You may recognize these treats from childhood potlucks in your church basement or from family reunions with people you didn’t really know. And unless your mom shared the recipe with you, the secret layers in these marshmallow chocolate cream cheese bars have long been revealed only to those who bake them.
Each bite holds four layers of cake-like brownies, sweet cream cheese, chewy chocolate, salty pecans, sticky marshmallows, and soft, almost flaky, chocolate vanilla frosting. You will wear a path in the floor to the refrigerator.
Prepare yourself — you’ll use three mixing bowls, a small bowl, and a saucepan to make these bars. But trust me. I would never steer you down a dishwashing path if it weren’t absolutely, without a chocolate doubt, worth every squirt of dish soap.
Marshmallow chocolate cream cheese bars
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (do not substitute margarine)
1 cup sugar
1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened chocolate, melted and set aside to cool slightly
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup pecan pieces or chopped pecans
Cream cheese layer:
6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup butter, softened (do not substitute margarine)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup pecan pieces or chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup butter
2 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, melted chocolate, and vanilla; mix well on medium speed. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Gently stir into chocolate mixture. Fold in the pecans. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 pan and spread evenly.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and beat until well combined. Beat in the sugar, egg, flour, and vanilla until creamy. Fold in the pecans. Spread evenly over the chocolate layer. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cream cheese layer and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. Edges will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake or the brownie layer will be dry.
Remove the baking pan from the oven. Sprinkle the marshmallows over the chocolate chips. Bake another 2 minutes or until the marshmallows become puffed. Remove from oven. Gently spread the marshmallows over the layer of chocolate chips. Cool on a wire rack.
In a small saucepan over low heat, cook and stir the butter, cream cheese, unsweetened chocolate and milk. Slowly melt and stir until smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add one cup of powdered sugar at a time, beating after each cup. Beat in vanilla. Spread over the cooled bars. Store in the refrigerator.
Makes 2 to 3 dozen, depending on how large you cut them.