I’m so excited to share this recipe for Gooey Butter Bars Without Cake Mix with you. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe these creamy, sweet, buttery little bars go by a few names (Chess Pie Squares, Neiman Marcus Bars), depending on the region you are from. What I love about this particular recipe is that it is entirely from scratch, without the use of a boxed yellow cake mix. Even so, they are still very easy to make, just without the artificial butter flavoring. REAL butter always wins in my book.
It comes as no surprise to me that the last three recipes I’ve posted have the word BUTTER in the title. See Kentucky Butter Cake and Butter Pecan Chicken… My lovely little kitchen actually is quite buttery, so this is very appropriate. I feel a tiny bit panicked when my butter supply gets down to only one or two bars left!
I tried to take a picture of these beauties up close and personal so that you could see that there are three distinct layers. The bottom layer thick soft cake that gradually melts into the middle layer, which is sweet, creamy, and almost custard-like. On the very top, there is a very thin, golden brown crisp meringue layer that is very similar to the crackly layer that forms on top of a good brownie recipe.
The powdered sugar dusting is optional, and
You can also freeze them – in fact, I highly recommend it. They cut into tidy little squares when they are well chilled, and I prefer eating them straight out of the freezer. Around midnight. When no one is looking.
I’m so glad I have friends like you to share my buttery recipes with. Thanks for being as excited about them as I am.
This Gooey Butter Bar recipe is pure gold! Go make them and please do think of me when you are magically drawn to sneak a bite from your freezer stash around midnight.
Did you make this recipe?
Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #lovelylittlekitchen
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- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 4 eggs, divided
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 16 ounces powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 by 13 inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper. Leave the excess slightly hanging over two of the opposing edges so that the bars will lift out easily once they are baked and cooled. Spray with nonstick baking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat sugar, butter, vanilla and almond extract and one egg together on medium high speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low, and gradually add in the flour mixture, along with the milk, until just combined and a soft dough is formed. Press the dough into the bottom of the baking dish.
- Wash out the mixing bowl, and then add cream cheese. Beat on medium high speed, adding the remaining three eggs one at a time, mixing well in between. Turn the mixing speed to low, and slowly add the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture over the dough, spreading it to the edges evenly.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes on the center rack of the oven, or until the top is golden brown.
- Cool completely at room temperature, or freeze until well chilled. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan and then cut into 24 squares. I prefer to eat these cold, but they are delicious at room temperature as well.
*This recipe is adapted from this recipe for Chess Pie Squares.