Cranberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Bites
Um, hi. Remember me? Anyone still out there? *taps glass*
I know it’s been a while, but I hope you’ll forgive my extended absence because these Cranberry White Chocolate Cheesecake bites are sooooooo good. Seriously. Cheesecake is not my most favorite dessert, and also white chocolate and I are not on speaking terms. I think it tastes kind of toothpaste-y. Don’t even get me started on how it’s not actually chocolate, despite its name.
Then I discovered that when you combine white chocolate and cheesecake some sort of undeniable magic happens – they both get instantly better. A LOT better.
Like, please-take-these-away-I-can’t-stop-eating-them better.
Aside from how scrumptious these little bites are, I also happen to like how easy they were to make. Mini cheesecake pans make pretty mini cheesecakes but having to divide everything into umpteen separate tiny cups is kind of a pain, right? You don’t have to do that with this cheesecake! It bakes in an 8×8 pan. Serve it whole, cut it in half and split it with your spouse, or cut it into 36 bite-sized pieces: the choice is yours.
Cheesecakes are normally paired with cherry or strawberry, but cranberries are seasonal right now and I’m not gonna hide it – I can’t get enough of them. So I topped my cheesecake with cranberry jelly. If you think cranberry jelly sounds complicated, it’s not. It’s pretty much just strained cranberry sauce. It also happens to taste fairly similar to raspberry jelly, so even my cranberry-hating husband liked it!
Oh, and did I mention this cheesecake is ideal for stress-free holiday entertaining because you can make it ahead of time? Make it two days ahead and keep it in the fridge (if you think you can avoid eating it), or pop it in the freezer for longer and defrost at room temperature the day you plan to eat it.
I hope this recipe makes your holidays a little more merry and bright!
Cranberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Bites
There’s no canning required here! My instructions cover making refrigerator cranberry jelly (for storing in the fridge). The bright red jelly will start to bleed into the cheesecake after a few days in the fridge. I recommend adding the jelly topping the day you plan to serve the cheesecake, or freezing it after adding the jelly and thawing the day of serving. You won’t need all of the jelly, but don’t be afraid to slather it on generously. I wished I had used a bit more.
The outside edges rose a bit while baking, so for even square bites I trimmed the edges off (and ate them – yum!) Tip: For the cleanest cuts, rinse a sharp knife under warm water & dry between each cut. Tedious? Yes. But it works! Also, try to cut straight down and avoid any sawing motion.
Cranberry Jelly Ingredients
1 pound whole cranberries, washed
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup apple cider
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces 65-70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3.5 ounces (about 1 cup) chocolate graham crackers crumbs
8 ounces white chocolate, broken into pieces
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
little pinch of salt
2 ounces white chocolate, broken into pieces (for drizzling)
1/8 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)
Make-ahead Cranberry Jelly: Combine cranberries, sugar and apple cider in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until cranberries burst and start to break down. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Pour through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the skins as needed to filter the jelly. Store in refrigerator overnight or until set.
To make cheesecake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with a double layer of foil, taking care to leave some overhang on the edges to lift the cheesecake out later. Butter or spray with non-stick spray.
Add butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan over low heat. Heat, stirring frequently, just until melted and combined. Remove from heat. Stir in graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly coated. Press mixture firmly into the bottom of prepared pan. Chill crust in freezer until ready to bake.
While the crust chills, make the cheesecake. Heat 8 ounces of white chocolate in the microwave in a small, microwave safe bowl for 1 minutes on 50% power. Stir, and continue microwaving for 30 second intervals, stirring thoroughly between each, until completely melted. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add eggs and sugar, and beat until combined. With the mixer on low, add melted white chocolate, vanilla and salt. Spread cheesecake mixture (may be thick) over chilled crust. Smooth top with a spatula. Tap pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
Bake at 325°F for 40-45 minutes, or until edges are set and barely browed while center still jiggles some. Cool completely on a wire wrack. Chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, and up to 2 days.
Place about half of the cranberry jelly in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 20-30 seconds, then stir briskly until jelly is loose and pourable. Spread evenly over cooled cheesecake. Return to fridge and chill for at least 1 hour. (Ideally you will do this step the day of serving to prevent any color bleed into the cheesecake.)
Using the foil overhang, carefully lift cheesecake from pan. Melt remaining 2 ounces of white chocolate in the microwave. (Stir in coconut oil to thin for easier drizzling.) Pour melted white chocolate into plastic sandwich bag, snip off a tiny piece of the corner, and drizzle over cheesecake.
Serve cheesecake whole, or cut into bars or bite-sized pieces. Leftovers (as if!) can be stored in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container.