This week I tried really hard to keep all of our Cook the Book recipes as New Year's resolution friendly as possible, and The Sunset Cookbook made that job pretty easy. The book's filled with wonderfully fresh salads and simply prepared lean meats. But one look at this recipe for Caramelized Orange Cheesecake and I knew that diet-breaking or not, it had to be included in our Sunset coverage.
Since the end of holiday cookie season, I'd been on a self-imposed baking hiatus, but after just a week or two of no sweets it was time to ease back into it.
Super creamy with a great graham crust, lightly orangey filling, and an almost stained glass-like caramelized orange topping, this cheesecake was almost as good to look at as it was to eat. Even without baking it in a water bath, the filling baked evenly without those unsightly surface cracks. And if you are still sticking to that New Year's resolution, this cake can be enjoyed in tiny slivers as well as chunky wedges.
Adapted from The Sunset Cookbook. Copyright © 2010. Published by Oxmoor House. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
- For the topping:
- 1 large firm thin-skinned orange, such as Valencia
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- For the cheesecake:
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 17 squares)
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Make topping: With a sharp knife, slice orange into thin rounds (between 1/8 and 1/16 in. thick), discarding ends and seeds. In a deep 10-inch frying pan or pot over medium-high heat, stir sugar, 3/4 cup water, and lemon juice until sugar is dissolved. Add orange slices and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer and turning occasionally, until they’re slightly candied and translucent and liquid has consistency of a thin syrup, about 20 minutes (there should be about 1/2 cup liquid in pan; if less, add enough hot water to make that amount and shake pan to mix water into syrup). Let cool in pan. Cover and chill at least 15 minutes.
Make cheesecake: Preheat oven to 300°F. Pour cracker crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan (with side at least 2 1/4 inch high); add butter and mix. Press mixture evenly over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan.
In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour, sour cream, and liqueur just until incorporated. Pour into crust-lined pan.
Bake until center barely jiggles when cake is gently shaken, 60 to 70 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife between cheesecake and pan rim. Cool completely at room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and chill until cold, at least 3 hours.
Remove pan rim. If any moisture has collected on top of cake, gently blot dry with a paper towel. Gently lift candied orange slices from syrup, reserving syrup, and blot dry. Arrange slices, slightly overlapping, over top of cheesecake.
Bring reserved syrup to a boil over high heat. Stir occasionally until syrup is deep golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in orange juice (mixture will bubble up). Let cool to room temperature and generously brush over orange slices (you may have extra syrup).
Cut cake slices with a serrated knife, running knife under hot water and wiping clean after each slice.