Notes from the Test Kitchen:
Delicious and impressive, this cheesecake will be a hit at your holiday table (or anytime really!). Thanks to the condensed milk, it's super creamy. The cranberries give this cheesecake a wonderful tang as opposed to a sweetness. The sugared cranberries on top are sooo good. You may want to double the recipe just to snack on them!
1Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9" round springform pan with cooking spray, add a layer of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan and spray the paper as well.
2In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and sugar. Mix well and press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and up the side of the pan about 1"; set aside.
(do not bake the crust)
3In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and condensed milk until it is smooth. Add in the lemon juice and blend well. Add the eggs one at a time and blend until the eggs are fully incorporated into the batter.
4Remove the batter from the mixer and fold in the cranberries and orange zest. Pour the batter into the springform pan.
5Place the pan directly onto a baking sheet (no water bath) and bake for 60-70 minutes or until the center is almost set.
6Remove the cake from the oven and let it rest on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes. Then, run a knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan. Let the cake cool on the rack for at least another hour before placing into the refrigerator to set. Leave the cake in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight to set.
7While the cake is setting, bring 1 cup water and 1 cup of sugar to a simmer in a medium sauce pan until the sugar is fully melted; do not bring the sugar to a boil because it will pop the cranberries. Stir in the whole cranberries and gently coat them. Cover them with plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
8Drain the cranberries and toss them in super fine or regular sugar to coat them, transfer the coated berries onto a baking sheet and let them harden for at least 1-2 hours. Use mint leaves or grape leaves (if you have them) to decorate your cake.