Monday, June 9, 2008

Chess Squares

Another side project I've had this summer has been to reorganize my personal recipe collection. My collection started out as random clippings and hand-written recipes on index cards, stored in a clear index card storage box. I created it the summer before I went to Auburn. The summer before I started at Kentucky, my storage box was out of control and in need of redesigning, so I created a binder. This made me giddy, as I love things organized in binders. You can imagine my elation when I realized that, this summer, my one binder had outgrown itself. My personal recipe collection now spans three whole binders! Binder 1 is appetizers, dips, salads, soups, breads/breakfast items (yes, I have enough appetizer recipes that I have to partition them into actual appetizers and dips). Binder 2 is main courses: beef, poultry, pork, pasta, vegetarian. Binder 3 is desserts: cookies, cakes, brownies, pies, other, and drinks. One of my favorite things to do is peruse the collection, a very organic assortment of things I've jotted down on post-it notes, things printed from, recipes passed on from both grandmothers, and clippings from food magazines and newspapers.

While perusing the other day for a dessert, I came across Momma Charlie's recipe for Chess Squares. Over Christmas, while we were home visiting Aunt Debbie, she shared part of a chess pie with Dave and me, and I had no idea he loved that dessert as much as he did. He thought it was some sort of lemon treat; admittedly, it does taste somewhat lemony though there is no lemon in the filling or crust. After making them, I felt like they oddly resembled Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cakes. I cross checked my recipes and, sure enough, Momma Charlie's is just like Paula's except she only uses one stick of butter instead of two. In my mind, this makes a great "healthy" dessert.

Chess Squares
1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1 8 oz package cream cheese (as always, I use 1/3 less fat), softened
1 16 oz box powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease the bottom of a 9 x 13 cake pan.

In small bowl, combine melted butter, one egg, and cake mix. The batter will be stiff. Spread it out on the bottom of the cake pan. In another bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and remaining 2 eggs with a hand mixer until well incorporated. Pour mixture over the top of the cake crust. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until set. Allow to cool completely before serving. Cut into small squares and enjoy.

These are amazing, and we've been eating on them for 4 days. Store in the refrigerator for maximum freshness.

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