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I am very thankful that I married someone who has family in the south. There are certain things I would have no idea about, such as boiled peanuts, sweet tea, Alabama white sauce, and Chess Squares. Good gracious, Chess Squares. Quite possibly one of the easiest and most decadent recipes I’ve ever made.

If you search for Chess Squares online, you’ll quickly find the recipe is no big Southern secret. Some people call them Texas Gold, others Gooey Butter Cake, but if I had to name them, I would call them Crack Squares. They are so humble looking, but once people try them they are usually knocked off their feet! I made them for my office once and they were probably the most well received dessert I’ve ever made. Reactions are usually something like, “WTF are these?!?”

This is one of those recipes where it may be best if you don’t know what’s in them – I mean, 5 simple ingredients, and (gasp!) a yellow cake mix. But one thing I love about southern cooks is most of them are okay with ridiculously easy, decadent recipes. No reason to be snotty about it or try to fix what isn’t broken. It’s a great gateway baking recipe for kids because it’s so easy. One of these days, I may try a different version of the recipe and see how it is using less powdered sugar. A strawberry cake mix subbing strawberry jam may be a cute idea for Valentine’s Day, as always, stay tuned – we’ll see if I ever get around to that.

Chess Squares
Adapted from this post online, but you can find variations all over the internet
Makes one 9×13 pan, about 24 squares


  • 1 box of Yellow Cake Mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 8 oz of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pound (about 4 cups) powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Mix cake mix, melted butter and one egg to a soft dough. Press into the bottom of the pan.
  3. Using an electric mixer, mix the softened cream cheese and remaining three eggs until smooth, about 1-2 mins. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time and blend until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the cake mixture and smooth to the edges of the pan.
  4. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until top is golden brown.
  5. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and cut into squares. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Great served cold or at room temperature.