Austen · Emma

Donwell Abbey’s Almond Cheesecakes


Author: Austen, Jane
Book: Emma
Difficulty rating: Little Women
Deliciousness rating: Exceeds Expectations

Part of Afternoon Tea with Emma

Did it measure up?

We don’t understand why these are called cheesecakes when they have zero cheese in them … not even milk … but they are yummy! They aren’t too sweet or heavy, and they remind me a little of Chinese almond cookies. I would try shortcrust instead of puff pastry next time, but either way, they are a very nice treat.

From The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black & Deirdre Le Faye

Here’s the original recipe:

Take half a pd. of blanch’d almonds pounded small with a spoonful of Orange flower water & half a pound of double-refined sugar 10 yolks of Eggs well beat add the peels of two oranges or Lemons which must be boil’d very tender then beat in a Mortar very fine, then mix them altogether & put in three quarters of a pound of melted butter being almost cold & bake it in good Crust.

And the updated instructions, adapted from the cookbook (can we just mention again how grateful we are to Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye?):

Ingredients & Supplies Needed:
  • Tartlet pan
  • Food processor
  • 1 large orange
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar, plus 1 extra tbs for sprinkling
  • A few drops of orange flower water
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 tbs butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  1. Pare the rind of the orange, taking off the top colored layer only (not the white part as much as possible). Boil them in a small pan of water till soft. Drain.IMG_5469
  2. Pulverize them with some sugar in a food processor.
  3. Put them in a bowl. Add the rest of the sugar and the orange flower water.
  4. Mix in the ground almonds.
  5. Beat the whole eggs and combine with the almond mixture.
  6. Whisk the 2 egg whites until semi-stiff and fold them into the mixture. Chill the mixture till the pastry is ready for filling.
  7. Set the oven to 375 F. Roll out pastry to 1/8 inch. Line the tartlet pan with the pastry and cut apart with a knife.IMG_5478
  8. Prick the bottom of each, and sprinkle with a little sugar.IMG_5482
  9. Fill 3/4 full with almond mixture. Bake for 20 minutes.

Austen, Jane. Emma. 1816. Reprint. New York: Penguin Books, 2015. Print.

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