Mascarpone Cheesecake with Sugared Cranberries

People often think that my baking always comes out perfect. It’s definitely not true. However, I’m really good at improvising, and a little bit of creativity can fix most mistakes.

I love mascarpone cheesecakes and realized I hadn’t made one since 8 years ago here – I didn’t even photograph my recipes back then! 

For today’s Mascarpone Cheesecake, I used the same cheesecake base as 8 years ago from Giada on Food Network. To make it festive for the holidays, I planned to originally glaze it with chocolate drizzle and used a chocolate graham cracker crust.

Unfortunately, in my haste I didn’t do a water bath and messed up the cheesecake presentation. The top completely cracked and sank an inch, making an ugly crater. I wasn’t excited about serving it to guests coming over for dinner. With the cracked top, I could no longer add a glaze.

I almost wasn’t going to use the cheesecake on the blog since it didn’t look good, but I wanted to salvage it because work was so busy (alas, I don’t have much free time outside of the hospital to bake over and over to waiting for the perfect cheesecake) and the cheesecake was still very tasty.

I had extra cranberries from Thanksgiving, and I sugared them (adapted from Vanilla and Bean), making them all pretty so I could cover up the cracked top.

You can sugar any fruit, although I’ve only done it with cranberries. Interestingly, candied and sugared fruit has existed since the Middle Ages. By replacing the fruit’s natural water content with a highly concentrated sugar syrup, the fruit could be preserved for much longer.

To fully be preserved, the fruit would be boiled in syrup and set aside multiple times (up to 15 times!) until the syrup replaced all the water. A final step coated the fruit with a thin glaze of sugar (source). I only did it once, since luckily we have refrigerators nowadays.

Once I covered the top of the cheesecake and borrowed some small pinecones to garnish, it was now ready to serve. Even though the food itself isn’t any different, I’m always a fan of elevating a meal with good presentation!

Mascarpone Cheesecake with Sugared Cranberries

1 cup (about 10) chocolate graham crackers
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 (8-ounce) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine crackers, butter, and sugar. Press onto 6 inch springform pan (you may have extra crust leftover). Bake until firm, about 10 minutes and let cool.

Decrease oven temp to 325F

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until just blended.

Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Bake for 30 min, until the center of the cheesecake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken. Let cool then refrigerate until chilled.

(Note: my cheesecake browned at the edges – I didn’t use a water bath, but that would probably help. I would also try a lower temp of 300F next time)

In a small pot, boil water and 1/2 cup of sugar until sugar is dissolved. Set to low and stir in the cranberries so they are coated evenly with the sugar syrup. Strain the cranberries and allow to dry out.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar on a plate, rolling the cranberries (which will be sticky) in the sugar to coat. Top cheesecake with cranberries and serve.

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  1. This looks great! Really like the idea of adding mascarpone to the cheesecake – do you find it alters the texture at all? Also, great job with the cranberry camouflage on top, never would have guessed what's underneath