Although not a Southerner herself, Nancy Reagan was inspired by incredible Southern baking. Following a visit to the Neshoba County Fair (billed as Mississippi's Giant Houseparty) during Ronald Reagan's 1980 bid for the presidency, Nancy shared this indulgent recipe, which we adapted from the Giant Houseparty Cookbook by The Philadelphia-Neshoba County Chamber of Commerce. Layers of pure goodness make up these Vienna Chocolate Bars. First, buttery shortbread is baked in a jelly roll pan. Then, fresh raspberry preserves are spread over the crust, followed with a sprinkling of chocolate morsels. Finally, a fluffy meringue filled with finely chopped pecans is spread over the layer of chocolate morsels and baked until beautifully browned. Since this recipe is made in a jelly roll pan and cut into bars, it can feed a crowd (of at least three dozen, to be exact). Whether for a dinner party, holiday gathering, or luncheon, these fruity chocolate bars will be a hit. Plus, they make wonderful food gifts to bring neighbors, teachers, or hostesses. Thank you for the amazing recipe, Nancy!

Southern Living


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary test

Makes 3 dozen


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil; lightly grease foil. Beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until well blended. Add egg yolks, and beat until combined. Gradually add flour, beating at low speed 1 to 2 minutes or just until combined. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.

  • Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and spread preserves over crust. Sprinkle with chocolate morsels.

  • Beat egg whites and salt at high speed, using whisk attachment, until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating until glossy and stiff peaks form. Fold in pecans. Gently spread egg white mixture over chocolate mixture.

  • Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until meringue is browned and crispy. Cool completely on a wire rack (1 hour). Cut into bars.

  • Note: We tested with Dickinson's Pure Seedless Cascade Mountain Red Raspberry Preserves.


From Giant Houseparty Cookbook by The Philadelphia-Neshoba County Chamber of Commerce.