Valentines Day, Galentines Day… Love Yo’self Day… whichever one of the above you celebrate, the week of looooooove is upon us once again. Sunny and I actually celebrated a couple of weeks ago (here in Wales we celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day instead on the 25th of January) – so I’m totally free this Friday to celebrate the other loves in my life – and that includes myself. I’ve got a hot date with a bathtub, some gin and a good book, and I cannot wait. I’ve also got at least one of these Mini Blood Orange Cheesecakes still bashing around in the fridge; I’ve been saving it to scoff during my soak. 😉
I feel like my go-to for a homemade Valentines Day treat always involves a pack of Blood Oranges. It’s kind of becoming a tradition. Last year I made Blood Orange Curd, as well as this Heart Shaped Blood Orange Upside Down Cake. And who could forget those Blood Orange-Glazed Doughnuts I made the year before that? I think they’re quite possibly my all time favourite. Part of the reason I pick them is because they just happen to be in season this time of year – they’re definitely one of my favourite things to spot in the supermarket during January – but they also happen to be my favourite citrus fruit because I usually find that they’re sweeter and juicier than your bog standard orange. Oh, and lastly, they’re pink, and they’re pretty to look at and photograph. Duh.
These miniature cheesecakes are a bit of a throwback to the horrendously 80s cheesecake that my Mum and Dad used to buy down the freezer aisle when I was a kid (…and they still do to this day). You know, the one with the bright orange jelly and tangerine segments on top? The parts are all there, I’ve just shrunk it down to cupcake size and given it a bit of a face-lift. The base is made from blitzed Biscoff biscuits, the creamy, baked cheesecake filling has that slightly tangy New York Cheesecake flavour, and then it’s all topped off with a vegetarian blood orange jelly and a candied blood orange segment. They’re really easy to make and are a sweet way of treating your favourite people this Valentines Day.
Mini Blood Orange Cheesecakes
For the Cheesecakes:
24 Biscoff biscuits (around 180g)
30g melted butter
360g full fat cream cheese
70g sour cream
110g caster sugar
zest of one blood orange
2 eggs, whisked
For the jelly:
juice of one blood orange (about 100ml)
200ml cold water
50g caster sugar
1 sachet of veggie gel
For the candied Blood Orange segments:
1 blood orange, thinly sliced
200ml caster sugar
Grab a muffin tray and line it with ten muffin cases. Heat your oven to 180°C (fan).
First, make the cheesecake base: blitz your biscuits in a food processor until they’re soft and grainy (…and look a lot like sand!). Stir in the melted butter, and then spoon a little bit of the mixture into each muffin case. Gently press down to a create a level base. Make sure you don’t pack it down too much or your base is going to be hard when it sets.You want it to crumble a little.
To make the creamy cheesecake filling, whisk together the cream cheese, sour cream, caster sugar, eggs and blood orange zest. You want an airy, smooth texture (no lumps!); the smoother it is, the creamier the cheesecake. Divide that mixture equally between the muffin cases, and then bake for 20 minutes. The cheesecakes will puff and rise in the oven, and they’ll probably crack a little. You’ll know they’re done when they start to tan a little on top. Leave them in the muffin tray in their cases to cool.
While your cheesecakes are cooling, make the candied blood orange segments. Sounds difficult, but it’s actually really easy. First, grab a deep saucepan, pop your sliced blood orange segments into it and then cover them with water. Bring them to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes until the peel goes soft. Remove the blood orange segments and pop them in a bowl of cold water. Don’t throw away the water in the saucepan – it’s packed full of juice and you’re going to use it to make the syrup. Measure 200ml of that juice and then pour it back in the saucepan with the caster sugar. Dissolve the sugar on a low heat, and then pop the blood orange segments in. Allow them to simmer on a low heat in the syrup for 30 minutes – turning them occasionally to coat both sides. Once done, fish them out and then leave them to cool on a piece of baking paper.
Once your cheesecakes have cooled completely, make the jelly. Again, not as tricky as it sounds! Combine your blood orange juice and 200ml of cold water. Stir in the caster sugar until it dissolves, and then do the same with the veggie gel (watch out for lumps!). Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring it to the boil – and then divide it between your cheesecake cups. Top each one with a candied blood orange slice.
Put the cheesecakes in the fridge to set and cool for at least 2 hours before scoffing. 😉
Firmly on the Blood Orange bandwagon and no sign of jumping off. Sorry not sorry. How was your Valentine’s Day? Did you celebrate? Do you celebrate? I didn’t even get a card, you guys. Sunny was really busy working in London all day, and to be honest we don’t really celebrate it. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t just a teeny bit jealous when I watched one of my lovely neighbours squealing over the massive bouquet that turned up on her doorstep… but whatever! Although, to be fair, Sunny did take me to the opera over the weekend, and since he was willing to sit next to me and endure three hours of Mozart being screamed at him, I think we can call it even… Also, he never gets a chance to buy me flowers because I’m always buying them for myself! 😉
I guess it’s those little gestures all year round that really count, right? Like, Sunny always walks Bungle on a Saturday morning so I can have a lie in. He always lets me have the extra cream egg when we buy three (not that he’d really have much choice on that one…). He de-ices my car and fills up the screen-wash when it’s running low, and he knows how to pull me out of a rut. My little gestures tend to be food-related; I’m a total feeder. Last week I made this really easy upside down cake and topped it with blood oranges. It’s sticky and sweet, and if you choose the juiciest blood oranges then you’ll get the prettiest topping. The hardest part is making the caramel – but really, as long as you’re not tempted to stir, it’s a doddle. 🙂
Blood Orange Caramel Upside Down Cake
2 Ripe Blood Oranges, thinly sliced
125g Caster Sugar
100g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
50g Ground Almonds
For the Caramel:
150g caster sugar
pinch of salt
100ml of water
Set your oven to 170° and grease a silicon baking tin (I used a heart shaped one because, Valentines Day!) – it’ll make things easier when it comes to flipping the cake. Sprinkle with a little flour and then set aside.
Make the caramel by putting your caster sugar in a saucepan with water. Bring it to the boil on a medium heat without stirring (don’t be tempted!). Once the sugar has all dissolved and the mixture has started to turn a lovely tawny, amber colour – stir in your butter. As soon as the butter has melted in, pour the caramel into the bottom of your cake tin. Now, evenly layer your orange segments on top.
Hard part’s over! Now to make the cake, you’re going to cream together the butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in the egg.
Now, in a separate bowl sift together most of your dry ingredients; that’s the flour, baking powder and ground almonds. Combine with the wet ingredients.
Stir in the buttermilk to make a light batter, and then pour it into the tin over the orange and caramel base. Smooth over the top, then bake for 30 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Leave to cool.
When you’re ready to serve, flip your cake so the caramel and orange base is on top. Serve with cream… 🙂
I’ve made a few howlers in the kitchen recently. I tried my hand at making Pastel de Nata for the first time the other day, and I don’t know if it was me or whether the recipe was a stinker but I bit into one and it was basically a quiche/scrambled egg cup. Yeesh! You win some, you lose some, I guess. (Try asking Sunny about the chilli and chocolate chicken I once made for him. *shudders*)
Anyway, I wanted to bake something summery – since the weather’s cheered up over the last few days – but after the whole Pastel de Nata fail wanted to keep things a bit simple, so I came up with these Blood Orange and Almond Muffins. I made them yesterday morning before it got really hot, then went out for a walk around the field with Bungle. They were the perfect treat to come back to, but honestly, the best part about them is the candied blood orange segment on top. Yum.
Blood Orange and Almond Muffins (with candied Blood Orange segments)
200g self raising flour
1stp baking powder
1stp ground cinnamon
50g ground almonds
100g demerara sugar
125 ml milk
4 tbsp melted butter
Zest of 2 Blood Oranges (save the juice for the glaze)
For the candied Blood Oranges and Glaze:
2 Blood Oranges cut into slices
200g caster sugar
For the glaze gradually add some icing sugar to your blood orange juice until you reach the consistency you want.
Preheat the oven to 180° and fill a muffin tray with muffin cases.
In a large bowl, mix together your dry ingredients – that’s the flours, ground cinnamon, baking powder, ground almonds and sugar.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter before stirring it into the dry ingredients. Once combined, mix in your blood orange zest.
Share the batter between twelve muffin cases, then bake for 20 minutes.
Once the muffins are cooked, set them aside and leave them to cool.
To make the candied blood oranges first bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil and soak the blood orange slices for 3 minutes until the peel is soft. Have a bowl of cold water ready, and drop the slices in there to cool.
Heat up a saucepan with the sugar and water – don’t be tempted to stir, leave it until the sugar all dissolves and then add the blood orange slices. Let them simmer in the sugar water for 30 minutes, making sure you soak both sides, then put them on a sheet of baking paper and leave to cool.
Glaze the muffins and then top with a candied blood orange segment. 🙂
Have a great weekend everyone – enjoy the sunshine! (…while it lasts!) 🙂
If you saw my post on Blood Orange Doughnuts then you’ll know how obsessed I am right now with using them to make perfect Calpol-pink icing. I mean, who knew? Seriously, my days of using food colouring are over, and now I’m on the hunt for other fruits that’ll work in my icing crayon box. And if I find any, I’ll let you know 🙂
I’m also a tad obsessed with Loaf Cakes – mostly because they’re so easy to make as long as you’ve got the right tin! For this one, I played around with my Lemon and Pistachio Drizzle Cake recipe and instead made an Orange and Almond version.
Orange & Almond Loaf Cake
100g caster sugar
100g butter or marg (you can even use olive oil)
100g self raising flour
50g ground almonds
tbsp baking powder
zest of one orange (I used a blood orange for the pink icing, but a normal orange will do if you’re not into that)
juice of one orange
Set the oven to 180 and grease a small loaf tin.
Cream together the fat and sugar and then lightly beat in the eggs.
Next add the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and orange zest and stir until the mixture has combined to make a fluffy batter. Pour into the tin.
Cook for around 40 minutes – or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Use the juice and powdered sugar to make the icing; it’s all down to preference, you’ll need around a 3:1 ratio of sugar to juice, but it take take a little trial and error to get the exact texture and pigment/flavour you’re after.
In case you didn’t know, next week it’s St Dwynwen’s Day (25th of January) – our very own Welsh version of Valentines Day, where we exchange cards, flowers and love spoons – if we remember to! And if we do, it’s kind of nice to quietly celebrate Valentines Day before everyone else jumps on the band wagon in February.
The story goes that Princess Dwynwen – the fairest of King Brychan Brycheiniog’s twenty four daughters – went and did what all fairytale princesses do best; she fell in love with a boy that her father didn’t approve of. For whatever reason, Maelon Dafodrill just wasn’t marriage material. Tamping to tears, Dwynwen ran off into the woods and begged God to make her forget he ever existed. An angel appeared, turned Maelon into a block of ice, and offered to grant Dwynwen three wishes. First, she wished that Maelon be thawed; second, she wished never to marry; and third, she asked God to grant the wishes of all true lovers. So the story goes.
Anyway, Sunny (my bearded beloved, in case you didn’t know) knows all too well that my heart mostly wishes for doughnuts. And luckily for me (but not so much for my waistline…) they’re so easy to make! Once you’ve cracked the dough, anything’s possible, not to mention the fact that you’re suddenly everyone’s best friend. 🙂 Back in November I made a bag of doughnut holes for bonfire night, and – this time around – I made these miniature ring doughnuts. Blood oranges are in season at the moment and the juice makes the perfect pink glaze – no food colouring necessary!
Ring Doughnuts with Blood Orange Glaze
250g strong white flour (and a little extra for dusting)
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
40g caster sugar
150ml of lukewarm water
1 tsp of softened butter
1 sachet of instant dried yeast
vegetable oil for frying
1 or 2 blood oranges (depending on the size and juicyness!)
powdered sugar (again, use your noddle and add whatever you need to make a thick glaze)
If you’ve got a bread maker then you’re all sorted; put the water in first, then the dried ingredients and hit the dough program. Easy! If you’re a hand baker, then you’ll need to sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and then add the water, butter and yeast – gradually bringing the dough together. Knead for 5 minutes, then cover with cling film and leave to prove somewhere warm. Within about an hour the dough should have doubled in size.
Knock back the dough and roll it out on a floured surface. Use a cookie cutter to cut out your doughnut shape, and a smaller one to cut out the hole in the middle.
Heat the oil in a deep pan. You can use one of the doughnut holes to test whether it’s hot enough; if it goes golden brown (“texture like sun… la la”) in under two minutes then you’re good to go.
With a spoon, dip each doughnut into the oil for about five minutes each – tipping them over half way. Dry them off on a plate with a paper towel and leave to cool.
Make the glaze by mixing the blood orange juice and powdered sugar. Drizzle over the cooled doughnuts.