Pomegranate Swirl Cheesecake

I feel like winter fruits don't get as much press as their spring, summer, and even fall counterparts.  Sure, there are plenty of citrus and pomegranate recipes out there, but they don't get nearly the same amount of attention as the berries, stone fruits, apples and (of all things) pumpkins.

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I will admit to being as guilty as the next food lover, since strawberries would pretty much be my theoretical last meal if I had to choose.  Maybe with a side of chocolate.  It's my last meal, who said it had to be balanced?

But I feel like pomegranate needs a little bit more loving.  They're unique.  They're gorgeous.  They taste like they probably were around back in Eden.  Plus they have a boatload of antioxidants, so HEALTHY! Though I think that the sugar in this cheesecake may undo some of their health benefits, if I'm being honest. That is no good reason to not eat it though. 

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A few little things you should know before you start this.  It's a commitment.  The added moisture of the pomegranate swirl means that there's extra moisture, and therefore extra cooking time.  But the long, slow bake?  That means that this will be the creamiest, smoothest cheesecake you've ever encountered.  I dare you to prove me wrong.

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Happy baking, and more importantly, happy eating!

Pomegranate Swirl Cheesecake

Based on Martha Stewart's Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
Serves 12
Prep time: 45 minutes
Baking time: 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours

  • 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, melted
     
  • 32 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
  •  1 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
     
  • 1.5 cups pomegranate juice
  • 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350° F and tightly wrap the bottom of a 10" springform pan in foil.  In a bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs and melted butter until thoroughly combined.  Pat the cookie crumbs into the bottom of the pan in an even layer and bake for ten minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely

In a small pan whisk together pomegranate juice, 2 tbsp. sugar and cornstarch until completely blended. Cook over low heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened but is still pourable. Set aside to cool, but do not chill.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed with the paddle attachment for about 3 minutes or until smooth and light.  Turn the mixer speed down to low and slowly pour in the 1 1/2 cups of sugar, then salt and and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add eggs one at a time and stir until just combined.  Do not overmix.

Pour a quarter of the cream cheese mixture over the crust, then drizzle about 3 Tbsp. of the pomegranate sauce over it.  Carefully spoon another quarter of the cream cheese over it, then another layer of pomegranate sauce.  For the third layer, use up the remaining cream cheese mixture, being sure to cover up the last layer of pomegranate sauce.  Now comes the fun part. Drizzle another 3-4 Tbsp. of the pomegranate sauce on the top .  Using a thin bladed knife or a thin skewer, swirl the sauce around to create swirls in any pattern (or as randomly as) you choose.  You will have pomegranate sauce left.

Place the cheesecake in a pan at least 11" across and set on a rack placed in the middle of the oven.  Pour warm water into the bottom of the pan, and carefully close the door.  Bake for 45 minutes, then cover with foil to prevent the top from browning and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 325° and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, or until all but about 2 inches in the middle are completely set.  Check it frequently to make sure that it's not getting over done.

When the cheesecake is finished, open the oven door and let it cool for ten minutes before taking it out.  Allow it to cool completely to room temperature before refrigerating, then chill completely.

To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan before releasing.  Slice it with the same knife, cleaning the blade between each cut.  Serve with the leftover pomegranate sauce.  Cheesecake will keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator if covered in plastic wrap.

Note: If your pomegranate sauce becomes too thick after refrigerating, put it in the microwave for 10 second intervals, stirring each time.  You may need to thin it slightly with more pomegranate juice.