Follow Me to Tennessee Cookies

cheesecake-xmas-cookies-doneI’ve been waiting to try recipes from The Pear Tree, a cookbook from the Junior League of Knoxville, Tennessee (1977), ever since my daughter and I sped out of Nashville just ahead of a major storm in 2015. The book’s focus on Christmas menus mostly limits it to December. I finally found the right occasion to make Cheesecake Christmas Cookies for my office holiday gathering.

The book, which archaically lists contributors as Mrs. Husband’s Name (Wife’s Name in Parenthesis), promises to “help you over the holiday hurdles and to have an easier, tastier, and happier holiday.” The cookies (which are really more like bars) are billed as “one of the best we’ve tested.” Too much Southern effusiveness? You can’t go too far wrong with any combination of pecans, butter, and cream cheese. The book lists the cookies as part of a New Year’s menu, so if you don’t make them now, save them for next week. Start your diet January 2.

Cheesecake Christmas Cookies (1977)
Makes 16 squares

cheesecake-xmas-cookies-in-pan
For the crust:
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Blend in the flour and pecans to make a crumb mixture. Reserve 1 cup of the mixture for topping.
  3. Press the remainder of the mixture into an 8-inch square baking pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes [until brown on the edges]. Remove from the oven.

To make the topping:

  1. Blend the cream cheese and sugar well. Add the egg, milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat well.
  2. Spread the mixture over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture on top and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. Cool completely and cut into 16 squares. Store in the refrigerator and serve cold.
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About heritagerecipebox

I am named after my great-grandmother, who only prepared two dishes, according to anyone who remembers: hamburgers shaped like squares and peanut butter sandwiches. Fast forward 100 years and 500 miles north from my hometown of Richmond, Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts. Somehow, I ended up with a cooking gene as well as an interest in history and family stories. I have worked as a journalist and published three cookbooks plus a memoir. This blog gives me a chance to share family recipes and stories -- and other American recipes with a past. What do you have to share?
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