiggly as when I put it in; it was far from “barely” moving. I cooked it for an additional 30 minutes and didn’t notice a change in movement, but the top was getting more and more brown, so I stopped the total time at 80 minutes and continued with the directions.

Nutritional Information per serving:
Serving size: 1 wedge
Calories per serving: 321
Fat per serving: 14.1g
Saturated Fat per serving: 6.1g
Sodium per serving: ,span class="sodium">333g
Fiber per serving: .9g
Protein per serving: 10g
Cholesterol per serving: 81mg
Carbohydrates per serving: 37.8g

SourceCooking Light, December 2010

The results:

I served this to some of my girlfriends who all gave it rave reviews and even asked to take some home to their husbands. But the best part was how it tasted. I love that I could eat a slice and not feel too guilty about what I was consuming. The flavors mingled so well together that nobody would be able to guess this was a lightened up cheesecake.

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

Oh my, yes! I’ve made several recipes from Cooking Light and applaud them every time for how simple their recipes are, and this was no exception. I thought a cheesecake would be difficult to make, but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this came together. Not to mention, the beautiful red swirl compliments the chocolate crust and white from the cheesecake—this dessert was made for a holiday get-together.

Jessica Lynn is a New Mexico native transplanted in Georgia thanks to her husband serving in the United States Air Force. She blogs about food, along with her sister-in-law, at The Tale of Two Kitchens (http://thetaleoftwokitchens.blogspot.com) and newlywed life at Jesstagirl and Her Officer (http://jessicalynnwrites.blogspot.com).

8 Responses to “Two- Cheese Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. 1

    Renee @ Awesome on $20 — September 2, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

    Yeah, when you said ‘healthy mac & cheese” I was like, there’s no such thing. I’m glad to see that you liked it. I’ll have to give it a try.

  2. 2

    Tieghan — September 2, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

    Oh wow, this looks amazing!! I have never used chicken broth in mac and cheese, but I trust you, so I think I need to make this! Thank you for sharing!

  3. 3

    Anna@CrunchyCreamySweet — September 3, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

    I will have to try this lighter version of mac and cheese as my kids are huge fans! Great review, Lori!

  4. 4

    bridget {bake at 350} — September 3, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

    Lori…this looks so good! Cream cheese?!? Hello! Love your notes! I always love a little red pepper, too!

  5. 5

    Becky — September 4, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

    Interesting. Since you do not salt the pasta is it salty enough? I’m a big proponent of cooking my pasta in heavily salted water since it flavors the entire outcome of a pasta dish, but I’m guessing the chicken broth stands in for the salted water. So if you make this a 3 serving meal it becomes 716 calories per serving – yikes! I always like to add some dry mustard to my mac n cheese. Especially since this recipe is careful not to use too much cheese, some mustard or red pepper flakes would probably add great flavor!

    • Lori Lange replied: — September 4th, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

      I personally didn’t think so, but I also like to add a good sprinkle of salt to pretty much everything when it is served!

  6. 6

    Jamie — September 9, 2013 @ 11:27 am

    I made this as a side dish and my family loved it, my son and I ate it for a couple days afterwards. When I asked my husband how he liked it his response was “very good, but it can’t be healthy” and I told him it was a lightened up version of mac & cheese, he was surprised. It was very good and I will make this again. Next time I’ll add the red pepper flakes as Lori suggested and maybe some spinach to give it some more nutrients. I also used more garlic than the recipe called for and we thought the garlic was a huge bump to making this so good.

    • Lori Lange replied: — September 10th, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

      Adding spinach sounds like a wonderful idea! Glad you all enjoyed…

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