4ounceswhite chocolate baking barbroken into smaller pieces
In a medium saucepan on medium heat, add the water, ½ cup sugar, and orange juice. Bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugars. This will take 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and pour the sugar water over the fresh cranberries in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. You will use the remaining 1 cup of sugar to coat the cranberries after their overnight soak.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with aluminum foil. In a large, oven-safe dish, add 1 to 2 inches of water and set aside. You will NOT place your springform pan into the dish with the water. The dish with the water will go onto the lower rack in your oven, while the cheesecake will cook on the middle rack. This will create a moist baking environment for your cheesecake to cook evenly without risking water seeping into your springform pan while your cheesecake bakes.
First, you will make your cranberry compote by adding the whole berry cranberry sauce, granulated sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and salt to a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, and cook for 5 minutes or until the sugars are dissolved and the cranberry compote has thickened. Remove from the heat and cool while making the other components of the Christmas cheesecake.
In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, finely chopped pecans, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter until completely incorporated. Pack the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan with the crust mixture. You can use the bottom of a flat dry measuring cup to press the crumbs into a thick, tight crust. Place the springform pan, with the crust pressed in, into the freezer to chill while you make the cheesecake filling.
In another large mixing bowl, with a handheld mixer on medium speed, add the cream cheese and beat for 1 to 2 minutes to get all the lumps out of the cream cheese before adding the granulated sugar. Continue to beat for another minute to incorporate the sugar into the cream cheese.
With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, being sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding the next, then add the sour cream, all-purpose flour, and vanilla extract and mix just until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Be sure not to beat too much air into the cream cheese mixture.
Take the crust out of the freezer and add the cooled cranberry compote mixture to the bottom of the crust in an even layer.
Very slowly, add the cream cheese mixture on top of the cranberry compote layer. Be careful not to mix the compote into the cream cheese.
Place the water-filled dish onto the bottom tray of the oven, then place the Christmas cheesecake on the middle rack and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Your cheesecake is done when the center is just barely jiggly when you move your springform pan.
Turn off the oven and crack the door open a couple of inches to allow your cheesecake to cool in the oven for 1 hour. Remove and allow to cool on the counter before placing it into the refrigerator to cool completely.
While your cheesecake is baking and cooling, you can make the white chocolate whipped cream by adding 2 cups of heavy cream to a large bowl and beating it on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat it until it is thick with just slightly stiff peaks. Do not overbeat.
Heat the remaining ½ cup of heavy cream in a microwave-safe, large-sized bowl for 1 minute. Once hot, add the white chocolate bar that has been broken into smaller pieces. Allow the hot heavy cream to cover the chocolate and let it sit for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth.
In a small dish, add the 1 tablespoon of water and sprinkle over the unflavored gelatin. Once the gelatin has absorbed the water, heat it for 20 seconds in the microwave, then add it to the bowl of melted white chocolate. Stir to completely incorporate.
Add about 1 cup of the whipped heavy cream to the white chocolate and stir to combine. Add another 1 cup of whipped cream, but this time you will gently start to fold the whipped cream into the white chocolate. Repeat until you have gently folded all the whipped cream into the white chocolate. Be sure to be gentle while folding the whipped cream into the white chocolate, as you do not want to deflate your white chocolate whipped cream.
Transfer half of your white chocolate whipped cream to a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip, and store the piping bag and bowl of whipped cream in the refrigerator until your cheesecake has cooled completely.
Once your cheesecake has cooled to room temperature on the counter, you can top it with the other half of the white chocolate whipped topping that is not in the piping bag. You want a nice thick layer.
Place your cheesecake into the refrigerator to cool for a minimum of 8 hours, but an overnight chill is ideal.
For the sugar-coated fresh cranberries, you will drain the liquid off them and, using a slotted spoon, toss a handful of the sweetened cranberries into a bowl of the 1 cup granulated sugar and coat them in the sugar. Remove the sugar-coated cranberries with the slotted spoon, allowing any excess sugar to filter back into the bowl, and place the coated berries onto a plate. Repeat until all the cranberries have been coated.
Once your cheesecake has completely chilled and set, you can remove the outer form from the springform pan, place your cheesecake onto a serving plate and garnish the center with the sugar-coated cranberries and pipe the remaining white chocolate whipped cream around the edges for a beautiful finish.