Cranberry Cheesecake

Cranberry Sauce
12 ounces (300 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries (about 3 cups)
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
4 tbsp orange zest
Crust
1 1/2 cups (170 grams) graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full sheets)
5 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Cheesecake Filling
1 (7 grams) packet unflavored gelatin
4 tbsp water, divided
3 (8-ounces) blocks of cream cheese, softened to room temperature. (680 grams)
1 (14-ounces) can sweetened condensed milk (I prefer Eagle brand) (396 grams)
1/4 cup lemon juice
Whipped Cream (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream or heavy whipping cream (120 ml)
2 tbsp granulated sugar (25 grams)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract optional
Sugared Cranberries (optional)
1 1/2 cups sugar divided
6 ounces fresh cranberries
1/2 cup water

To Make Cranberry Sauce
Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse them well. Pick out and discard any damaged cranberries.
Place the cranberries, sugar, orange juice and zest in a small saucepan over medium- high heat. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer stirring occasionally for about 12 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst and the mixture has thickened to the consistency of cranberry sauce.
Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve pressing down on the cranberries to extract as much juice as possible.
Cool the sauce completely and then, store in the fridge until ready to use.
To Make the Crust
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium mixing bowl mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan and pack crumbs into the bottom and sides of the pan. You can use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crumbs tightly.
Bake the crust in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool while making the cheesecake filling.
To Make the Filling
Add 2 tablespoons of cold water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and mix to dissolved. Let the mixture sit for about 4-5 minutes. Next, pour 2 tbsp of hot water on top of the gelatin mixture, and mix to incorporate. Set aside.
Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed then, add the Sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and the gelatin mixture and mix until all ingredients are combined.
Note: If the gelatin hardens at any point, you can warm the mixture in the microwave. It only takes a few seconds for the mixture to become liquid again.
To assemble
After the crust has cooled, pour about half of the cheesecake mixture over the crust.
Spoon about 1/3 cup of the cranberry sauce over the cheesecake mixture. Using a knife or skewer, swirl the sauce through the cheesecake.
Pour the remaining cheesecake mixture on top and spoon another 1/2 cup of cranberry sauce over the cheesecake. Using a knife or skewer, swirl the sauce through the cheesecake.
Give the pan a gentle tap against the counter to smooth out the batter and to release any air bubbles. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. The cheesecake needs time to set.
When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator, run a knife around the edges of the pan, open the springform pan and remove the rim.
Top with whipped cream if desired (see below).
Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean between each slice.
Whipped Cream (optional)
Whip the cream with the mixer over medium high speed. Add the granulated sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks are achieved, about 2 minutes.
Place the whipped cream in a piping bag fitted with your preferred tip and pipe the whipped cream on top of the cheesecake.
Sugared Cranberries (optional)
In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine 1⁄2 cup of water and 1⁄2 cup of sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the cranberries until well coated. Let them sit in the syrup for 30 minutes.
With a slotted spoon transfer the cranberries to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and let them dry for at least 1 hour.
Roll the cranberries in the remaining sugar until well coated. Let them dry for about an hour.