Where I live, the chess square is a ubiquitous dessert. These sinful bars start with a dense, chewy base created from a cake mix that is topped with an ooey gooey baked cream cheese mixture.
Oh yeah, about that gooey part? Depending on where you live, you may know this dessert by its other name, the gooey butter cake. The classic version uses a yellow or butter cake mix and a plain sweet cream cheese layer on top. I wanted to put a little spin on the original version by incorporating one of my very favorite cakes - carrot cake!
This version begins much the same way, but instead of a butter or yellow cake mix, I'm using a Duncan Hines Decadent Carrot Cake Mix (not sponsored and no affiliation with the brand - I just chose this cake mix because it has a separate pouch of carrots and raisins that works well for this recipe).
Next comes the cream cheese, egg, and powdered sugar layer with the carrot and raisins from the mix added in as well. I love real carrot cakes with chopped walnuts, so I tossed some of those on top to finish things off.
The whole thing gets baked for close to an hour at a relatively low heat until the top begins to turn golden brown. Though it smells like spicy, nutty, buttery heaven at this point, it will need to cool and set before you try to cut it into squares.
Of course, if you don't mind that things aren't neat or pretty, go ahead and spoon some out and eat it warm.
The chewy cake crust, the ooey gooey cream cheese filling, and the slightly crispy crust on top, all of the classic features of a basic chess square remain intact with the added flavors of spice cake, carrots, raisins, and walnuts.
These would be perfect for a potluck, tailgate, or even your family holiday gatherings. You won't have to worry about leftovers, because trust me, there won't be anything left but crumbs.
Chess squares, gooey butter bake, whatever you call this type of dessert, try it once and you'll be hooked for life.Print
Carrot Cake Chess Squares
- Total Time: 55 mins
- Yield: 20-22 squares 1x
- Duncan Hines Decadent Carrot Cake Mix
- 1 ¼ cups hot water
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- 1 box (8oz) cream cheese, softened
- 3 eggs
- 4 cups (16oz) powdered sugar
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 300F
- Prepare a 9x13 baking dish by coating the bottom and sides with butter, shortening, or non-stick cooking spray.
- In a bowl, add the carrot and raisin pouch from cake mix to the 1 ¼ cups of hot water and let stand for 5 minutes.
- In another bowl, combine the cake mix, butter, and one egg to form a dough.
- Press the dough into the bottom of the baking dish.
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, combine the powdered sugar, cream cheese, and remaining eggs until smooth.
- Strain extra liquid out of the carrot and raisins and fold into the cream cheese mixture.
- Pour cream cheese mixture over dough and top with chopped walnuts.
- Bake on center rack 45-55 minutes or until crust begins to turn golden.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 50 mins
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