Chocolate Chess Squares

As many of you can attest, I’ve been up to my elbows in cookie dough for several days. Taking a bit of a detour today, these squares pack a big sweet punch!

A classic Southern recipe, chess squares pop up all year round, not just for the holidays. Simple to make and wonderful to eat, they are a great way to make a sweet impact on a time budget. It’s not that often that I use a cake mix, but let me introduce you to a good argument for them.

Chocolate Chess Squares combine chocolate and cream cheese in an irresistible dessert!

I shared the traditional recipe for these bars with you when BoB was just a baby. That recipe uses a yellow cake mix and really emphasizes the flavor of the cream cheese. The chocolate version uses a chocolate cake mix and cuts back on the cream cheese. The result is reminiscent of a cream cheese brownie. Chocolate is the predominant flavor, with a thin layer of cream cheese and sugar on top.

Quinn is a big fan of the chocolate version of these. I can’t really say that I like one version of these better than the other. As easy as they are to make, though, you can whip up either or both.

Chocolate Chess Squares

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 24 2-inch bars

Chocolate Chess Squares


  • 1 (18.25-ounce) package chocolate cake mix
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces confectioners’ sugar, sifted


Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine cake mix, 1 egg, butter, and pecans until dry ingredients are moistened. Press into a sprayed/greased 13″x9″x2″ pan.

Combine cream cheese, 2 eggs, vanilla, and 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar. Beat until blended, then gradually add remaining confectioners’ sugar. Beat until smooth. Pour over chocolate layer and spread evenly.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares when cooled.


Recipe adapted from Southern Living.

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  1. Tartelette December 7, 2007 Reply

    Jennifer stop!!! I don’t know which one to try next!!! I made the cream cheese muffins the other day of a brunch and they were gone in no time flat! So good!
    If my Southern husband sees these squares, I’ll have to make a detour of my own in my baking schedule. Yummm!!!

  2. jennifer December 9, 2007 Reply

    Sorry! I’ll be finished at some point, maybe January. I’m glad you liked the muffins. They’re one of my favorites.

  3. deobrah April 1, 2010 Reply

    try using strawberry cream cheese instead of regular they are delightful.

  4. Emily November 17, 2011 Reply

    These squares have been a hit both at company potlucks and with family the past two holiday seasons. Thank you so much for sharing your love of cooking. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go stuff my face with a freshly made batch…taste test, of course.

  5. Kendra November 30, 2011 Reply

    can u use brownie as the bottom of chess squares or will it over cook before top layet is done?

    • jennifer December 2, 2011 Reply

      Kendra, pre-baked brownies would most likely not be a good option. If you’re looking to make something similar using brownies, you might check out these Cheesecake Brownies.

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