Chocolate Haystack Cream Cheese Squares

When I was a sophomore in college many moons ago, I landed the coolest job ever. Chocolate-Mold-Tapper at the best chocolate company in the land. I should probably mention that I scored the job because my mom had dated the owner’s son waaaay back in the day before my dad or I or my other four siblings came into the picture, but I won’t. I’d like it remembered I got the job based on my mad chocolate-tapping skills.

Anyhow, my main job was to make all of the 3-dimensional chocolate products, everything from chocolate violins to chocolate baby shoes. I filled and tapped, filled and tapped. Nary an air bubble in my chocolate molds, I’m proud to say. However, the real reason I’m telling you this (seriously, get to the point already!), is because while there, not only did I regain my “freshman 15” but ended up packing on the “sophomore 30″…all because I developed a serious addiction to the haystack.

Ever had one? Well, they just might be the best confection on the planet. Finely, finely, finely chopped toasted coconut enveloped in rich, sweet, creamy chocolate (dark chocolate!). That’s it. Simple and oh, so very addicting. Each bite is like a melt-in-your-mouth melding of coconut and chocolate. They are my favorite chocolates ever. And no, I’ve never tried dipping them at home…

…but I have made these chocolate haystack cream cheese squares. The delectable haystack combination forms the so-called crust and is topped with a silky, smooth cheesecake layer and toasted coconut. Hello.

No wonder this “sophomore 30” is still hanging around 13 years later.

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Chocolate Haystack Cream Cheese Squares

One Year Ago: Chocolate Toffee Brownie Bites
Two Years Ago: Holiday Morning Buns

Chocolate Haystack Cream Cheese Squares

Yield: Makes about 2 dozen.

Chocolate Haystack Cream Cheese Squares


  • 2 cups finely ground graham crackers (from about 15 rectangles)
  • 3 cups (10 ounces) finely shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5 eggs
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan with at least 2 1/2 - 3-inch high sides (I use an aluminum square cake pan with high sides, if yours is a glass pan with shorter sides, you might try increasing the pan size so the cheesecake doesn't overflow). Line with parchment paper or foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides. Butter or lightly grease the foil or parchment.
  2. Stir together the graham cracker crumbs and 2 cups of the coconut. In a microwave-safe bowl, place both kinds of chocolate, 3 tablespoons sugar and butter. Microwave for one minute at 50% power. Stir. Repeat the process, stirring after each minute, until the chocolate mixture is melted and smooth. Let the mixture cool slightly until lukewarm to the touch. Quickly whisk in one egg.
  3. Stir the chocolate mixture into the graham cracker/coconut mixture. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool in pan.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl with an electric or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and remaining 1 cup sugar on high speed until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, and add eggs, 1 at a time, until well combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on medium-high speed until completely smooth, about 3 minutes.
  5. Pass the cheesecake mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, and stir until smooth. Pour over cooled crust. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup coconut evenly over the top. Bake for 32-35 minutes, until the top layer is just set and golden brown. Let the bars cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate, loosely covered, overnight.
  6. Run a sharp knife around edges of pan, and use parchment or foil handles to lift out the cheesecake. Cut the bars into 1-inch squares. The bars will keep up to 4 days in an airtight container kept in the refrigerator.

Recipe Source: adapted from Martha Stewart

42 Responses to Chocolate Haystack Cream Cheese Squares

  1. Peggy Randell says:

    Made these with gluten free graham whafer crumbs……they are fabulous, but I used a 9 by 13 in. Pan . …will definitely be making them again.

  2. Sue says:

    Do you need to put the cream cheese mixture through a strainer ? Also,can I melt the butter and chocolate in a pan then add the rest instead of using a microwave? Thanks

  3. Marion says:

    These are awesome squares, a really great treat. I am doing my Christmas baking, these will definitely be added to my variety of cookies. I am just wondering if these can be frozen.

  4. Liz says:

    I’m happy to report these were delicious! I will use a different pan next time. And there will be a next time. Yum! My husband said it was like coconut cheesecake on top of a no-bake cookie. 🙂

  5. Liz says:

    Every recipe I’ve tried on your blog has been fabulous! So thank you! I’m a huge fan! This recipe is giving me a little grief though. Right now I’m having to bake it quite a bit longer than listed and the cheesecake layer is still super liquid-y while the coconut on top is brown. It’s overflowing out of my square dish–I’m wondering if these needed to be in a larger pan. I’m perplexed about getting 24 servings out of a square dish, unless they’re teeny tiny. I hope these are as delicious as they look (if I can get them to turn out)!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Liz – sorry these are giving you troubles! The pan size and ingredient amounts are correct – the issue might be that the sides of my 9-inch square baking pan are at least 2 1/2 – 3 inches (it’s an aluminum cake pan). Are the sides of your pan shorter? I’ll make a note in the recipe about that – I hope they were able to cook through. And yes, the serving size is fairly small, like a little two-bite treat; you could certainly cut them larger.

  6. Kelly says:

    Hey Mel! I just wanna say that these squares are abosultely delicious ! and addicting… everyone who tried them loved them! Thank you so much and I’ll definitely be trying more of your recipes in the future 🙂

  7. Mel says:

    Hey Krista – I’m not sure why the bottom layer was so hard. Maybe underbaking it by a few minutes would help. The cheesecake layer on these bars is on the soft side so you may have baked it just right but if you dare try them again, add a few minutes onto the baking time of the cheesecake layer to see if it helps firm up.

  8. So, Mel. I made these this weekend and have a question. I made it in my 8inch round cheesecake pan. And they were divine. But… my cheesecake layer was more like mousse. Did I not cook it long enough? And the bottom layer was kinda hard. No offense to Martha, but I loved the bottom, but wasn’t too thrilled with the top layer. Thanks for the great recipe though!

  9. These were so good! The best thing I’ve had in a long time! Coconut? Chocolate? Cream Cheese? Uhhhhhhhh….yes, please. What more could you want?!

  10. Hi Mel! Wow, I adore this recipe. I made a couple changes and put my version of it on my blog. Thank you so much! Your blog is my favorite food blog and I refer to it daily! You are a fantastic cook! Here’s the link:

  11. Oh no! I’m such a sucker for coconut and chocolate and am just now seeing this! Yikes! I’m totally making these this week after I buy some cream cheese.

    I just made your Easiest Brownies, but rather than a 9 x 13 pan, I made them bite-sized in a silicon mini muffin pan. Not only did they pop out perfectly and look temptingly terrific, but they taste SO good too. I can’t thank you enough for all the inspiration you give to so many!
    You’re awesome, Mel! Xie xie! (Thank you–in Mandarin)

  12. grace says:

    darn you, mel. darn you. i don’t think i could exhibit one iota of self control when it comes to these. egads. also, chocolate mold tapper? sounds excellent. 🙂

  13. Recommended Coconut Chocolite Sugar…

    […] utter. Microwave for one minute at 50% power. Stir. Repeat the process, stirring […]…

  14. Mandy Kirk says:

    Oh I love Florences, my mom grew up in Rexburg, and my grandma worked at “Ricks” for years as the secretary to the sports director. My mom still buys us Florences every Easter and Christmas. I try to hoard them as much as possible. What a fun job that would have been. I too was at Ricks 13 years ago, what a small world. I want to try these as well they look awesome!!

  15. Lauren says:

    Hey Mel,
    That bottom layer looks just like the bottom of Nanaimo Bars. Have you ever had those? If not, they are a DELISH layered Canadian treat. We made them during the Olympics last year. They are similar except with another layer of chocolate on top. You should try them! The recipe is on my blog under “desserts”. Have a great holiday!

  16. Kira says:

    Your root beer float fudge looks so fun and different! I would have left the comment there, but entries were closed for the post. How on earth do you servive with all these yummy treats in your house? I would eat myself sick!

  17. Veronica says:

    Mel…would you consider a boarder? I so need to come live with you. You make such wonderful stuff. These look incredible!!!

  18. Kim in MD says:

    Wow…these look amazing, Mel! I agree with Sook- your family is very lucky! 🙂

  19. Sook says:

    Mel, these look so goood!!!! Your family is SO lucky to have you as a family chef and baker! 🙂

  20. Aly says:

    Wow! This is a definite keeper. That looks dangerously good!!! Thanks!

  21. Kaleena says:

    Holy cow Mel can you just make me a book of all the sugar rush recipes?? Okay seriously while reading this I HAD to make them, so I began thinking I had all the ingredients! (score!) I was beginning to taste them in my mouth and then read that I had to wait overnight!! Ahhhh! Why would you post such a tantalizing recipe and not live close enough still that I could come steal yours?? (even though you probably made them awhile ago) anyways looks and sounds like I’m going to have to make these and then try to practice patience until tomorrow! Argh! 🙂

  22. teresa says:

    :), no but when i checked out your candy shop website i figured that’s where you went. i had a LOT of friends go and they loved it. i wonder how different it is now that it’s BYUi

  23. teresa says:

    someone went to ricks! these look and sound SO good, must try!

  24. Kris says:

    I have been stalking your blog for a long, long, time and I love your recipes so much! But I think what I like even better is reading your stories and/or descriptions about the foods and why you love them! It is hilarious and also makes me want to try just about every recipe. Thanks again, keep it up!

  25. queenann says:

    That is quite the wikipedia entry on Freshman 15. In-depth, informative, thorough. Good linking.

  26. Cammee says:

    I don’t even like chocolate and I want to eat these! They look divine.

  27. Megan says:

    These look amazing. Seriously amazing. Can you find unsweetened coconut in the baking isle at the grocery story? All I can remember seeing is sweetened coconut. On a side note, I made your amazing chocolate cake when my parents were here visiting and I kid you not that we ate it for dessert, breakfast and then lunch the next day. IT IS SO GOOD!!

    • Mel says:

      Megan – I actually found unsweetened coconut quite easily in my area, although I had never noticed it before. I found it at a grocery store called Woodman’s here. They have a particularly well-stocked baking section. I haven’t seen it at Walmart or a few other grocery stores. In a pinch, you could use sweetened coconut but adjust the sugar to taste so it isn’t so sweet.

  28. Lindsay says:

    I love florence’s! Such good chocolate! These look divine!

  29. Adrienne says:

    I’m considering making these for breakfast….I LOVE haystacks and cheesecake….totally could be a new favorite. Thanks! (and now I may be heading to Florance’s too!)

  30. nicole says:

    my shopping list keeps getting bigger. I need these on my holiday plates for neighbors. thanks for sharing. I have heard of that store before. did you go to Ricks?

  31. briarrose says:

    What a fabulous job. I’m not sure I could be trusted around so much chocolate though. 😉 I haven’t had a haystack in so long I barely remember their glory. I will have to request Santa leave me some in my stocking. Beautiful treats….I will have to give these a try.

  32. CaSaundra says:

    That sounds like my kinda job!! And no doubt this recipe is being added to my Christmas baking list now–thanks for sharing! Looks delish!

  33. Ricki says:

    Oh my goodness! These just moved to the top of my holiday baking list!

  34. This looks like a delicious version of a haystack! In my world, a haystack is those Chinese chow mein noodles mixed with peanuts and coated in butterscotch. Ever heard of that type of haystack? Might be a Southern thing…

  35. I don’t even like cream cheese and these look good to me! 😉

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