If you ask me, a baked good had better be great to get away with an exceedingly unappetizing name like Smearcase.
And happily, it is—this little-known Baltimore specialty, introduced to me by Rachel Rappaport of Coconut & Lime, is sort of like a thinner-crusted cousin to the pride of St. Louis known as Gooey Butter Cake. A dense, cakey crust encases a big ol' smear of gooey cream cheese-based custard filling; when sliced into squares, it's sort of like cheesecake condensed into a bar cookie form.
Note: While not strictly traditional, I added a handful of lightly roasted walnuts to the top of my Smearcase, with delicious results.
Recipe lightly adapted from the version found on Coconut & Lime.
- For the crust:
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- For the filling:
- 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 12 ounces evaporated milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- Ground cinnamon, for the top (optional)
- 1/2 cup nuts such as walnuts or pecans, for the top (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Have a 9-by-13-inch ungreased pan at hand.
Make the crust: Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Add the oil and eggs; beat on low speed for a few minutes until a dough forms (closer to a dough than a cake batter). Press into the pan, spreading it evenly over the bottom and at least halfway up the sides.
For the filling: Combine the cream cheese and sugar in a separate (or cleaned) bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium-low speed for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, then add the flour, evaporated milk, vanilla extract and eggs. Mix until smooth; the batter will be quite thin.
Pour the filling over the crust in the pan and sprinkle with cinnamon and nuts, if desired. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the fillilng is slightly puffed and set. The cake should not brown.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Use a clean, dry and hot knife to cut the cake into 24 equal squares, cleaning the knife between cuts.