Creme Brûlée Bars
While meal planning for our yearly family vacay at the lake, I began daydreaming about dessert possibilities. I knew right off the bat I would be making these Cheesecake-filled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars ((and they were SO good)). But I was torn over the next dessert – Table Rock in July needs White Texas Sheet Cake – and I would have DEFINITELY made it for my second dessert, but my sis-in-law, Marcy made it for her night ((yay — my whole family LOVES this cake!! We scarfed it down quick)).
Once I knew we would not miss out on White Texas Sheet Cake perfection, I decided to try a new recipe out on our clan: Ooey Gooey ((OG)) Butter Bars. They are pretty perfect. I.can’t.stop.eating.them. The tang of the cream cheese, the buttery cake mix crust, the thin crispy sugar top?!? Heaven.
Side note — “Say Yes to the Dress”. Don’t you just love that show?? My boys will scream if they knew I was sharing this, but they LOVE it! We can lay on my bed, snuggled for HOURS watching episode after episode. I mean — they LOVE it. Our favorite part is when it’s time for the bride to get “jacked up”. ((Um, can someone PLEASE jack me up??))
Moving on to the recipe — we are “jacking up” the original OG bar!!! Oh yeah, time for Ooey Gooey Butter Bars to walk down the aisle. I combined the yummy wedding cake flavors from my favorite almond sheet cake recipe with the ooey gooey buttery perfection of the OG bars. Yes – you heard me right, I jacked up the ooey gooey bars.
A traditional OG bar starts off with a box of yellow cake mix. I definitely prefer making my own cake mix so that is precisely what I did ((see — jacking them up!!)). Since I am serving such a crowd, I used a double batch of my dry cake mix.
To the well blended homemade cake mix, I added melted butter & eggs. These are standard add-ons for the OG bar crust. Then, in true jacking up spirit, I added in a few teaspoons of vanilla & almond extract.
I gave it all a good stir.
After a little effort, it turned into the most yummy crust for my dream OG bars.
I pressed the cake mix crust into the bottom of a parchment lined and sprayed 11″ x 17″ jelly roll pan.
And promptly moved on to the ooey, gooey part. I followed the traditional list of MVI’s ((most valuable ingredients)):
- cream cheese
- powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
I also added vanilla and almond extract in a 1:2 ratio. Two teaspoons of vanilla to four teaspoons of almond extract seems to achieve that PERFECT wedding cake flavor I love so much. I know it is a simple twist – but sigh. The smell as it was baking let me know I hit the nail on the head. Well, that is until the OG bars overflowed from my pan and started burning. ((DREAD))
That little lesson taught me an important tip for making this recipe: When using an 11″ x 17″ jelly roll pan, it is okay to double the cake mix crust BUT the filling should be made only 75% bigger. Ain’t nobody got time for ooey gooey cake to overflow and burn.
Once baking was finished, I evened up the edges that had overflowed ((and cleaned the oven)). I quickly knew I had something great. ((The recipe card, below, reflects the proper amounts. So you won’t need to worry about over flow!))
After cooling, the OG cake fell, just like it’s supposed to. The result? A twist, yes a surprisingly unexpected twist. You see, these OG bars got SO beautifully jacked up that us Schuermann ladies decided they needed to be put into a whole new dessert category.
The top of the bar is delightfully crisp – and yes, you can actually hear that magical cracking sound as you bite into them. Immediately past this crisp shell, you will be clicking your heels at the texture & taste of the creamy, sweet & buttery custard-like center.
Then, on to the crust. The crust is as much of a surprise as anything. I am amazed at what a difference the homemade cake mix crust is compared to the boxed cake mix crust. The butter and cane sugar do something amazing while in the oven – they caramelize! The result is a crisp & chewy, every so slightly salty, caramel-flavored crust.
All three layers trigger creme brûlée thoughts – it is crazy and spectacular. It wasn’t what I expected and us girls were clapping over the delightful yumminess. Marcy was commenting on just how very good they were, perfect salt balance, wonderful crust, superb custard-like filling and the wonderful sugary crack as you bite through the bar, when she exclaimed “you should name them Creme Brûlée Bars! These are much more than an OOey Gooey Bar, these are amazing. They remind me exactly of Creme Brûlée!”.
And folks, Marcy lived in France – so she is a Creme Brûlée expert!
Now, before you start telling me how they are not creme brûlée-ish because they are missing the sugary topping & a blow torch, just give me the benefit of the doubt and try them yourself.
And as a little present for trying this recipe, I will share a secret about eating these bars. You don’t need to tell anyone, just consider it “privileged information” – reserved for the baker. The corners – are – the – very – best – part. Make the recipe & tell me if you agree.
- 4 1/2 c all purpose flour
- 3 c fine granulated pure cane sugar (baking sugar)
- 4 1/2 t baking powder
- 2 t sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 sticks butter, melted ((I prefer salted))
- 2 t vanilla
- 2 t almond extract
- 1 3/4 blocks of cream cheese, softened ((14 oz total))
- 3 eggs
- 14 T butter, melted ((I always use salted))
- 1/2 t salt
- 2 t vanilla
- 3 t almond extract
- 1 3/4 lbs ((about 7 cups)) powdered sugar ((I prefer pure cane))
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 11" x 17" ((11 cup capacity)) jelly roll style baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry cake mix ingredients by sifting together. Using a stand, or hand mixer, combine dry ingredients with the eggs, butter. & extracts. This will form a crumbly, dry dough. Evenly press the dough into the bottom of the baking sheet.
- It is okay to use the same bowl for the filling - so don't go to the trouble to clean your mixing bowl.
- Combine all of the filling ingredients in the large mixing bowl and beat on low speed, increasing to high speed for 2 - 3 minutes, scraping the sides to ensure even mixing.
- Pour the filling on top of the cake mix crust and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges are set and the top is a crisp, light golden brown.
- Remove from oven when baking is complete and allow to cool for 1 hour before serving**.
- Makes between 30 &35 bars depending on the bar size.
- *This makes a double batch -- which I used to serve about 30 people. If you want to make a smaller amount, simply half the ingredients and bake these bars in an 8" x 8" pan.
- **I made this recipe ahead and froze it. It worked great - so if you need a good make ahead dessert, try this one. Just allow the bars to cool in the pan, the wrap with foil and plastic wrap before freezing. It should be fine to freeze for a few weeks. I wouldn't freeze much longer for fear the bars will absorb the freezer flavors ((eww)).