With many of my close friends and relatives being either lactose intolerant or vegan, it’s always an exciting challenge to find ways to turn classic, milk-based recipes into something everyone can enjoy. Topping the list of requests is the infamous cheesecake, whose name proudly declares its thoroughly dairy-ed nature. But, thanks to modern food science, even the mighty cheesecake can be made dairy free (and in many cases, completely vegan)! So this year, I thought I’d try an exciting adaptation of the classic cheesecake that I found at The Craving Chronicles which features a perfectly seasonal cranberry jelly!
Cranberry Cheesecake Bites
Ingredients for Jelly
- 1 pound of fresh, whole cranberries
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
Ingredients for Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 1/2 cups ground graham crackers
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Ingredients for Cheesecake
- 16 ounces of cream cheese (Tofutti’s “Better than Cream Cheese” is a wonderfully dairy-free option)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- For the jelly: Combine the cranberries, sugar, and apple cider in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. When the cranberries start to crack and break down, remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Pour through a fine strainer and squeeze out as much liquid from the berries as possible. Store in the refrigerator overnight or until set.
- For the crust: Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with a double-layer of aluminum foil (leave a sizeable overhang to make removing the cheesecake easier) and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a medium bowl until well blended. Press the mixture into the lined 8 x 8 baking pan, and place in the freezer until needed.
- Preheat your oven to 325 F / 160 C.
- Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese for 1 – 2 minutes, or until light and creamy. Add eggs and sugar and mix until combined. Slowly mix in the vanilla and salt.
- Pour the cheesecake mixture into your chilled crust, and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until the edges are set and brown (the center will still jiggle some). Refrigerate finished cheesecake for 4 hours or up to 2 days.
- About one hour before serving, heat the cranberry jelly for 20 – 30 seconds in the microwave and stir to make pourable. Spread evenly over the chilled cheesecake and return to the refrigerator for one hour.
- To serve, lift the cheesecake out of the pan by the foil, cut into bite-sized bars (or serve whole), and enjoy!