This is another recipe from another Oklahoma friend. (Good friends and good cooks, all of them!) Dana made this for a progressive dinner at the holidays many years ago, and it was love at first bite. I have lost her original recipe but not the memory of what it tasted like, and I’ve tried many times to re-create it – this comes pretty close, I think. Or maybe it’s totally different and she’ll see this and l send me the real recipe and then I can make them both. Either way, we all win, right?
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup slightly softened butter
1 cup flour, sifted
1/3 cup finely chopped nuts (I like pecans, but walnuts are good too)
3, 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened (you can substitute some or all low-fat or no-fat cream cheese)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
8 tablespoons buttermilk (or 7 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half or milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
Preheat oven to 350. Line 9×13 pan with parchment paper (you can serve from the pan, but this makes it easy to lift them out and cut them into squares for serving.)
In a bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add flour and work in well. Add chopped nuts and blend; press into bottom of pan and bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool slightly.
For filling, beat cream cheese and slowly add sugar until it’s blended in. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla and buttermilk or cream/milk and lemon juice and mix well. Pour over crust and bake for 25 minutes – do not overbake; you want the filling to remain creamy and moist. Let cool completely and cut into squares. Makes 18 cookie-size servings or 36 bite-size squares.
I like serving these with slightly sweetened fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or cherries), or set out a DIY topping bar with an array of sauces (chocolate and caramel are good), plus fruit and whipped toppings.