There’s a reason I drink wine. It’s the same reason I go for walks and listen to the same comforting records over and over again. It’s the reason I lose myself in perfecting cinnamon bread recipes and hide little slices of blood orange cheesecake in the back of the fridge.
Kids. The reason is kids.
Let me be clear: Mothering is the honor of my life. It’s full of surprises and joy and tears burning in the corners of your eyes because you didn’t know a tiny person could make you laugh so hard. It’s rich and life-giving, and I wouldn’t trade these days for all of the long legs, designer handbags, and front row tickets to Hamilton that the world has to offer.
Mothering: The Hard Stuff
But there’s also endless laundry. There’s sassy toddlers who spend a week’s worth of dinners in time out. There’s blueberries smashed in the seat cushions and about one million questions that start with “Why?” and end with absolutely nothing of importance. This work that we do, Mothers- this beautiful, repetitive, insanity-inducing joy of our lives- is quite often a literal and proverbial poop show, and you’ll never guess who gets the backstage pass to the whole thing.
Yup. It’s the same person who shoves peas into chubby cheeks and clips microscopic toenails. And it’s the person who loses their last French fry to a quick-handed toddler. It’s the gal who sorts through the trash to find the various remotes, sippy cups, and shoes that someone “hid” in the garbage can. A mother’s list of responsibilities is only outmatched by the number of tears they wipe and tantrums they tame, and we somehow trick ourselves into signing up for it again and again and again.
Brett and I recently started talking about the potential of growing our family in the distant future. Sometimes the thought of taking on one more human makes me absolutely choke on my own spit. If I have to listen to one more person whining at the dinner table, I will face-plant in my plate of spaghetti. But still, there are intangibles to mothering that make it irresistible.
Mothering: The Good Stuff
Like sometimes I watch my two children from afar as if the whole thing is happening in slow-motion, black and white. I see little faces wrinkled with smiles, heads thrown back with laughter. They move wildly, chasing each other around the kingdom of our backyard like they could run anywhere in the world. Suddenly, they turn. We lock eyes, and no sooner than a whispered “Mama” unfurls in the wind, they’re running towards me- arms open and voices shrieking into a knock-you-over kind of embrace. The exchange we make for all of the broken dishes and dirty socks is suddenly worth it, because there is nothing quite as remarkable as the sound of little voices whispering your name. There is nothing like the chance to be loved back.
Blood Orange Cheesecake
So yes, motherhood is hard. I don’t know if it gets easier, but while we wait to find out, let’s indulge in simple luxuries. Like this blood orange cheesecake.
This recipe was adapted from a blog favorite, my Meyer lemon cheesecake. You guys go crazy for that thang, so I knew I had to create more cheesy, citrusy goodness. The result is this head-turning, creamsicle-colored blood orange beauty that is sure to beat the pants off of any other dessert in your fridge.
Making the Cheesecake
First, to make it, we start with the crust. Crushed graham crackers, brown sugar, and cinnamon are mixed together to soak up a pool of melted butter. Next, press the mixture into a 9″ springform pan and bake it in the oven while you get started on the filling.
In the meantime, cream cheese and sugar come together until light and fluffy. Afterwards, add a few eggs, some heavy cream, and the blood orange juice and zest. Take care to not overwork your batter, and be sure to incorporate all of the little bits of cheese and zest. No one wants a clumpy cheesecake. Lastly, bake the whole thing in the oven until jiggly but set around the outer edges.
I like to take a few precautions with my cheesecake. First, I always prepare a water bath. This will ensure that my cheesecake bakes evenly and avoids any major cracks in its top. Secondly, I triple layer the aluminum foil around my pan to ensure that no water leaks into my pan. Even supposed “leak-free” pans have sprung a leak, and I promise, nothing is more demoralizing and wasting all of your precious blood oranges on a soggy cheesecake. And thirdly, I let my cheesecakes cool in phases to prevent any major structural damage. This includes a brief stint in a hot, but turned off, oven, a rest on the counter, and a long chill in the fridge.
This blood orange cheesecake is sweet and tart, a brilliant ode to that stunning winter fruit, so pick up a bag of blood oranges at your market and give this recipe a try!
If you like this blood orange cheesecake, you should try:
Blood Orange Cheesecake
This blood orange cheesecake is a sweet and tart, creamy dessert with a cinnamon-spiced graham cracker crust. Learn how to make a successful cheesecake here!
- Prep Time: 25
- Cook Time: 60
- Total Time: 360
- Yield: 10
For the crust:
- 10 sheets (150 gm) honey graham crackers, crumbled finely
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (75 gm) brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of Salt
- 6 tablespoons (85 gm) unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
- 1–1/2 pounds/ 3 blocks (680 gm) of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (155 gm) sugar
- 3 large eggs (170 gm), room temperature
- ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup (80 gm) of blood orange juice (about the juice of 3–4 blood oranges)
- 2 teaspoons grated blood orange zest, avoiding the pith
For the topping:
- 1 cup (240 gm) heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup (50 gm) sugar
To prepare the crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9″ springform pan by wrapping it in sheets of aluminum foil. I use 3 layers of extra wide foil wrapped to the top lip of the pan. Spray the inside walls and bottom of the pan with cooking spray.
- Stir together the dry ingredients until combined. Add the melted butter and stir just until combined. Gently pat out your mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until set.
To prepare the cheesecake
- Keep the oven preheated and get some water boiling in a kettle or saucepan for your water bath.
- Beat cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer at medium speed (I use 4 on my Kitchen Aid Mixer) for 2 minutes to remove all clumps. Do not overbeat, but scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. If many clumps remain, ensure that your cream cheese has softened to room temp.
- Add the sugar and beat on medium for an additional 1 minute. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat to combine an additional 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then add the heavy cream, vanilla, blood orange juice, and zest. Beat just to combine.
- Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the prebaked crust. Gently rap the pan on the counter to help any air bubbles escape.
- Place your springform pan into a slightly larger baking dish/pan and fill the larger pan with the boiling water you prepared for the water bath until the water reaches about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
- Carefully place both pans in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. After an hour of baking, the edges and top of the cheesecake should be set but still slightly jiggle in the center. Turn the oven off and allow the cheesecake to bake for an additional 30 minutes in the oven. Prop the door of the oven open slightly with a wooden spoon and continue to cool the cheesecake for another 30 minutes in the cooling oven.
- Discard the water bath, remove the foil and then place the cheesecake in the fridge to chill for several hours or overnight. The cheesecake can be stored in the fridge for several days.
To prepare the topping:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream in it becomes frothy and thick. Add the sugar and beat to medium stiff peaks. Spread over top of the cooled cheesecake and serve!
- I wrap my springform pan with three layers of heavy duty aluminum foil. This is to protect your crust from any water leakage of your springform pan. Many pans will claim to be waterproof but your crust will get soggy and inedible if water leakage happens. Don’t take any chances!
- I use a 11″ round cake pan for my water bath but you can use any oven-safe dish that you have. Once of my readers used a roasting pan and that works just fine!
- The cooling process seems lengthy and unnecessary, but it helps to prevent drastic temperature changes that can cause structural issues with your cake.