These small squares pack a rich, satisfying bite.
Make Ahead: The uncut bars need to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight, to set. The bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Servings: 36 small squares
- For the crust and topping
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- For the filling
- 24 ounces regular cream cheese, at room temperature (do not use low-fat)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the crust and topping: Line the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, pecans, brown sugar and melted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on low speed until well blended. Reserve 2 cups of the mixture (at room temperature) to use as the topping; press the remaining mixture into the prepared pan and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
For the filling: Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on low speed until smooth and creamy. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the speed on low, gradually add the granulated sugar until fully incorporated. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the speed on low, add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition, then add the milk and beat to blend well. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt; beat on low speed just until combined and lightened in color.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the mixture evenly over the chilled crust, then crumble the reserved topping mixture evenly over the filling to create a topping. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the edges are starting to turn golden brown and the top is set. If the topping appears to be browning too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight.
Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.
From Susan Wallace, executive pastry chef of BlackSalt in the Palisades neighborhood of Northwest Washington.
Tested by Madonna Lebling.
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