The idea was brought to me directly from St. Louis via my boyfriend's parents who were visiting over Memorial Day weekend. Having never heard of it, the name was a quick selling point. Apparently a very St. Louis kind of thing, I figured the west coast needed to be introduced (including myself) so ventured to try it.
Not sure if she was the founder of said Gooey Butter Cake or simply the one who made it popular, but it appears we have Paula Dean to thank for it. So saying, I believe the confection holds up to the Southerner stereotype that if it's going to be good, it's going to be clogging your arteries. Yum. Luckily it's pretty rich, so unlike some of those scorpion-style confections that you find you can eat tons of, but are extremely bad for you, this treat should and really can only be consumed in small portions.*
So the original recipe calls for a box of cake mix. Once we look past that minor indiscretion, we can get excited about the recipe that is the "gooey". I find it's a close relative to that cream cheese filling you can optionally put into brownies, which is also a close relative to cream cheese frosting. Yeah, I said cream cheese frosting. But it's BAKED in. Genius.
For experiment's sake, I made what you would consider half a batch. Please double at your own discretion.
So I started with a variation on yellow cake. My variation went something like this:
sift together and set aside:
- 1 C flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 C sugar
- 1/2 C butter, melted
- 3/4 cup milk, curdled with a tsp of vinegar (aka buttermilk - I didn't happen to have any, hence the substitute)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg
Add dry ingredients to wet.
Yeah, that's it.
Pour this mix into the bottom of a 9x13 pan (I line mine with parchment to keep things easier to clean/cut). You could also do a 9x9 with the final product being a bit taller (could be good).
Next, make the gooey:
- 1/2 package cream cheese (4 oz.)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 box powdered sugar (approx. 8 oz.) (if I had to guess, which I did have to, I'd say that's somewhere between 2-3 cups)
- 1/4 C melted butter
Blend cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla. Then add the sugar (I dare you not to make a mess of it) and make sure it's smooth. Then pour in the melted butter.
Pour that mixture over the cake batter evenly. I smoothed mine out and made pretty swirly designs which ended up being visible after baking, so I recommend it (if you care).
Bake for 30-40 minutes (and add more time if you double the recipe). But I guess this is where you just do what you think is best because if you insert a toothpick in the center, well... it's going to be gooey. So I just make sure the cake looked pretty well browned on top (where it was popping through the filling) and made sure it cooled completely before digging in.
Cut, and enjoy!
I also tried one variation with chocolate cake and peanut butter gooey, but we ate it before it cooled so the photos would have been discouraging. They were adored by the consumers, nonetheless.
*That is totally an opinion. I'm sure there are those who would challenge my position. At their own risk, of course.