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Maple cheesecake with cranberry topping

I don’t listen. I just don’t. If I want to do something, and I’m advised otherwise, I do it anyways. In my mind, I just have to see for myself. When I’m pondering something, I inquire with my people. A typical conversation will go like this..

Me: Hey, so do you think I should do (x)?

Friend: No, it’s not a good idea. I’m 100% sure it’s not a good idea.

Me: Hmmm…

Friend: I hear you contemplating. Like always, you’re going to do it anyways. Why are you asking me?

Me: I love you. Thanks for the input.

Friend: *Sigh* I love you, too. Even though you’re a little crazy.

Stubbornness at its finest. I just love to dive into things. I mean, why not? What’s the worst that’s gonna happen? I just have to know. So when everyone in the world told me that raw cranberries are inedible, of course I didn’t listen. And when I ate one after the other thinking that maybe the next one would be better, I realized that raw, they taste like concentrated pieces of paper.

But when you cook them down with maple syrup to make a compote, they are simply luxurious. They turn sweet, are hearty with texture and true cranberry flavor, and evolve into pure decadence when placed on top of a maple syrup flavored cheesecake (??!!?!). Yes. I love cheesecake, and this one is not toooooo heavy. It’s rather light in texture, heavy with maple flavor (which is always a good thing), and the slightly sour and chewy note you get from the cranberries is perfect to top it right off.

It’s very rich, and a small slice should be enough so this cake will serve a lot of people. It’s perfect to bring to a dinner party or work event. If you serve yourself a lot, know it’s so good that you will probably eat it all. Even if someone tells you otherwise.

Maple cheesecake with cranberry topping

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 12 (but could easily serve 16-20 with smaller pieces)

Notes: Aunt Jemima is not maple syrup. It’s “pancake syrup” (?) and does not pale in comparison to what real maple syrup is. If you haven’t tried real maple syrup, run to the supermarket.

When you reduce the maple syrup, make sure you keep an eye on it, as it can boil over. It’s best to do it over low heat, stirring very often.

For reduced maple syrup

1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup (preferably grade A dark amber)

For crust

2 cups ground graham crackers (about 17 whole crackers ground in processor)

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon (scant) ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For cheesecake filling

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup (120g) maple sugar or (packed) golden brown sugar (I used brown sugar)

3 tablespoons (28g) all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup reduced maple syrup (see above)

2/3 cup (160g) sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large eggs

For maple cranberry topping

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (about 8 ounces), rinsed

1 cup pure maple syrup (preferably grade A dark amber)

2/3 cup (80g) sweetened dried cranberries

1/2 cup (120g) maple sugar or (packed) golden brown sugar

Make cranberry topping

Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until berries pop, about 4 minutes. Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.

Make reduced maple syrup

Boil maple syrup in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1 cup, stirring occasionally and watching closely to avoid boiling over (syrup will bubble up to top of pan), about 5 minutes. Remove reduced maple syrup from heat and let cool to slightly warm or room temperature.

Make crust

Position rack in center of oven and set to 375 degrees F. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Bake crust until set and top edge of crust darkens slightly, about 10 minutes. Cool crust completely on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Make cheesecake filling

Beat cream cheese in large bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with paddle attachment until very smooth. Add maple sugar, flour, and salt; beat until well blended and smooth. Add 1 cup reduced maple syrup, sour cream, and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add eggs, 2 at a time, and beat just until blended after each addition. Tap bowl several times on counter to release any air bubbles. Pour filling into cooled crust. Using tip of small knife, pop any air bubbles on surface.

Bake cake until slightly puffed around edges (center will still look moist and will move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool completely. Cover and chill overnight. Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Assemble cheesecake

Spread the cranberry topping on top of the cheesecake, or serve alongside. Cut cheesecake into wedges. Divide among plates.

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