New Year’s Resolutions and Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Just like the rest of the world, when the New Year begins I sit down and think about my new year’s resolutions… Or I think in the car, while taking a walk, during a boring show, etc. I now have a list of things I’d like to do, change, improve, learn, or quit; and whether I’ve written it down and taped it to my closet, typed it into my phone, or just thought about it over a long period of time until it is burned into my memory, the chances of me completing this list is as slim as ever.IMG_2200 (2)

But just for the heck of it, I will type them here for your viewing pleasure.

  1. Quit biting nails (this has been on my list since 1999… Has not changed. Sometimes after I get a manicure I manage to grow them out for a few weeks, but I rarely get manicures. Mostly because the old Asian woman who does my nails scolds me about bringing her bitten-down nubs to work with. It’s a vicious cycle.)
  2. Get in shape. (I know this is everyone else’s resolution as well, but since I’ve been living in Spain I’ve gained a significant amount of weight and can no longer wear my favorite jeans. So obviously something has to give. And that something is going to my waistline.)
  3. Bake more (This will probably cancel out all aforementioned efforts to get in shape.)
  4. Cook more while I am at home (that is, until mid-March. My mom works and while I am picking up a few babysitting jobs, I have 2 more months to kill while waiting for my visa to come through and I would like to spend it cooking in this kitchen. This resolution is off to a very good start, I might add. Mainly because my boyfriend and I became obsessed with Masterchef recently.)
  5. Don’t be so anxious about my health. (This is by far the most difficult thing for me. Since I was diagnosed with celiac disease over two years ago it has been hard for me to trust the medical community and have faith that they aren’t missing blatantly obvious symptoms of some other disease – like they did last time. But this is mostly on me and I need to start up yoga again and relax. This is why getting into shape is important for me this year – because it will help me get more in touch with my body as well.)
  6. Start being fiscally responsible and think like an adult (That is, have a plan, any plan, for my future and make one of my tedious google doc/excel spreadsheets about it.)
  7. Go to Italy (This kinda seems to cancel out number 6, I know, but my boyfriend and I cancelled a fabulous long weekend to Rome last year right after the Paris attacks. We’re still waiting until we both have the money and time off of work to go enjoy ourselves… So in a way, since I have to budget for this trip, it might actually reinforce my resolution to be more responsible with my money.)
  8. Throw things away. (This gets back to number 6 again, in a way. I never get rid of things – even if I know I’ll never use them again – because I paid money for them and I can’t bear to see it go to waste. What I need to do to avoid this is not only clean out and donate things, but also think more before buying new clothes, stationary, books, shoes, etc.)
  9. Write more. (Professionally, for myself, and on my blog.)

 

That’s it really. They’re simple enough and I have some down time these next few months to get my ducks in a row medically, financially, and mentally before heading back to Spain. For which I am grateful. This also means I have more time to bake and peruse the interwebs for inspiration, as well as my increasingly large library of cookbooks.

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(the dark spot in the center cookie is chocolate hazelnut butter. I wouldn’t recommend adding it.)

This recipe for flourless peanut butter cookies I got from the book Ovenly which is a gorgeous little book from a New York bakery that I found in the public library just the other week. I didn’t realize they had any gluten-free recipes, let alone this absolute gem. The upper corners of certain recipes are marker if they are gluten free or vegan, which is fantastic. (If you’re thinking about buying this book I should state that it is not their intention to bake only allergen-friendly goodies, they just happen to have some well-labeled, thoughtful recipes sprinkled through the book for us non-normal eaters.)

I was extremely skeptic about a flourless peanut butter cookie that literally has 4 ingredients and no chill time in the fridge, and was even more skeptical when I put the unappealing blobs into the oven. All I can say now is… Wow. This is one of the best cookies I’ve ever made and absolutely one of the easiest. The only downside is it takes almost a full jar of peanut butter to make, but it is worth it. The good thing about this though is that they suggest Skippy, so you don’t need to go out and buy an outrageously expensive jar of natural, organic, certified, vegan, nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, refined-sugar free peanut butter made of ground up flowers and dirt. Yay! (*I would like to take this opportunity to say I am a big fan of Justin’s and Big Spoon natural and fresh ground nut-butters.)

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Without further ado, here is my first attempt at New Year’s Resolution #3: Bake More! (And win the powerball tomorrow night.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ c. light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temp.
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (I always add a bit more)
  • 1 ¾ c. peanut butter (again, the NON-natural works better to help cookie maintain its shape)
  • Course sea salt for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until they make a homogenous mixture. Mix in the vanilla extract. Now add the peanut butter and mix with a spatula until you cannot see ribbons or clumps of peanut butter. It will make a thick dough.
  3. Scoop out the cookies into balls and drop on prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the balls with course sea salt.
  4. Bake for 20-22 minutes (turning the pan halfway through this time) or until the cookies are lightly browned and crackled a bit on top.
  5. Let cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to a week. (They won’t last that long. My mom and I got through 5 days but only because we rationed them like it was 1944.)

 

ENJOY!

Lisbon, Portugal – Part 1

Aaaah Europe! Another year, another adventure, another gluten-free holiday before I buckle down and begin my job search in Barcelona. This short 3-day tour of Lisbon was different for me than all my other trips however for one notable reason: I was traveling alone… In a foreign country… For the first time ever. I mean, yes, I did master the Barcelona metro alone and go into the catacombs in Paris alone, but I always went confidently knowing that my friends, my study abroad program coordinators, and my wifi connection were all there to help if things got really desperate. This time it was just me, two incredibly heavy suitcases, two boxes of gluten-free Luna bars, and one sweet little Airbnb apartment located at the top of one very steep hill.

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To say my solo vacation got off to a rough start would be an understatement. After sleeping just 1 hour on my overnight flight from Boston to Lisbon, I found myself sitting in a Portuguese Starbucks with all my worldly belongings (or so it seemed) ready for the world’s longest siesta. I should mention at this point that although I love a good Pumpkin Spice Latte as much as the next American female, I was only at this Starbucks (instead of say, a historic café) for three very important reasons: I needed to use their wifi to contact my Airbnb host, it was located just inside the train station right near where I was staying, and I knew they had a bathroom. Just in case.

While I was waiting I contemplated my decision to move – jobless – to Spain and wondered vaguely why my stomach was hurting so much, assuming it was from the flight, jetlag, emotional turmoil, etc. But then I realized it was probably because I had forgotten to take my much needed acid reflux medicine, and in almost that same instant I ran to the “just-in-case-I-need-it-Starbucks-bathroom” bathroom, and threw up. Anyone who thinks being a celiac and living a gluten-free is boring has clearly never tried traveling with me.

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After receiving a message from my Airbnb host shortly after this incident, I took the most rejuvenating 3-hour nap of my life, ate some (gluten-free) quinoa salad I had bought at Starbucks, and finally, finally joined the wonderful world that is Portugal.

And it was AMAZING.

I went to Portugal for the first time last year on a short weekend trip to Porto and loved it almost as much as I love Spain. And sure enough, when I started walking around Lisbon for that first time that gorgeous day, I caught myself thinking that maybe I should’ve chosen this as the city to run away to. Then I overheard a couple speaking in Portuguese and the daydream ended. As beautiful as the language is (it sounds like Elvish to me), I had enough trouble learning Spanish and remembering which Catalan word meant “pull” and which meant “push”.

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So I decided to enjoy Lisbon for the next three days and see as much as possible, starting with Carmo Convent right outside my front door. Ruined by an earthquake in 1755, this medieval, roofless convent is Portugal’s answer to Tintern Abbey and a must-see for some unexpected beauty. My plan was to then wander through the streets of Lisbon but just one block over I got distracted by a bio grocer full of fresh produce, a café, and gluten-free goodies to stock up on for the weekend! With my assortment of breads tucked safely into my purse, I made my way down one of Lisbon’s 101284799 hills and found one of the city’s oldest and best gelaterias – Gelados Santini. With sour cream and pistachio scoops in hand (cup, no wafer cookies on top) I made my way back to my little bed to sleep before the long day I had planned.IMG_1329 (2)IMG_1111 (2)

The next morning began with yogurt from the bio grocery and a seeded gf roll with fresh cheese my Airbnb roommate so graciously offered me. First stop – Praça de Comércio, formerly known to me as “that pretty yellow building square in Lisbon”. From there I went to a nearby metro station to buy a transportation pass good for the trams, buses, and metros all day long for only €6,00. The plan for the day was to get lost in Belém and see some of Lisbon’s most well-known attractions while I was in the neighborhood.

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I skipped the line first thing at the Jerónimos Monastery and headed instead to the Centro Cultural de Belém, home to the Museu Coleção Berardo. The museum itself is a very cool modern and contemporary art museum with free admission and the cultural center also has a modern rooftop garden and restaurant that overlook the Padrão dos Descobrimentos.

After my artsy morning I hiked uphill to the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda because it was highlighted in so many guidebooks and maps. Many of these helpful tourist guides forget to point out however that this palace was never finished, abandoned, and now houses… nothing other than a tiny “museum” of the incomplete building. And also a café that serves a very interesting Portuguese dish that was (hurray!) gluten free. I don’t know if it is always prepared gluten-free, but at the Palácio’s cafeteria I enjoyed a very cheap lunch of vegetables, fresh salad, and what appeared to be a kind of Shepard’s Pie prepared with salted cod in lieu of meat and potatoes and cheese in lieu of… well, everything else. All in all, my trip was going very well and my gluten-free discoveries just beginning!

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Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake

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This has been a weird year for weather and in central North Carolina we saw a lot more (6 inches, woo!) more snow than usual. One day it was 70 degrees and the next it would be 30 with sleet. See what I mean? All these unpredictable snowstorms and icy roads meant a lot of canceled classes and work for me. Which meant a lot of time indoors with my brother and his terrible taste in TV programs (aside from the most sports games ever, he also enjoys Cops, Gold Rush and Bar Rescue… if you’re familiar with any of those you understand my pain).

As the cabin fever set in I decided the only thing for it was to go on a baking spree. In anticipation of being snowed in, my mom stocked the fridge with butter and eggs before leaving town (very smart considering what happens when her son gets control of the TV). I made macarons, muffins, cookies, lemon curd and a delightful cake lemon ricotta cake from this blog. There is nothing quite like a bright, lemony cake to raise your spirits and mimic the freshness of spring when you’re stuck inside.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest, from about 2ish lemons
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, also at room temp
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray loaf pan. Cut and place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, letting it hang up and over the sides.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk (and/or sift!) together the gf flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside. In your mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and beat until incorporated. Add the ricotta, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on medium speed until well incorporated.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
  5. Pour batter into pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool before removing from pan – make glaze while cooling!
    1. To make glaze, combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. lemon zest, 1/2 tsp. almond extract and 3 Tbsp. of lemon juice. Wait until completely cooled before pouring glaze over cake.

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Enjoy with a cup of tea and a book, or serve up with a little fresh whipped cream after a light meal. You can’t go wrong with this recipe. The only thing I changed from the original was my use of a gluten-free flour blend (xanthan gum included).

Peanut Butter & Banana Cupcakes

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This wayward traveler finally made it home! And while I am slowly plotting my return to the beautiful Spain, I have a little free time to bake again. One thing I found myself missing a lot of in Spain were sweet breads – zucchini, banana, pumpkin, chocolate chip, etc. so I decided I would make myself a nice batch of banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting (because if bread is good, cupcakes are better). I was helped along in this tedious decision-making process when I saw 2 over-ripe bananas sitting on the counter and remembered a recipe I had tried years ago that was simply divine and from Glamour magazine of all place! (While I love Glamour and other fashion rags it must be said this is no Bon Appetit, amiright?)

I would also like to take this opportunity to get back to my blogging ways and slowly incorporate more posts from my time abroad this spring. I’m afraid I trickled out a bit there at the end of the fall due to trips, school, and trying to cram 36 hours into every 24 I had in Barcelona. So every once in a while there be a post about traveling gluten-free now, but rest assured I am most definitely writing it in my pajamas from the US. Sigh.

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Anyway! That’s enough chit chat, who’s ready for a recipe? Just for the record, these are called “Propose to Him Banana Cupcakes” which is pretty dumb in my opinion but then I tasted them and was like…. Yeah, I’d marry me with cupcakes like this. As far as adaptation for a gluten-free recipe, I used the original recipe only substituting AP flour for glutey-free flour blend (in this case I tested out Pillsbury’s new gf blend and was pleasantly surprised! Give it a whirl if you see it in your supermarket.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. flour (gluten-free or otherwise)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 c. ripe mashed bananas

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line tins with paper liners.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  4. Combine all dry ingredients and mix in 3 parts; alternate with buttermilk. Fold in bananas gently.
  5. Fill tins 2/3 full and bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool in tins before frosting, then hide from family.

Buttercream: Mix 2 c. powdered sugar, 1 stick softened butter, 1 cup peanut butter, 3 Tbsp. milk and 1 tsp. vanilla. Blend ingredients with hand mixer until consistency desired.

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IreLAND of Celiacs

Ireland may put the grey in great but they sure do know how to show a Celiac a good time! A  few weeks ago I returned to the motherland (I’m actually so pale a drunk Irish man trying to flirt with my cute American friend just looked at me and went “You’re definitely Irish”… so that answers that I guess) and home to a BUNCH of fellow gluten intolerant Celiac disease-having pale people. Needless to say I was in heaven.

IMG_8244 (2)walking along the cliffs of Howth outside Dublin

The very first thing I did after a my short, uneventful flight was head straight for the Old Jameson Distillery. Now if you know anything about liquor or gluten free diets you may be thinking I shouldn’t be drinking whiskey at all. And while it’s true that there is still some debate and even a handful of myths surrounding which alcohols are and are not safe for Celiacs to consume (definitely NOT beer, of course) it is widely accepted that the gluten used to produce whiskeys, bourbons, etc., is removed during the distillation process – unlike beer and other malted beverages.

The tour for students was 10 euro and very much worth every cent. The Guinness Storehouse costs almost twice as much, it’s self-guided, and if you can’t drink beer anyway it’s not worth it. At the end of the Jameson tour you are given a free drink (a generous glass of the famous drink or a mixed drink with ginger ale, Jameson, and lime) and left to your own devices in the bar. Also well worth the extra money is the Jameson dark chocolate bars sold in the giftshop. Holy gluten free Irish whiskey mecca.

Next stop for anyone visiting Ireland is – of course – fish and chips. Normally gluten intolerance and a craving for this incredibly fresh and delicious meal would mean you’re up the creek without a paddle but there’s such a high demand for gluten free foods in Ireland that Beshoff’s Fish and Chips serves up tasty gluten free options. Tell them you want it gfree and it is prepared in a separate batter (rice flour, spices, etc.) and fried in different oil. Yay! No gluten and no cross-contamination – every girls dream, right? Just beware that the traditional condiment for this dish is MALT vinegar. No, you can’t eat it. Tell the waiter and they’ll grab a gluten-free white vinegar just for you… But if you’re anything like me by the time they make it back to your table you are neck deep in tartar sauce and happy as a clam.

IMG_8219 (2)drooling over Beshoff’s gluten-free battered cod with chips

Another treat I enjoyed immensely was the buckwheat crepes (prepared on a separate crepe making plate thingy) at Lemon Crepe and Coffee Co. in Dublin. First time we went I got a chicken tikka masala and tomato stuffed buckwheat crepe – omg it was increeedible. A little pricier than your average European crepe stand at 6 euro a pop (at least) but well worth the visit for any Celiac – or anyone period. Visited again the next night for dessert with my friend and she got a sweet buckwheat crepe too so we could share our treats. Banana and chocolate? Heavenly. Strawberries and liquor? Perfect. Just what the doctor (gastroenterologist, to be exact) ordered.

IMG_8337 (2)my cutie cute roommate enjoying our dessert spread

IMG_8279 (2)me, attempting to eat my entire chicken tikka crepe in one bite….

Be sure to stop by Antoinette’s Bakery filled with ONLY gluten-free goodies. It’s a little out of the way but if you’re headed towards St. Patrick’s Cathedral or up to Dublin Castle it can’t be missed. I got the chocolate peanut butter brownie and it was so good I thought I was eating gluten. Don’t you love when that happens?!

IMG_8281 (2)outside Antoinette’s Bakery…. Gotta love a good cookie joke

Last but certainly not least – my favorite place in all of Dublin. Little Ass Burritos. In four short days we ate there a total of three times and each time was just as delicious as the one before it. I would get a box with beans, grilled seasoned chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, rice, cheese, salsa, crema, and a hint of chipotle for less than six euro with my Spanish student ID card. At first it didn’t look like enough food but I was so full I practically had to be rolled to the bar after. In fact, we usually opted for coffee after at Bean Hive just up the street. Order the London Fog and prepare to be amazed by what they can do with Earl Gray tea.

IMG_8334 (2)My favorite meal – the Cinco de Fryo box at Little Ass Burritos with extra pico de gallo & chipotle salsa!

No matter what your dietary needs, I highly recommend traveling in Ireland. Sure it’s cold and kinda dismal sometimes but the people are friendly, the alcohol is flowing, the food is comforting, the landscape stunning, and you might even be lucky enough to spot a leprechaun (which we did by the way. Tourist stunt? Definitely. Hilarious? YES.) Happy gluten free trails!

 

Best Ever Almond Cake

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I adore almonds and anything and everything almond flavored. So naturally for my birthday this year I settled on (a fairly simple) almond cake dominated by almond paste rather than flour. I figured I would save some money on gluten-free flour with this one but as it turns out, Almond paste is pretty durn expensive, all baking ingredients considered. This cake however is so beyond compare that it is definitely worth the investment. The result is a dense, rich, aromatic cake that does not overwhelm even the most casual of almond-admirers. Warm blackberry/raspberry sauce and whipped cream offer the best accompaniment to this already glorious cake. With just five – that’s right 5! – ingredients you can make an unforgettable dessert that’ll have the whole family “oohing” and “aahing” and leave the birthday girl swooning.

So bake your heart out and enjoy this spectacular and deceptively simple cake for celebrations or any other day! I can imagine it being wonderful with tea or fresh berries in the summer. The possibilities are endless, really.

This recipe is from Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking and even though they provide their own gluten-free flour blend, I used my own in the same amount.

Ingredients:

  • 10 1/2 ounces of almond paste (use Solo brand if you can find it – it’s gluten free)
  • 1 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs beaten
  • 2 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. gluten-free flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a ten inch (or nine if you don’t have every size pan in the universe, like me) springform pan and sprinkle flour on the bottom and sake it around on the sides until the whole pan is cover. Tap out excess.
  2. In a stand mixer, blend almond paste and sugar until uniformly mixed. Mix in 1/2 eggs to make a paste. Mix in softened butter a little at a time until incorporated, then add remaining eggs.
  3. Add flour but do not overbeat – mix until just combined and transfer to pan.
  4. Bake for 40 min. until golden brown on top but still slightly soft in the middle.
  5. Let cake cool in pan before removing. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 8 hours before serving. (Or not – I panicked because I didn’t see this part when I made this cake three hours before my birthday dinner… turns out yes, it’s delicious after being refrigerated but was just as good three hours out of the oven! Do not fear.)

Raspberry Sauce: (or any berry, really!)

Combine 2/3 c. sugar, 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Stir in 1 1/2 c. cold water and add 1 pint of fresh berries or 12 oz. frozen berries and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens – about 4 minutes.

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Mini Orange Cheesecakes with Blood Orange Caramel

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For those of you who have seen Bridget Jones’s Diary (one of my all time favorite movies) you might remember a certain scene in the movie in which Bridget Jones has just become a “broadcasting genius” and is heading home to cook dinner for her friends because she has the “sneaking suspicion” that she is “also somewhat of a genius in the kitchen as well.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought that to myself and had it go horribly wrong. (Here’s the clip I was talking about if you haven’t seen this gem!)

Yes, it’s true. Sometimes I get a little wee bit overambitious in my baking endeavors. For some reason, one of the things I have just never been able to get a handle on is anything that involves the stove top in the baking process. If I should be “simmering” cream, I burn it. Caramelizing sugar? Fuggedaboutit. But when I saw a recipe for orange macarons (which I had never made) with blood orange caramel, I was like “Psssh! I can do that!” I thought I was a culinary genius too, sigh.

This long, tragic tale ends with me not really being sure how my caramel concoction was supposed to taste…. but pretty certain it wasn’t supposed to be so bitter. I mean – blegh. It was strange. So in lieu of making the macarons (okay, fine, I just couldn’t take another failure after the burning-the-caramel-fiasco) I looked into making these tiny cheesecakes instead! I poured just a little bit of the failed caramel into each cheesecake cup before baking them, hoping that the bitterness would be balanced out by the sweetness and smoothness of cream cheese and sugar. And thankfully it worked!

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Ingredients:

For the mini orange cheesecakes (makes 12) (recipe adapted from here)

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • fresh squeezed juice from one orange
  • Zest of one orange

Crust

  • 1 c. gluten-cookie crumbs, finely ground (I used Lucy’s Holiday Sugar Cookies)
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter

Blood orange caramel (recipe adapted from “Les Petits Macarons”)

  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. fresh squeezed and strained blood orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. blood orange zest
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

To prepare the caramel

1. Heat cream, orange juice and zest in a saucepan over medium heat until it is almost boiling, roughly 3-5 minutes.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and lemon juice over medium heat, using a wooden utensil to blend the lemon juice into the sugar.

3. Cook until sugar syrup turns clear amber color and the edges start to foam. Do not stir. Supposedly this step takes ten minutes, it took me way longer. I don’t know if it was the poopy store brand sugar I used (I know, I totally didn’t think this would matter either… but the granules were pretty large!) or the pan or just my inability to make caramel, but if it takes you longer than ten minutes, don’t let it bubble up and go crazy like I did!

4. Remove caramel from heat and pour in cream mixture to stop the cooking. But be sure to pour it in away from you to avoid burning. Pour into a heat proof container and let come to room temperature for roughly 2 hours before refrigerating for a day.

For mini cheesecakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with paper liners. Make sure cookies used for the crumbs are finely ground, preferably by food processor. Mix in the melted butter and press about a tablespoon into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Bake the crusts for five minutes until set.

2. In a mixer, beat the 2 packages of softened cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, orange juice and zest beating until just combined. Add the eggs and mix until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.

3. Evenly divide the filling into the cupcake tins with crusts. Here you can either save the blood orange caramel for topping, or drizzle a tiny bit over each cheesecake before putting it in the oven. Be sure to use a toothpick or knife to evenly distribute the caramel because it is heavy and can melt down into the crust during the baking process.

4. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until centers are slightly jiggly and edges are solid. Allow to cool at room temperature before refrigerating for a few hours until serving. Enjoy!

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