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Chocolate cheesecake with cranberry-cherry compote

Chocolate Cheesecake

8 oz. chocolate wafers
3 oz. sweet butter

Process cookies in a food processor until they make fine crumbs; you should have 2 cups. Melt butter and stir it into crumbs until thoroughly mixed. Pour the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch non-stick springform pan. Press the crumbs with your fingertips to make a compact layer on the bottom as well as approximately 1/4-inch up the sides of the pan.

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (chips or coarsely chopped squares)
24 oz cream cheese (3 8-ounce packages), room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream

Melt the chocolate over hot water and stir until completely melted and smooth; set aside to cool slightly. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese until very smooth. Add the vanilla, salt and sugar and beat well. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl until very smooth. Mix in the chocolate until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl and beating the mixture after each addition. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth.

Pour the filling into the crumb crust and gently shake the pan to ditribute and smooth the filling. Smooth with a spatula if necessary. Bake for one hour. Cheesecake will seem soft. Let cool on a rack then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, use a sharp knife to cut around sides of cheesecake. Then release and remove the sides of the pan. This cake is firm enough to remove from bottom of pan if a serving platter is desired. This cake is rich and small portions should be served. Makes 12 servings.

Cranberry-Cherry Compote

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup dried sour cherries
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, picked through and cleaned
1 tsp. orange zest
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Add water and sugar to a medium sauce pan. Stir and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add orange peel, and simmer 5 minutes. Add the dried cherries and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add cranberries and cook, stirring gently until they begin to soften and break open, approximately 10 minutes longer. Remove compote from heat and add cinnamon; stir to blend. Allow compote to cool slightly; use warm. Left over can be refrigerated* in an airtight container, makes a great topping for scones, too. Makes about 3 1/2 cups compote.

*Cranberries contain a lot of natural pectin. If leftover compote is stored it will probably thicken. Adding a little water will bring it back to a sauce-like consistency.

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