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Jeweled Cheesecake Recipe

2 1/4 C. gingersnap cookie crumbs

1/4 C. plus 2 T. butter or margarine, melted

2/3 C. whipping cream

1 lb. white chocolate, finely chopped

4 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened

1 C. sugar

6 large eggs

1 t. vanilla extract

Candied Cranberries, optional, (recipe follows)

Pistachio Crunch, optional, (recipe follows)

Combine gingersnap crumbs and melted butter; stir well. Press crumb mixture into bottom and 1-inch up sides of a (10-inch) springform pan. Bake at 350 F. for 10 minutes. Let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.

Bring whipping cream to a simmer in a saucepan. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate in a large bowl. Stir mixture with a rubber spatula until smooth. Let cool.

Beat cream cheese at high speed in an electric mixer until creamy. Add sugar; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Fold in chocolate mixture. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill at least 8 hours. Remove sides of pan. If desired, decorate cheesecake with Candied Cranberries and Pistachio Crunch.

Makes 1 (10-inch) cheesecake.

CANDIED CRANBERRIES

2 1/2 C. sugar

1 C. hot water

3/4 C. cranberry-apple juice drink

3 1/2 C. fresh cranberries

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small nonaluminum saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and pour syrup mixture over cranberries in a medium-size heat-proof bowl. Place bowl on a steamer rack in a large Dutch oven over simmering water. Cover and steam 30 minutes. Remove bowl of cranberries. Let cool completely without stirring.

Cover bowl with cheesecloth; let stand at room temperature for 3 days, stirring occasionally. (Mixture will become thick.)

Transfer cranberries, using a slotted spoon, to a large mesh wire rack placed over a wax paper-lined jellyroll pan. Store cranberry syrup in a glass container in refrigerator for another use. Let fruit dry, uncovered, for 2 to 3 days, turning occasionally. Reserve 1/4 cup Candied Cranberries for use in Pistachio Crunch.
 
Makes 2 1/2 cups Candied Cranberries and 2 cups syrup.

Note: Candied Cranberries can be prepared and refrigerated up to 2 weeks ahead.

PISTACHIO CRUNCH

12 ozs. vanilla-flavored candy coating

1/3 C. chopped, toasted pistachio nuts

1/4 C. Candied Cranberries, chopped

Melt candy coating in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Stir in nuts and cranberries. Spread mixture in a thick layer (about 1/4-inch) on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Let cool completely. Break into pieces or use Christmas tree cookie cutters to cut desired shapes.

Makes 1 pound.

-- "Christmas with Southern Living 1995,"

     

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