Jan 16, 2010

Saturdays in the Kitchen: Southern Chess Bars

Today I'm going to share a recipe that I got from one of my dearest friends, Brenda, that was passed down from her mother, a wonderfully crazy South Carolina woman. Shirley used to make this delicious dessert bar every year during the holiday season. Now that Shirley is no longer with us, Brenda has taken over the tradition. I made it the other day and it was so good, I thought I'd pass it along.
(Not a great picture, but at least you can tell what they look like!)
Chess Bars are a sweet, rich southern pastry, sometimes called Chess Pie or Chess Cake. They are so simple and quick to make yet they pack a lot of flavor and literally melt in your mouth. There seems to be a lot of speculation about the name Chess Bar. Some food historians think the word 'chess' is actually derived from the word 'cheese'. Chess Pie has an ancient tradition of puddings and pastries with the rich mixture of cheese. The Chess Bars are made with eggs and cream cheese, also making a custard-like filling.

Here is the recipe:

Southern Chess Bars

1 Boxed butter yellow cake mix
1 Egg
1 Stick of butter (softened)
1/2 chopped pecans (optional)
1 Box Confectioner Sugar
3 eggs
8 oz cream cheese (at room temp)

In large mixing bowl mix cake mix, 1 egg and butter. Mix well until combined. Spread and pat dough into bottom of 13 x 9 pan. At this point, you could add the pecans if desired. In same bowl, mix confectioner sugar, eggs and cream cheese until blended well. Pour mixture over crust and smooth out any bubbles. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting. They taste great with a cup of hot coffee!

OK, I realize that its the beginning of a new year and everyone wants to lose those holiday pounds and here I've gone and given you a delicious and not-so-fat-free dessert recipe. So, to make up for it, here's a link that I found on the Southern Living website. It's their Healthy and Light page. On there, you can find several ideas and recipes perfect for eating lighter foods and less calories. One section that caught my eye is the Ladie's Luncheon. There are twenty light recipes to try, like Chunky Chicken Barley Soup. This soup is full of flavor and only has 208 calories and 3.9 grams of fat per serving. I am a big soup fan so I'll be making this one for sure.

Thanks for coming and visiting today and I do hope you get the chance to try these wonderful Chess Bars and if you do, please let me know how you liked them. See you next Saturday in the kitchen!

By the way, today is the first time I'm participating in Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking Series, so pop on over and check out all of the great food-related items being featured on the blogs today! If you're a chocolate lover, you should definitely check it out - remember, Valentine's Day will be here before you know it! (hint, hint)


  1. Great recipe! I have a strong desire to cook but not enough will to actually spend time doing it...lol

    My blog is hosting a Free Books January, if you are planning on giving away a book this month, please feel free to enter a link there, or if you are interested in getting free books, you can go there check out the links too:


  2. hmmm, let's see: yummy looking chess bars versus barley soup. There's a tough one! LOLOL

  3. I know exactly what those are - around here we do call it chess pie. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. That looks really good. In fact, I'm drinking my coffee right now so I would love a chess bar right now!! Thanks for the other links!!

  5. Welcome to Weekend Cooking!

    I have never had Chess Pie..Bars..or Cake. But as I sit here and drink my tea this morning, I sure wish I had some!

  6. I've heard of chess pie/bars but have never had them. It sounds delicious and easy to make. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  7. We call it chess pie too and I love it!! Great recipe, thanks for sharing it, and the story. It's great how food can bring back to us the ones we love.

  8. Welcome to Weekend Cooking!

    I've heard of chess pie before, but I've never seen it or eaten it. These bars look amazing and so easy.

  9. Never heard of this recipe before, but will be printing it out to try with my son. Thanks.

  10. forgot to ask how many cups of sugar would that be? ours comes in large bags.

  11. The only time I've ever had Chess Pie was when someone made it for Friday treat time at work several years ago. I thought I'd grabbed a copy of the recipe but I have no idea what I did with it. Thanks for sharing this one.

  12. This sounds very good. I'm going to save the recipe, it would be perfect for a book club dessert after discussing a southern fiction novel! It reminds me a bit of Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey butter cake (I think that's the recipe) that a friend made at book club a few months ago. I'm trying to eat healthier and will check those links out, thanksZ Lisa!

  13. These look so very yummy. I had heard of Chess Pie but thought it would look more pie-ish! I wish I had a cake mix in the house because I would jump right up and make some of these. I will definitely need to try them out soon. Maybe I can take a batch to work on Tuesday? Thanks for sharing. Today was my first time to participate in Weekend Cooking too!

  14. Awesome recipe! These sound great. I'm ok with not so fat free once in a while.

  15. I love chess pie, and I'm definitely going to try this variation. Glad you're participating...I missed this week, but I love this meme.


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I look forward to hearing from you again soon!