Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars

Last time we visited New York, we happened upon Magnolia Bakery. Unfortunately, we opted not to eat any of those amazing sweet treats because we were about an hour away from our dinner reservations. I was not strong enough, however, to walk by without even going inside. It was seriously one of the best smelling places I’ve ever experienced.

I do intend to partake of the famous baked goods from Magnolia one of these days. In the meantime, I continue to enjoy baking from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. This book has so many great-looking recipes that it’s truly difficult to pick one.

I settled on these bars because I was intrigued by the combination of butterscotch and cream cheese. Although these are actually called brownies in the book, I couldn’t bring myself to call them that without any chocolate present. So, I am taking the liberty of renaming them for my purposes.

Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars combine sweet butterscotch with a swirl of cream cheese for an irresistible treat. - Bake or Break

I’m not usually much of a butterscotch fan when it is the primary flavor, but the cream cheese aspect serves to offset its taste. The two flavors work surprisingly well together. I opted to used pecans instead of walnuts. Of all the various things you may see on BoB, walnuts are not likely to be among them. While I will eat them in some baked treats, they are not among the various nuts I keep on hand.

My only issue with these bars is not with the flavor but in their preparation. The swirling was not a simple task because of the thickness of the batter. I did half the recipe, so I suppose something could have been lost in translation.

Strangely enough, the flavor and texture of these bars is reminiscent of chess squares. The butterscotch is not a strong flavor at all. I really liked the flavor and crunch of the pecans. As for the cream cheese, well, I’m always a fan of that. For those of you looking for something a bit different, give these sweet bars a try.

Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 24 3-inch bars

Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars


    For the filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • For the bars:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups butterscotch chips
  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (original recipe uses walnuts)


To make the filling:

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add egg and beat well. Add flour and combine. Set aside.

To make the bars:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 12″x 18″jelly roll pan.

In a medium saucepan, melt butterscotch chips and butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and beat in brown sugar. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, to butterscotch/butter mixture. Add vanilla extract. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat until well combined. Stir in pecans. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Drop the cream cheese filling by teaspoonfuls over the batter. With a small knife, swirl into the batter. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a pick inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool to room temperature before cutting into bars.


Recipe adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.


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  1. Alejandra May 4, 2008 Reply

    You know, I love butterscotch, but I never really find any good recipes that showcase it well. this looks really promising. Look forward to trying it out!

  2. I really enjoy butterscotch, so I know I’d like these. They look absolutely delicious! I have the MB cookbook, but I never get past the cupcakes! I have to try these.

  3. joey May 4, 2008 Reply

    these look absolutely delish ♥ looking at those photos is making me want to go out and try making these right this moment. wonderful! :)

  4. Ashley May 5, 2008 Reply

    Ooo you know I have this cookbook but this recipe never caught my eye. It’s great to see a delicious photo of it. It definitely stands out now!

  5. Silvia - Magnolia May 5, 2008 Reply

    Wow..who better than me can appreciate Magnolia Bakery’s foodies 😛 ( as I am Magnolia Wedding Planner :-P) .
    The butterscotch looks delicious!!
    Really great photos too

  6. grace May 5, 2008 Reply

    even though butterscotch chips are nowhere near as delicious as real butterscotch, i still adore them. if i make these bars, i know two things: first, they won’t be as stunning as yours and secondly, i’ll eat more than my fair share. :)

  7. Shirley May 5, 2008 Reply

    I like the looks of these bars, but I have fallen in love with the chocolate chip muffins.

    My grandson loves muffins for breakfast and his mother gets the store bought ones. I’m going to start making these for him for his breakfast. They will be so much better for him than storebought.

    Love your website.

  8. Amanda May 5, 2008 Reply

    the first picture is amazing. the detail in the top of the bar really pops out. I don’t eat butterscotch normally but these bars might change my tune. I keep holding off on getting that cookbook because I think it might be all hype since the treats that I have gotten there weren’t too amazing but their desserts are so adorable.

  9. auntjone May 5, 2008 Reply

    I’ve had a strong aversion to chocolate the entire 5 months of my pregnancy, so your posts and pictures featuring chocolate have, sadly, made me want to urp. BUT, my sweet tooth for anything non-chocolate is alive and well so I must try the raspberry hazelnut bars, salted cashew cookies and now these butterscotch creamcheese bars. You are truly the devil.

  10. RecipeGirl May 5, 2008 Reply

    I truly need to get more baking cookbooks. I should just follow your posts and simply buy each one that you mention in your blog posts (since I adore all of the recipe choices that you make!!) I’m off to find that Magnolia Bakery book and will add it to my Amazon shopping cart :)

    These look great (as usual) by the way!

  11. Aran May 5, 2008 Reply

    Delicious once again!!! I have this book and I’ve never made this recipe. I need to read it again!!!

  12. I think butterscotch is underrepresented in sweets. This recipe may single-handedly resurrect it! :)

  13. Nan (and Jim) May 5, 2008 Reply

    We loved these! There is not really a “butterscotch” flavor which is great since I’m not a huge butterscotch fan. They really are, as you describe, like chess-squares. They don’t really have a brownie-like texture, so I think you were wise to rename them as you have. You knew you would have me at “cream cheese.”

    We are still enjoying these! Thanks for the treats!!

  14. Hendria May 5, 2008 Reply

    mmmmmm butterscotch……cream cheese….how can you go wrong… :)

  15. jennifer May 5, 2008 Reply

    Alejandra, I hope you enjoy these!

    Susan, Magnolia Bakery is all about the cupcakes, right? I made it to the recipe for these bars because I’d much rather eat cupcakes than make them. 😉

    Thanks, joey!

    Ashley, thanks! Recipes without pictures were an acquired taste for me. 😉

    Silvia, I guess you would know!

    grace, you’re so sweet. I’ve found that if you get the right kind of butterscotch chips, they’re much better than you would expect.

    Thanks, Shirley! Glad y’all like the muffins.

    Amanda, I’ve liked all the recipes I’ve tried from this cookbook. I think it’s a good addition to my library.

    LOL, auntjone! My word of the day is now “urp.” Enjoy the recipes!

    Thanks, RecipeGirl! I think you’ll like the cookbook.

    Aran, I’m sure there are many great recipes in this book that I’ve passed right over. I’d never noticed this recipe until just a few days ago.

    Susan, as far as I’m concerned, you may be right!

    Glad y’all like them, Nan & Jim!

    Hendria, that’s exactly what I thought!

  16. Tartelette May 5, 2008 Reply

    Your bar posts are killing me..with hunger! These are out of this world. To the printer it goes!

  17. Gigi May 5, 2008 Reply

    oooo, drooling all over my lap top! they look divine. must bake soon. :)

  18. tanya May 6, 2008 Reply

    These are so different and I can’t wait to try them. I LOVE this blog!

  19. jennifer May 6, 2008 Reply

    Tartelette, honestly I mean no harm! 😉

    Thanks, Gigi. Hope you enjoy them!

    tanya, thanks so much!

  20. Cakespy May 6, 2008 Reply

    Oh yes!! These look so good–just my favorite type of goodie (aside from cake!)

  21. Kristen May 7, 2008 Reply

    Mmmmmmm… these look so moist and yummy!

  22. Last night I was making a homemade caramel sauce for a dessert, but ran across a butterscotch sauce while thumbing through my cookbook. It sounded wonderful. I haven’t had butterscotch anything in so long, but today I find this recipe, so I’m thinking it must be kismet. (And that’s not counting the fact that I love cream cheese anything – yum!)

  23. Vonda May 7, 2008 Reply

    These look so yummy. This blog is making my diet die.

  24. lori May 7, 2008 Reply

    I’m not much of a cheesecake-anything fan unless it’s just a cheesecake itself; but I could go for these butterscotch cream cheese bars!

  25. jennifer May 8, 2008 Reply

    Thanks, Cakespy!

    Kristen, they were! So, so good.

    Sandie, I’m a bit picky about butterscotch desserts, but this one is really good.

    Sorry, Vonda! I barely hang on to my diet some days.

    Lori, I’ll take cream cheese/cheesecake anything, pretty much. :-)

  26. Ellie May 9, 2008 Reply

    I didn’t have any butterscotch chips, but just made them with chocolate chips, and mmmm…. very yummy.

  27. jennifer May 9, 2008 Reply

    Ellie, I bet they were delicious!

  28. Indigo May 11, 2008 Reply

    I agree that pecans beat walnuts hands down – and these look ridiculously good ^__^. I swear you’re just torturing me on purpose now, you sadist…

  29. jennifer May 11, 2008 Reply

    Indigo, I promise you I’m innocent! :-)

  30. Jodi May 28, 2008 Reply

    I just made these today and they are fabulous. I mixed my cream cheese layer in a little more than just swirling, omitted the nuts, and used a smaller pan (I believe it’s 10.5″ x 15″). I had to bake about 10 extra minutes for the extra thickness. They don’t look as nice as yours do but they taste great! A very nice break from my usual chocoholic baking habits. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  31. jennifer May 28, 2008 Reply

    Jodi, I’m so glad you liked them! I usually have to force myself to take a chocolate break in baking. But it’s just so good!

  32. stella September 10, 2008 Reply

    My stepmother just came back from Chicago, and she brought me some butterscotch chips (definitely not available here in Austria). So, I tried the bars out, and they really taste well. Butterscotch Chips is a total new experience I really like and the combination with cream cheese is interesting.
    Tough I have to say, that the butterscotch flavour was a little bit too much for me, in my opinion, there could be double the cream cheese.
    But I liked them a lot, great recipe!

  33. jennifer September 13, 2008 Reply

    Stella, I’m not a huge butterscotch fan, but I did like these bars. I’m all in favor of more cream cheese! 😉

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