08 September 2010

Kitchen Confessions - Chess Squares



Cake Mix Questions

Sometimes I get the idea that using a prepackaged cake mix is considered anathema to food blogging integrity. Not every food blogger is apologetic about using mixes but there are many who are. As a whole we seem convinced that prepackaged mixes are inherently poor choices, at least nutritionally, if not morally, speaking.


I guess I kind of agree. Kind of....


I know that it is almost as easy to make most things without a mix. It is also generally less expensive and employs fewer preservatives. Making things from scratch allows me more control over the ingredients.

Still…..


Family Favorites

What is the right thing to do when my husband asks me to make Chess Squares? This is a recipe given to me by his mother. Chess Squares have been loved by the family for decades and have been served at many family events. I remember eating them at receptions, showers and summer barbecues. They are a tradition in the family, an easy recipe made with only five ingredients, one of which is a box of yellow cake mix.


So, when my husband suggests that I make these, what should I do? Should I laugh? Refuse? Make up a new and “improved” version without a cake mix? Or should I simply give the man what he wants?


Understanding the relationships involved, I made the Chess Squares following the recipe as written.



To Blog or Not To Blog?

But then I wondered – should I blog about making these or not?


Obviously, I ended up thinking, "Yes!" Chess Squares are a family favorite and many of the recipes I post are here because my family wants the recipe. Honestly, they are not too worried about the integrity of my cooking ethic or whether or not the recipes I use cut corners and include ingredients of convenience. If it tastes good to them they'll eat it. Besides, at college my children don't always have a pantry full of staples and there are times when a recipe based on a cake mix is much easier for them to handle and still more economical than buying snacks on the go.


I don’t use mixes all that often in my own kitchen but I don’t know why I should feel bad about using them when I do. Sometimes they even add a special quality to a recipe that is valuable. When I bake shaped birthday cakes I often use a pound cake recipe based on a boxed cake mix because of how well it holds together for carving and shaping. I also use that recipe because it tastes really good.


Cake Mix Confessions

And then there is the Pumpkin Praline Cake I make almost every fall that starts with a cake mix. It is easy delicious and has an awesome praline topping. I can confidently make it in no time when providing a meal or attending a potluck.


Normally I would make scones from scratch but last weekend I noticed that I had a scone mix in my pantry. The boys were hungry so I decided to give it a try. I added cinnamon chips and a sprinkling of course sugar and cinnamon to the top. While I didn’t like them quite as well as the simple scones I make from scratch, they were good.


And while I am playing true confessions with boxed mixes, I must admit that, while I usually dress them up, I often start with a boxed mix as a base for brownies. They turn out consistently delicious and on the average as good as homemade brownies starting from scratch, with less fuss and dirty dishes to clean.


So there you have it. Now, do you want to try one of these scrumptious Chess Squares or not? Mine are almost gone but you can make some yourself….if you dare.



Chess Squares

1 box yellow cake mix

1 stick butter, softened

4 eggs

1 8oz.package cream cheese, softened

1 box (1 pound) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cake mix, butter and one egg. Press the mixture into a 13" x 9" pan.

In a small bowl beat together the softened cream cheese and 3 eggs. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating until smooth.

Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cake mix mixture and smooth it to the edges of the pan.

Bake 45 minutes at 350F. Remove to wire rack to cool. Cut into squares.

Serve and enjoy!

7 comments:

Ivy said...

Yes, mixes are frowned upon and I feel guilty when thinking about using them. Bu, I think we all use them once in a while to give ourselves a break or to be true to a favorite. It's the love that goes into things anyway. :)

Cute post!

grace said...

chess squares (or gooey butter cake, a very, very similar dessert) are one of the few things for which i'll break out the cake mix. i feel no guilt about that whatsoever. what does inspire guilt, though, is the fact that i eat the entire cake myself. :)

Jen said...

I make this recipe too since it's a family favorite of our (we call them Gooey Bars). While I almost always bake from scratch, I do use mixes and stuff for classic family favorites. I even use the recipe on the back of the can for green bean casserole at Christmas time.

Gypmar said...

It feels so wrong to use a mix...but...I've never had a brownie from scratch that tasted better than one from a box.

June said...

No explanation or apologies necessary. These look fabulous and I'll be trying them very soon.

dixiedragon said...

Unless you are a chef or in a cooking/baking contest where ingredients MUST be from scratch - no apology required. Most people here are busy wives and mothers, many have careers and the fact that you love your family/friends enough to fire that oven up suffices - when you stir that batter the ONE thing on your mind is "I hope they like this" that alone infuses your work with a DOUBLE dose of love. If it's made at home, it's home made - I don't care how it was originally packaged. it's not like you're passing off the local bakery goods as your own LOL

Lisa said...

You are quite right, Dixiedragon! Thank you for your encouragement to fire up the oven for family and friends this Christmas!