Book Break with ALAINA CLAIBORNE - Mini Cheesecakes and Excerpt
Updated: Feb 16
Valentine's Day is not a holiday I celebrate, at least not the commercial version we know today. There are so many fun and wonderful things about February 14, but I have always believed that love, or romance, should never be reserved for one special day.
I love to write about love, and even more than that, I appreciate the daily struggles and hard work that go into making relationships work, and every time I meet one of my characters for the first time, I look for the traits within them that will give them the courage, honor, and kindness to find their best match.
This delicious and simple recipe for mini cheesecakes comes from Natasha's Kitchen. My family is mad for cheesecake and have made a variety of wonderful recipes—even creating a few of our own—but this delightful (and remember, simple) recipe is great for any occasion.
Did You Know? Cheesecakes can be dated back to ancient Greece, and later the Romans adapted it. A cookbook from the mid 16th century (when Henry VIII commissioned the publication of the first-ever cookbook in 1545) has an interesting recipe for a cheesecake: "To make a tarte of Chese – Take harde Chese and cutte it in slyces,and pare it, than laye it in fayre water, or in swete mylke, the space of three houres, then take it up and breake it in a morter tyll it be small, than drawe it up thorowe a strainer with the yolkes of syxe egges, and season it wyth suger and swete butter, and so bake it." (What's Cooking America)
Say any of that five times fast.
Of course, what the Greeks ate, and even the Tudors for that matter, is not what we typically call cheesecake today. One has to consider the variety of cheeses, binders, crusts, and other ingredients available throughout the centuries.
Did the Victorians have cheesecake? You bet. Alaina and Tristian, along with with their British Agent friends, would have enjoyed a type of cheesecake. Soft cream cheese, which is what is commonly used today, was not mass produced until 1873 by William A. Lawrence, a farmer in upstate New York. In the UK, you're likely to hear the term, "soft white cheese."
I've read over a few of the Victorian-era cheesecakes, and none of them looked as appetizing as a soft and creamy New York-style cheesecake, which is why I'm not sharing one of those today.
Cheesecake and sweet treats aside, Valentine's Day as we know it is all about romance, love, and happily-ever-afters, unlike the dark, murderous origins. Men like Shakespeare romanticized it in their work until it became popular in Britain and throughout Europe. It eventually traveled to the New World where it morphed into the greeting-card holiday we celebrate today.
However, when it comes to love, sometimes a person has to go through a lot of heartache to find their happy ending, just like Alaina did—with or without a handmade card.
Enjoy an excerpt from Alaina Claiborne
(This excerpt is part a scene between Alaina shares with Braden, a childhood friend she lost, but has never forgotten.)
"I told you I've been with you. I always will be, Alaina, but not in the way I wanted. There is someone else in your life now who can take care of you."
"Why now? Why wait all of these years?"
"It was time. You needed him in your life before I could give you this."
"I don't think I understand."
"Braden, I miss you so much. I miss Mama and Papa."
"They miss you too, Alaina, and we all love you so much."
"I'll find the man who did this to us."
"That is what I fear most, but it must be done. Just remember to not let go."
"Let go of what?"
"Never let go of him. He is yours now. Forever."
"Not forever, Braden."
"Open yourself to him. We want you to find peace."
"I don't know how."
"You will. He will help you, and you will help him."
"It's time for you to hold on to another. I will always love you."
Alaina woke to a cold room because the fire had never been lit, but her hand wiped away the sweat on her forehead. Sometime in the night, she had thrown the covers off. Breathing deeply, she sat on the edge of the bed. The tears she had accumulated over the years fell down her cheeks. She let them come until they lulled her into a deep and peaceful sleep, while she muttered aloud, "I will always love you."
Excerpt © MK McClintock
I hope you make time every now and then to escape into a good book and relax.
The Book: Alaina Claiborne, book one in the British Agent series
The Beverage: Thistle Tea from Edinburgh Tea & Coffee Company
From the Kitchen: Mini Cheesecakes (recipe at Natasha's Kitchen).
Notes from MK's Kitchen:
The recipe (link below) is super easy, but don't let the "caramel sauce" part limit your imagination. As you can see, we've used caramel, cherry, and strawberry. They're good with blueberries, too.
The kitchen recommends adding a teaspoon or two of lemon (depending on how strong you want it) when making the fruit varieties.
For an extra punch of flavor, the kitchen recommends a teaspoon of almond extract (per recipe) for the caramel version.
Thank you for visiting!
Be well, be kind, and stay safe!
About Writer in the Kitchen: I love to be in the kitchen. Once upon a time I was going to be a pastry chef, and though my life took a different path (glad it did), my love for baking and cooking has never gone away. I share original and test-kitchen recipes, (sometimes with book breaks) and you can always find recipe links and posts organized on my recipes page.