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Disappearing Act: Houdini Bars

Houdini Bars
Leafing through The Cake Mix Doctor Returns (have you entered the giveaway, by the way?), the first recipe to catch my eye was for Houdini Bars. What's a Houdini bar? Named for the magician because because they're "so rich and delicious that they disappear quickly," these dense bars are comprised of a cakey crust filled with a buttery, cheesecake-y filling with nuts and coconut. Heaven on a plate? Yes indeed: they taste like birthday cake, cheesecake, and coconut cream pie--simultaneously--in every beautiful bite. If you love decadent desserts, these ones will disappear fast.
Houdini Bars
(P.S. If you love the pot holders shown above, they're from Rustbelt Fiberwerks!)
Houdini Bars
adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns
Recipe says that it makes 30, but we only got 12 (gluttons)

  • 1 package (18.25 oz) plain yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature (recipe calls for reduced-fat; I used full-fat)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (original recipe called for pecans; either way, the nuts are optional)

Spooning in the coconut-cheesecake mixtureReady to bake

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Set aside a generously greased 9x13-inch pan.
  2. Place the cake mix, butter, and one egg in a large mixing bowl and beat on low speed with an electric mixer until the ingredients are incorporated, about 1 minute. Press the batter into the bottom and partially up the sides of the baking pan (I used my hands) and set the pan aside.
  3. Place the cream cheese in the same mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Add the remaining 2 eggs and the vanilla and the confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed until smooth and combined, about 1 minute. Fold in the coconut; pour mixture over the crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Scatter the nuts, if you've chosen to use them.
  4. Bake the bars until the edges are well browned and the center is firm to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer the baking pan to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes before cutting and serving (do not score the bars while still hot!)

These bars keep in the fridge for up to five days. If they last that long.


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Reader Comments (27)

I'd make these just so I could tell someone what they were called! And why- although after anyone tasted them, they'd know. Yum!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

You had me at rich and delicious, lost me at coconut.

Courteous: I think you'd be fine making these without the coconut.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

I have a recipe like this that uses devil's food cake.


September 30 | Unregistered CommenterLass

mmmmm...just what we're craving over here at Bitchin' Kitchen with our serious sweet tooth! You get enough women in one room you know what that means...we talk about sweets everyday! Question...I am kinda feeling what the courteous chihuahua said...can we leave the coconut out of this recipe if we're not that into the flavor... Let us know! Thanks!
BK Crew

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

YUMMMM!! I think I'm going to make these tonight!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Lass: that looks awesome!

Kristin: I think that the coconut is not a vital element--I think you could just omit it if coconut is not your thing. For me though it was a definite bonus!

Kristin: Hope you enjoy!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

I'm so intrigued! These look like my kind of bar.

September 30 | Unregistered Commenterthe southern hostess

These look yummy!!! I need to try them...ASAP.

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterSeptember Roberts

This is gooey butter cake with coconut and walnuts - sounds delish!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

after thinking about these bars all day i've decided i'll freeze the yellow cupcakes i made last night but didn't get around to frosting yet and pull out another box of yellow cake mix to make these bars tonight

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

Just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading Cakespy. It's always entertaining and well-written. Cuppie is adorable. I look forward to your posts!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

It looked and sounded so yummy that I went ahead and made it! And I'm not much of a baker. In fact, its in the oven right now! And, yes, it doesn't look like it makes 30 pieces, nor 12, but a mere 6!

Enjoy reading your blog and tweets! Thanks for being our CakeSpy!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterIrene

Hi Jessie... it's Cinde from Gluten Free Taste of Home. It was so fun meeting you at the Foodbuzz dinner last night!

This recipe looks wicked... I am anxious to try it!

Cinde =D

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterCinde

Irene, hope you enjoy!!

Cinde: Hope these will work in a GF kitchen...probably the filling is fine, right? Just the edges would be tricky!

Hope everyone else enjoys it too if they try it!!

September 30 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

This would most certainly disappear at my house. Love the cream cheese and coconut, heck I like it all.

October 1 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

They deserve to be called Houdini bars indeed, so sinfully good!

October 1 | Unregistered CommenterDolce

Looks marvelous! Can I order one and you'll ship it with your next shipment to Renegade Handmade?! :)

October 1 | Unregistered Commenterrcf

I'm so going to try this!

October 1 | Unregistered CommenterNutmeg Nanny

Oh yum...

October 1 | Unregistered Commenterveggie wedgie

That is intense. Wow.

October 2 | Unregistered CommenterTender Branson

I made the Houdini Bars the other night. They are really good! I added a big squirt of coco lopez to the cream cheese mixture too. I think I'm going to try them again but add some pumpkin, brown sugar & sprinkle of cinnamon to the cream cheese mixture and leave out the coconut. In my opinion, they are best after having sat in the fridge for a day.

October 2 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Kristin: I too am thinking of all of the variations that could be made. They're so good!! I love your pumpkin and brown sugar idea. And I have to say, I agree that they taste great the next day (I had one for breakfast on day 2, and it was pretty awesome!).

October 2 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

Wow! This bar looks pretty yummy, I think I may have to give this a try, definitely with pecans though!

October 2 | Unregistered Commenterapparentlyjessy

"they taste like birthday cake, cheesecake, and coconut cream pie--simultaneously--in every beautiful bite." -- I can't think of ANYTHING more delicious sounding. My stomach is growling and my mouth is watering!

October 6 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna
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