Thursday, July 2, 2009

Old-Fashioned Southern-Style Cheese Cakes

Beat until very light the yolks of twelve eggs with a pound of sugar, add to them a tablespoonful cornstarch, then three-quarters of a pound of butter, washed and creamed. Add also the strained juice of two lemons, a teaspoonful lemon essence and a teaspoonful vanilla. Set over boiling water and stir until all ingredients blend—only thus can you dissolve granulated sugar, which is best to use, lacking the old-fashioned live open-kettle brown. Keep over the hot water, stirring well together as you fill the tart shells. They must be lined with real puff paste, rolled very thin, and nicely fitted. Set in broad shallow pans, after filling with the batter and bake in a quick, but not scorching oven. A blanched almond, or bit of citron, or half a pecan or walnut meat, may be put in each shell before filling.

I prefer though to add such frills by help of the frosting. To make it, beat six egg-whites with a pinch of salt until they stick to the dish, add to them a little at a time, three cups granulated sugar boiled with a cup and a half of water, till it spins a thread. Keep the syrup boiling while adding it. When it is all in, set the pan of frosting over boiling water, add six drops lemon juice and beat until stiff enough to hold shape. It must not touch the water, but have plenty of steam rising underneath. Frost the tarts rather thickly, and stick either a shred of citron, a quarter of Maraschino cherry, or half a nut in the middle. If you like cocoanut flavor, strew freshly grated cocoanut over while the frosting is soft—it ought to harden inside half an hour. Tiny pink or green comfits stuck in the middle, or set in threes triangularly, are very decorative. Indeed, there is no limit but taste and invention to the manners of making beautiful these tarts.

From "Dishes and Beverages of the Old South, by Martha McCulloch Williams, 1913

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