Friday, April 20, 2012


Ooey-Gooey- Goodness on a Fork!

Sometimes you need the comfort of your mother’s love. Unfortunately, my mom is no longer on this earth, but I can still find that comfort in her recipes. My mom Ann was a wonderful cook. I tasted the love, heart and soul she put in each dish.  One recipe in particular that she made so very well was a St. Louis classic, Gooey Butter Cake. This was one of her signature dishes, and requested often by her friends.  After she passed, one friend would call me every couple of months asking for her recipe. I’m not sure what he did with all the other ones, but I was happy to oblige.  This “breakfast” cake (yes, it is classified as breakfast food) is a sweet make-your-teeth hurt addiction. You can only have a small serving at a sitting, but you’ll find yourself sneaking into the kitchen to pinch off a bite.

As I said, this is a St. Louis classic. I know that Paula Deen gets a lot of credit for this dish; in fact, of all the Gooey Butter Cake recipes on the Food Network’s website, the majority has her byline. I’m glad that she loves it, and that she has brought it attention to her fans, however, it’s a Midwest classic.  I found an interesting “rant” blog by someone who was really upset about Paula "taking" credit for Gooey Butter. No matter... I am thankful that Paula’s fans now know this wonderful dessert.  For the record, Gooey Butter Cake was created in the 1930’s by a German baker, who had accidentally mixed up ingredients. During the depression and not wanting to waste anything, he offered this gooey product to his customers. I’m so glad that he didn’t throw it out, because this is a great addition to the nation’s culinary history.  This born and bred St. Louisan loves-loves his dessert.  Side note: here’s a story in the New York Times about Gooey Butter Cake.
Yellow Cake Mix and Eggs
So, why love Gooey Butter Cake? What’s not to love, it’s the ultimate sweet treat. There’s nothing else like it, it’s sort of a combination of brownie and coffee cake. When I am missing my mom, this is one of her recipes that I go for first.  With one bite, all is right with the world. Imagine a rich, dense cake with an amazing cream cheese filling that will curl your toes with happiness.  As the filling bakes, it creates this thin crust, and as your fork crunches down, it’s like breaking the top of a crème brûlée. After the cake has cooled a bit, sprinkle the top with power sugar. Not that it needs more sweetness, (Oh, but it does) the visual appearance of the powdered sugar looks like the dusting of a first snow. Ah, it makes me happy just thinking about it.

Gooey Butter Cake Base and Filling
My mom’s recipe uses a yellow cake mix; (Duncan Hines) it’s how she made it, and frankly, I’m not going to mess with perfection. I have found some recipes with a from scratch cake base, and at some point I might try my hand at them.  However, I recently made my first cake from scratch for Easter and it took two rounds and two different recipes to be successful, so I’m not in any hurry.  One recipe on my must-try list is from one of my blog idols Smitten Kitchen.

Crispy Corner Brownie Pan
Putting my own twist on a classic...
Last year, I bought one of those brownie pans that make the brownies with four corners on each one. I kept seeing those commercials for the “Original” brownie pan and wanted to try one, however, I am hesitant about buying any product from an infomercial. One day while my husband and I were in Bed, Bath & Beyond, I spotted the daddy of awesome brownie pans. It is a heavy-duty solid pan with columns in the middle dividing the batter into 12 different sections. It makes outrageous perfectly baked brownies, each with the desired crunchy four corners.  Here’s the link to order Crispy Corners Brownie Pan from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Gooey Butter Cake Base
I had wondered if I could use this pan for making Gooey Butter Cake, and yes, you most certainly can! Instead of pressing the cake base into a big 13 x 9 pan, I pressed the batter into the individual sections. Some hard-core Gooey Butter Cake lovers might disagree with me, but you really do need a good ratio of cake to goo.  Too much goo and you are over-powered with sweetness, too little and it’s just cake. You have to combine both for the true GBC experience.  I used my cookie/ice cream scoop to portion out even amounts and it worked great! It was really easy; I pressed the batter up along the sides, making a deep well in the center of each section. Once the base was complete, I mixed the filling and again, scooped the gooeyness into the wells. I was afraid that it would run over, but it worked fine. Full disclosure using this pan, there was some filling left over, I’ll have to work on not wasting any next time.  

Gooey Butter Cake - ready for baking
While the individual cakes were still warm, (when served this way is awesome), I tested the end result on our neighbors Tricia and Niles. Tricia texted me “Holy Crap! These are sooo good!” I have to agree with Tricia, they really are good... maybe we should call them Gooey “Goody” Butter Cake. For a moment, I thought, “Maybe I could make and sell these?”  Who knows, maybe someday!   My husband has had gooey butter cake before, but I think he likes them better this way. The reason I think this... he’s had one for breakfast every morning for the past few days.  On a side note: you can enjoy this dessert with a cold glass of milk, cup of coffee or hot tea, or my husband’s recommendation with a glass of white wine. (Left over from dinner)

Individual Gooey Butter Cakes
I have to admit, eating one of these little gems is like getting a hug from my mom. I hope that you too will try this recipe, my mom would be so happy if you did!

My Mama’s St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
By Shirley Ann 
Pre-heat over 350 degrees

Bottom Layer
1 Yellow Cake Mix (Duncan Hines)
2 eggs
1 stick butter melted

Mix together, and pat in the bottom of an oblong pan. (or nifty segmented brownie pan.)

Top Layer
1 8oz. Package Philly Cream Cheese
1 Stick Butter -melted
2 eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 box Powdered Sugar

Mix together, and pour on top bottom layer.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes in 350 degree oven until golden brown.
When cooled, sprinkle cake with powdered sugar, and nuts (optional)

Until next time... happy cooking!
SRQ Foodie 

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