This gorgeous and delicious cranberry white chocolate mousse cheesecake is an absolute showstopper of a holiday dessert!

And just look at those sugared cranberries! 😍 (You won’t believe how easy they are to make!) All of the different layers and components can be made ahead of time for quick assembly and baking. I’m walking you through everything below!

Slice of cranberry white chocolate mousse cheesecake on white plate with piped whipped cream and sugared cranberries.

Quick Cranberry Jam

Absolutely integral to the recipe, this quick and easy cranberry jam is just:

  • fresh cranberries
  • granulated sugar
  • water + a touch of fresh lemon juice + a tiny bit of vanilla extract

Simmer all of those ingredients until the cranberries pop and break down and the jam is super thick. It will thicken even a bit more as it cools.

Let it cool to room temperature. The jam can be made several days in advance.

How to Make Sugared Cranberries

I’ve always thought sugared cranberries to be one of the most beautiful garnishes ever. But I thought they were complicated to make.

Boy was I ever wrong! These sugared cranberries are simple as can be.

  1. Simmer sugar and water until the sugar dissolves making a simple syrup.
  2. Pour the simple syrup over fresh cranberries and let them sit in this mixture for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cranberries from the simple syrup and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet (without touching or they’ll stick together).
  4. Let the cranberries dry for a few hours until they are sticky to the touch.
  5. Roll in granulated sugar.

That’s it! The sugared cranberries can be made several days in advance and keep best uncovered at room temperature (in a cool, dry spot).

Cheesecake Batter

The cheesecake batter in this recipe is egg-free and bakes up to the lightest, creamiest baked cheesecake you’ll ever meet.

It is amazing. And it comes with an ancestry that is loaded with rave reviews (started with this white chocolate mousse cheesecake which has now been made into a peppermint bark version, a pumpkin version, and now this epic cranberry cheesecake).

A bit of cornstarch in the batter helps thicken, as well as soften, the cheesecake batter for a luscious, ethereal result.

Also, because there aren’t any eggs in the recipe, this cheesecake isn’t prone to cracking like so many other baked cheesecake recipes.

Assembling Cranberry Cheesecake

The crust for this cheesecake bakes for a few minutes on its own before assembling the rest of the layers.

  • First: crust
  • Second: half of the cheesecake batter
  • Third: half of the cooled cranberry jam
  • Fourth: remaining cheesecake batter

At this point, the cheesecake is baked until the edges are set and the center is still a bit jiggly wiggly.

Once the cheesecake is mostly cooled, continue with the layers.

  • Fifth: remaining cranberry jam
  • Sixth: white chocolate mousse layer

Choosing the Right Springform Pan Size

The photos in this post show the cheesecake assembled and baked in a 9-inch springform pan {aff. link}.

You can see that it is very full. And that’s without the sweetened whipped cream layer. If using a 9-inch springform pan, make sure the sides are at least 3 inches tall.

A 10-inch springform pan {aff. link} will also work great for this recipe.

Either way, I prefer to either pipe the sweetened whipped cream around the edges or dollop on individual servings vs spreading over the top of the white chocolate mousse (no matter the size of pan).

Top down view of cheesecake with sugared cranberries, fresh cranberries and piped whipped cream.

Optional Layers

While undoubtedly beautiful, the sugared cranberries are completely optional for this cheesecake. They are only used for garnish (and for eating if people want to – I think they’re yummy!), but they aren’t integral to the recipe like the crust, cranberry jam, cheesecake batter or white chocolate mousse.

The sweetened whipped cream also makes a pretty and yummy garnish and helps cut through the richness of the cheesecake, but it also isn’t 100% necessary, and the cheesecake is delicious with or without.

If this recipe seems a bit much (I get it! It’s kind of intense!), you can easily ditch those two components for a more approachable, but still show-stopping, dessert.

Slice of cranberry cheesecake on white plate.

Best Holiday Cheesecake

However, if you choose to accept this mission, I can guarantee that within a few hours (and after washing a bowl or two), you’ll be staring at one of the most delicious holiday cheesecakes in the history of ever.

The rivers of sweet and tart cranberry jam run through the soft and creamy cheesecake batter for an incredibly tasty contrast of flavors.

And the white chocolate mousse layer? It brings all the comfort of a weighted blanket during a nap after a stressful day. It settles in on top of the cheesecake with the confidence of the singular component needed to bring everything together into one astonishingly wonderful cheesecake.

Slice of cranberry white chocolate mousse cheesecake on white plate with bite taken out.

There is so much to love about this cranberry white chocolate mousse cheesecake.

It’s gorgeous.

The holiday flavors are top notch.

It’s unique but not weird.

And it is truly one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had.

If you are looking for the perfect holiday dessert, this is the one. Read through the recipe entirely, because I think you’ll find that while it is lengthy and there are a lot of components, it really does come together quicker and more easily than you might think.

Grab that apron and get going! I promise it’ll be worth it.

Piece of cranberry cheesecake on fork on white plate.

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Slice of cranberry white chocolate mousse cheesecake on white plate with bite taken out.

Cranberry White Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

5 stars (15 ratings)

Ingredients

Sugared Cranberries:

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries (4 oz/113 g)
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup (159 g) granulated sugar

Quick Cranberry Jam:

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries (16 oz/454 g)
  • 1 cup (212 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Crust:

  • 1 ½ cups (150 g) finely crushed graham crackers, about 9 to 10 rectangle graham crackers
  • ¼ cup (53 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk (see note)
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) butter, melted

Cheesecake Batter:

  • 24 ounces (680 g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (212 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup (227 g) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

White Chocolate Mousse:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces white chocolate (NOT almond bark, candy wafers or white chocolate chips), melted (see note)

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • For the sugared cranberries, place the cranberries in a medium bowl. Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan until simmering and the sugar is fully dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the mixture over the cranberries and stir them to coat. Let the cranberries sit in the simple syrup for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove the cranberries with a slotted spoon, draining excess syrup, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet without touching (or they’ll stick together). Let them dry for one to two hours (it’s ok if they’re still a bit wet on the bottom but the top and sides should be sticky to the touch). Roll the cranberries in granulated sugar to coat and place in a bowl or on a tray. Set aside. The sugared cranberries can be made several days in advance. Cover and keep at room temperature.
  • For the cranberry jam, combine all the ingredients except the vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring often, for 10-12 minutes until thick. Moderate heat so the jam doesn't burn. Stir in the vanilla. Scrape into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. The jam can be made several days in advance.
  • For the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the egg yolk and melted butter and mix until evenly combined.
  • Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and just barely up the sides of a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan (will be very full if using 9-inch pan, make sure sides are at least 3 inches tall). If your pan is prone to leaking, place foil around the bottom and up the side on the outside of the pan before baking.
  • Bake the crust for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool completely. Keep the oven on at 350 degrees F for the cheesecake.
  • For the cheesecake layer, in a medium bowl with a handheld electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese until super soft and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and cornstarch and mix until well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Spread HALF of the cheesecake batter over the crust. Dollop HALF of the cooled cranberry jam over the cheesecake batter and gently spread around. If it has been chilled, it will be a bit harder to spread over the soft cheesecake batter, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Spread the remaining cheesecake batter over the top.
  • Bake for 45 to 60 minutes (more time for a full 9-inch pan, likely a bit less time for a 10-inch pan), until the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  • When cool, dollop the rest of the cranberry jam over the top and spread evenly. It may not fully cover the cheesecake – it's ok if it is a bit patchy here and there.
  • For the white chocolate mousse, in a medium bowl, beat the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer) until peaks form.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the melted white chocolate and mix until smooth and creamy. Fold in the whipped cream mixing gently with a rubber spatula until evenly combined (see note). Spread the white chocolate mousse over the cranberry jam. Chill for 1 to 2 hours so the mousse layer can set up a bit.
  • For the sweetened whipped cream, beat the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla together until peaks form. Spread the whipped cream evenly over the white chocolate mousse OR pipe around the edges.
  • Garnish cheesecake or individual servings with sugared and/or fresh cranberries.
  • The cheesecake can be made 1 to 2 days in advance. Add the sweetened whipped cream within 2 to 3 hours of serving and add sugared cranberries right before serving as both of those components can get liquidy (and the cranberries will lose their crackly sugar coating) if added to the cheesecake too far in advance.

Notes

Optional: while beautiful, the sugared cranberries are completely optional for this cheesecake. They are only used for garnish (and for eating if people want to), but they aren’t integral to the recipe. The sweetened whipped cream also makes a tasty garnish and compliment to the rich cheesecake, but it isn’t necessary, and the cheesecake is delicious with or without.
Heavy Whipping Cream: the recipe states to whip the heavy cream separately when making the white chocolate mousse layer. I use 40% fat heavy cream (Darigold brand from Costco), and skip this step. Instead, I melt the white chocolate, add the softened cream cheese and whip until creamy. Then I add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix until super thick and creamy. The reason the recipe isn’t written this way is because not everyone uses the same heavy cream as I do, and if you are using a heavy cream with less fat (different brands will vary in fat percentage), it may not thicken added as liquid to the white chocolate/cream cheese without whipping it to peaks first. 
White Chocolate: it is really important to use *real* white chocolate for the mousse layer and not almond bark or melting wafers. White chocolate chips generally don’t melt well, either, so they are not recommended since the white chocolate needs to be melted alone before being mixed with the cream cheese. I use the Ghirardelli white chocolate bars (usually found in the baking aisle by the chocolate chips). 
Egg Yolk: since the cheesecake batter is egg-free, this is a popular recipe for those that need an egg-free dessert. For that reason (and others), the egg yolk can be eliminated from the crust, if needed. 
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 601kcal, Carbohydrates: 72g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Cholesterol: 106mg, Sodium: 381mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 59g
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Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe