Thursday, December 16, 2010

Charleston Cheesecake Bars

We are in cookie overload right now--not that there's anything wrong with that. I have about four containers of cookies sitting on the counter, and I have cookie dough in the fridge. There's snow predicted for tomorrow, and the impending chaos that comes with it, and what did I get on my trip to the store? Flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. We must not have a baking crisis!

I have been bringing cookies to every possible event. I send cookies with the girls and Sami whenever there's the least occasion. I give cookies as tips. Just now, the postman came with a package, and after I buzzed him up, I quickly made a package of cookies.

These were a favorite. I brought them to a coffee, and they were appreciated there; I gave them to one of Claire's teachers, and I hope she likes them. And of course the family tried to eat as many as possible before I could give them all away.

This is a really great recipe in that it combines two really great dessert items: streusel and cheesecake.

The cheesecake is creamy and lemony; the streusel is crunchy and buttery.

And you eat it in bite-sized portions so it doesn't seem quite so decadent.

Here's the recipe. Make it when you want a cookie for dessert, or a dessert as a cookie.

Charleston Cheesecake Bars

1/2 c. (4 oz.) butter
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. (3.5 oz.) brown sugar
1 c. (4 oz.) sifted flour
1/2 c. (2 oz.) toasted pecans, chopped
1 c. (2.8 oz.) quick or normal oats

Heat the oven to 350; line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil or parchment. If you're using foil, grease it.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, cinnamon, and salt until soft; add the sugar and beat another minute or until light and well mixed. On low speed or by hand, mix in the flour, pecans, and oats. Set aside one cup of this mixture for later; pat the rest into the prepared baking pan and bake for 15 minutes. While it's baking, make the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. (3.5 oz.) sugar
1 egg
2 T. (1 oz.) sour cream
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 T. lemon juice

You can use the same mixing bowl that you just used for the crust. Put the cream cheese in there and beat until soft. Beat in the sugar, egg, and sour cream just until smooth. Stir in the lemon rind and juice.
Pour the cheese mixture over the baked crust and sprinkle the reserved streusel over that. Press the streusel to make it even and keep it firmly attached to the filling. Put the dish back in the oven and let it bake for 25 minutes, or until the topping is nice and golden brown. Cool this completely at room temperature and then either freeze it for an hour or chill it overnight. Remove from the pan, cut it into squares, and put it back in the refrigerator: these are best cold. Enjoy giving or keeping these.

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