There truly is nothing like this recipe. You’d have to combine a thick slab of blondies with a chess pie/gooey butter cake/cheesecake to full understand the flavor profile of this dessert. To be honest I’m still not even sure that the name suits it. Regardless, warm or cold…this dessert is rockin’ and should be on your must-try list – immediately.
At our New Years Eve party, my aunt had made what she was calling Neiman Marcus Brownies for our shindig. She is awesome at taking cake mixes and turning them into something super delicious, so it was no surprise she did it yet again. Yet ever since that party, I couldn’t get the tastes of it removed from my memory. It was so good, and I’m sad I didn’t enjoy more of it at the time. Upon googling and looking on Pinterest, this recipe has been reenacted many a times. I decided that I needed my own version, preferably one made from scratch where I could let my ingredients do the recipe complete and utter justice.
It’s a two layer dessert. The bottom takes like a yellow cake, but is more dense like a blondie would be. The topping starts off looking like a cheesecake batter, but morphs into a thick layer that resembles the uppermost layer of gooey butter cake, yet with a taste similar to chess pie and a thin crackled top. Once you make it, you’ll understand.
After countless times now to perfect it for you, I have a few pieces of wisdom to impart. The pan makes a huge difference. You have to use something that is not only deep, but retains even heat. You’re cooking it low and slow to create the definitive layers. If possible, using a glass 9 x 13″ baking dish works best. The batter will barely go up the pan halfway, but will absolutely double in size as it bakes.
The next piece of wisdom is to not halve anything, topping or base. When I made a double batch I didn’t want it to overflow, so I halved the topping. It did not taste even remotely the same as the original. The cake part was super thick and the topping was chewy. I then tried just the opposite, to halve the base. Not only did the lack of base not support the topping, but it was just too gooey. Just stick with the ratios below, and if you have to, halve the whole thing.
Lastly, you can and should experiment with flavors. Try swapping out some of the flour for cocoa. Add in pecans, and even consider adding in butter rum extract for some of the vanilla. Make it your own, it’ll be good.
I do hope you enjoy this new riff on a favorite box cake dessert.
To full plates and eating your tarte out,
- 2 1/2 sticks of butter, room temperature and divided
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 5 eggs, divided
- 2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups of flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
- 3 cups of confectioners sugar
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a glass 9 x 13" baking dish and set aside.
- Combine together 1 1/2 sticks of butter with the sugar and brown sugar. Cream for 3-5 minutes. Add in three eggs and mix till thoroughly combined. Add in flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, baking powder and salt. Stir till just combined. Press into an even layer in your baking dish.
- In another bowl, beat together remaining 1 stick of butter and cream cheese till no lumps are present. Add in the eggs one at a time until mixed in completely. Add in your remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla. and mix again. Finally, add in your confectioners sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Pour batter over the base layer.
- Bake for one hour, or until cake is puffed up and lightly golden on top. Remove and allow to cool for 45 minutes before serving. Can be served slightly warm or completely chilled. Store any leftovers in the fridge.
- It is important to use a deep baking dish as the batter will double on you in size.
- Feel free to experiment a bit with flavors, adding scraped vanilla beans instead of vanilla, swapping out some of the flour for cocoa, adding in pecans to the base, or even consider adding in butter rum extract for some of the vanilla.