Every year I find myself buying fresh cranberries and making some sort of cranberry relish though, I must know by now, beyond a curious taste or two no one is going to eat it. It’s not that they don’t like it really. It’s just that everyone seems to know what they do like for Thanksgiving and that’s what they concentrate on eating.
When it comes to cranberries what my family craves is jellied cranberry sauce from a can. They like it in the shape of the can, with the little can marks on the side. It goes in a certain old glass dish that has been in my family as long as I can remember and is served with a pierced silver tomato server that goes with my mother’s set of silver flatware, the one she bought when she went to work, before she got married. That’s just the way it is around here.
Personally, while that was the way cranberries were served as I was growing up I never liked them that way. I scarcely ever even tasted the jellied sauce we had each Thanksgiving though I did think it was pretty and admired the dish and the serving spoon.
So now I buy fresh cranberries and enjoy the discovery of taste combinations and textures each year knowing that even I will make other choices from the bounty of our table when it gets right down to enjoying the Thanksgiving meal. Along the way I have grown to love the fresh tartness of cranberries and have come to believe that a cranberry is a terrible thing to waste. That’s why, this year, I tried to think of a new way to actually use that fresh cranberry sauce.
What I came up with was an appetizer to serve while family and guests are waiting for the Thanksgiving feast to be served, or in the weeks before or after Thanksgiving when the flavors of the season are most welcome. This is not a new flavor combination by any means but it is a variation on the cranberry cream cheese combinations my attention has been drawn to this year. This recipe is for a small, crustless, slightly sweet cheesecake made with traditional cream cheese and non-fat Greek Yogurt. The batter is marbled with the cranberry relish of your choice. I used the Bourbon Vanilla Cranberry Relish I discovered last year, but you could use Cathy’s Cranberry Tangerine Chutney or another cranberry relish from your own list of favorites. To that I added an optional scattering of toasted pecans.
Once the cheesecake spread has cooked and cooled it is topped with the remaining cranberry relish and more nuts if desired. Then garnish and serve with gingersnaps, vanilla wafers, sugar cookies or crackers for a pretty holiday appetizer or light dessert.
Cranberry Cheesecake Spread
1 Tablespoon butter
3 Tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
8 oz package cream cheese
5 oz container non-fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Bourbon Vanilla Cranberry Relish ( or other Cranberry Relish of your choice)
½ cup pecan pieces, toasted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Use 1 Tablespoon butter to generously grease the bottom and sides of a 6-inch spring form pan. Add the graham cracker crumbs, tilting and tapping until the crumbs thoroughly cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the yogurt and egg, beating until well combined. Add the brown sugar and vanilla. Continue mixing until smooth.
Pour filling mixture into the prepared pan.
Randomly drop 1/3 cup of the cranberry sauce on top of the cheesecake batter with a tablespoon. Tap the pan on the counter top to settle the batter. Insert a butter knife straight down into the batter, not quite touching the bottom of the pan, and drag it back and forth at 1 to 2 inch intervals, front to back then side to side. Repeat as necessary to achieve a marbled effect in the batter.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until done.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Loosely cover and refrigerate until completely cooled, several hours or overnight.
Remove sides of spring form pan. Settle cheesecake onto a serving plate.
Before serving top with remaining cranberry relish and pecans.
Serve with ginger snaps, vanilla wafers, shortbread cookies or crackers.