Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

20170227_000907Cheesecake is a delightful dessert rich in flavor and smooth on the palate. As much as I enjoy a slice of cheesecake I absolutely despise making it on my own. Cheesecake is up there on my list with Creme Brulee & Souffles when it comes to a severe inclination to avoid said recipes. It is not that I can’t make them it is just more tedious and I don’t enjoy making them like I do cakes and cookies. Baking is an outlet for me to reduce stress. Cheesecakes tend to create stress by wondering if the darn thing is going to crack despite doing everything correctly. There is only so many times you can get scalded by the hot water bath before you throw even cooking out the window. However, after taking a look at what I have prepared lately I was starting to see too much repetition. I decided I needed to venture out of my comfort zone and give myself a challenge like I had when in culinary school. The first item that came to my mind was the dreaded cheesecake.

20170227_001556My favorite flavor of cheesecake is cherry and I have made it a thousand times. My love of cherry cheesecake in particular stems from my childhood when I would make the No-Bake Jello brand Cherry Cheesecake box mix. Although it was a heck of a lot easier cheesecake to make, it wasn’t necessarily a real cheesecake (probably why I enjoyed baking it growing up). Besides the taste the cherries lend cheesecake, I also love the appearance. The red is a great contrast to the light cheesecake base and makes for a stunning dessert every time. I wanted to replicate this stunning look but with something other than cherries. That is where cranberries come into play.

20170226_172628I had some leftover cranberries frozen at their peak and needed to use them up so it seemed like a perfect fit. I made this for Valentine’s Day but it can be made for many other events such as anniversaries, Christmas, Independence Day, or even Go Red for Women parties which bring awareness to heart health. Although this is a skinnier recipe than traditional cheesecakes, I highly doubt the American Heart Association would define it as a heart healthy recipe. On average, cheesecakes similar to this one run about 575 calories and 22 grams of saturated fat while this cheesecake is 321 calories and 6 grams saturated fat (saving over 250 calories and 15 grams saturated fat per slice).

Although I enjoyed this lightened up version of a traditional cheesecake I would make a few changes next time to appeal more to my own taste. I think I would prefer a regular graham cracker crust to the chocolate, despite my love of the stunning color contrasts the chocolate crust provides. If you follow the recipe as is you will witness how much a simple swirl of tart cranberries provides an elegant touch to rich filling encased in a chocolate graham crust. Enjoy!

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. Chocolate Graham Crackers
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ cups Fresh or Frozen Cranberries (thaw if frozen)
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • ¼ cup Raspberry Liqueur (Chambord or Smirnoff Raspberry Vodka)
  • 3 tbsp. Water
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 12 oz.(2 ½ pkg.) Block Style 1/3-less-fat Cream Cheese; softened
  • 1 cup Plain Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 2 large Egg Whites

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Wrap outside and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan tightly with a double layer of heavy-duty foil (or place in a turkey size oven bag and seal at top). Grease pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place crackers in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Drizzle with oil and pulse until moistened. Press mixture into bottom and ½ inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325°. Place cranberries, sugar, liqueur, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook 8 minutes or until cranberries have softened and mixture is syrupy. Cool for 20 minutes. Puree mixture until smooth with an immersion blender or pour contents into a food processor and pulse 1 minute.
  4. Combine 1 cup sugar and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Beat with stand or hand mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in yogurt, vanilla, and salt. Add the whole eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the 2 egg whites at high-speed until soft peaks form. 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 into a metal baking pan larger than the springform pan. Add hot water to the pan to create a depth of about 2 inches. Bake for 55 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake barely jiggles when pan is touched.
  6. Turn off oven. Cool cheesecake in closed oven for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven and run knife around the outside edge. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: ANN TAYLOR PITTMAN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

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Skinny Cranberry Cupcakes

2Fall is traditionally marked with recipes that incorporate the seasons abundant squash and apple harvests. There is, however, another harvest that takes place this time of year that often gets overlooked by the masses…the cranberry. In fact, unlike apple and squash harvests, the cranberry has a very short harvesting season, which happens to fall conveniently right around the holidays. A fantastic way to incorporate the season’s underdog without doing too much damage to a healthy lifestyle is through a cupcake. A cupcake is small enough to keep fat, calories, and sugar in check and simple enough to allow the cranberries to star in their own show.

1Do not let their appearance fool you, as these skinny cupcakes are bursting with flavor. Every bite is laced with cranberries that provide a tangy burst of flavor and present touches of crimson, setting the tone of the season for any holiday table. Taking a hint from traditional upside-down cakes, I added a layer of butterscotch to the bottom of these cupcakes to tone down the cranberries. The great thing about them though is there is no need to flip the cupcakes after they are finished baking. Having the crispy butterscotch layer on the bottom adds a unique texture, as if there is a crust for the moist cake layer above it. With each bite the tartness of the cranberries hits the palette, followed by the crisp butterscotch layer. The butterscotch layer quickly candies the tart flavor to keep it from becoming overwhelming.

5I love these cupcakes for how quick, easy, and presentable they are to both the eyes and taste buds. This recipe will produce 12 cupcakes, however you can easily double the recipe to make more. As always, keep in mind that a skinny recipe is not necessarily a “good for you” recipe, but it is lighter than its counterparts. A traditional cranberry cupcake will typically have over 400 calories, almost 20 grams of fat, 400 mg of sodium, and over 30 grams of sugar. This recipe cuts calories and fat in half and sodium is over 3 times less. They are still high in sugars because after all they are a sweet, but I always make sure to use organic, natural sugars that are not refined (such as Wholesome’s Brand) to make a healthier product. If you are following Weight Watchers, one cupcake is equal to 6 Points or 7 Points Plus.

4Skinny Cranberry Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  •  Cooking Spray
  • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar; packed (preferably Organic)
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 6 oz. Fresh or Frozen Cranberries (thawed if frozen)
  • 6.75 oz. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (approximately 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar (preferably natural cane but you can sub granulated)
  • ½ cup Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 2 Large Eggs; yolks & whites separated
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup 1% Low-Fat Milk

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 12-cup Muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar and 2 tbsp. butter. Cook mixture until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves (approximately 2 minutes), stirring occasionally. Distribute the sugar mixture equally among the muffin tin’s 12 cups. Coat the bottom of each cup evenly. Arrange cranberries evenly over the sugar mixture (approximately 5 cranberries for each muffin cup).
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk until uniformly mixed. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and softened butter. Beat with the mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Fold the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, alternating with the milk (be sure to begin and end with the flour mixture).
  4. Clean the bowl and beaters of the stand mixer, making sure it is free of any food particles and completely dry. Beat the egg whites with the mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the resulting meringue (egg whites) into the prepared batter. Distribute the batter evenly amongst the 12 cups, spreading evenly over the cranberries. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a wire rack  for 15 minutes. Loosen the cupcakes from the sides of the pan with a narrow knife and remove. Serve immediately or move to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Cupcake)

cranberrycupcakelabel

Weight Watchers: 6 Points or 7 Points Plus

 

PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2015

Cranberry Coconut Bars

dsc_0081Happy New Year everyone!!! Hope you all had a safe and fun time ringing in 2013. I myself had a rather mellow New Years, which to many would probably be considered boring but considering I am almost due to give birth any day now I certainly can’t be doing any drinking not to mention anything in the party nature. So instead I stuck to my foodie roots and baked the day away, then made some fish for dinner, and closed off the evening with fireworks and a stroll around my calm, slightly brisk Florida neighborhood with the boyfriend. Since many of you out there have already or are currently conjuring up New Year’s resolutions, today’s post is just in time for those deciding to give up guilty pleasures of the sweet variety in order to keep fitness and weight loss resolutions. Sure, it is already the new year but one last splurge won’t hurt right 😉

dsc_0071Now most of you may have a hangover or are extremely tired and lacking any sort of an extensive attention span like myself so I will make sure to keep the notes on this formula brief. To promote optimum texture in these bars, be sure to keep the butter cold by leaving it in the refrigerator until you are just ready to use it. This allows the butter to hold it’s shape while being cut into the flour by the food processor. By using a whipping food processor blade and the cold temperature, the butter is quickly chopped into small bits without overheating and melting, which would result in a less desirable texture for the finished bar crust. These bars can keep in an airtight container at room temperature for approximately three days.

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Cranberry Coconut Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 5 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, cut into 5 pieces, kept chilled
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • ¾ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp. Almond Extract
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ cup Walnuts, toasted & chopped
  • 1 cup Dried Cranberries
  • ¾ cup Shredded Coconut, sweetened

Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 375°. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil. Allow excess foil to hang over the edges for easy removal later. Grease foil with nonstick cooking spray. Process 1 cup flour and 2 tbsp. sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and pulse until only pea-size bits remain. Press the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until crust is light golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. While crust cools, whisk the egg, syrup, extracts, salt, remaining flour, and remaining sugar in a large bowl. Fold in the walnuts, cranberries, and coconut. Spread the mixture evenly over the cooled crust. Bake until the topping is golden brown and begins to separate from the sides of the pan, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely. Once cool, use the foil overhang to lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into squares and serve.

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SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM MIKE HENDRICKS

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2013