Treat Day – Week 3 (Gooey Butter Bars)


So today is Treat Day – Week 3 at Halas Hall and along with the cookies and balls, I sent one of their all-time favorites, as well as one of my most requested treats by friends and nieces & nephews… GOOEY BUTTER BARS!!  

Let me tell you a little about this recipe.  Back in 1999 I worked at a production company with a girl that was from St. Louis.  Well, one day, her mother came to town and visited our office, and with her she brought, what she called “St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake”.  I took one bite, and thought I had died and gone to Heaven.  I immediately asked her for the recipe, and she kindly typed it up and emailed it to me later that day.  And, I never made it once. Ha!  UNTIL, I was out in Southern California a few years ago visiting my best friend, Mark, and we went to Mastro’s for dinner.  He said, “Tuohy, we have to order desert, you are going to die when you taste this…”  Well, I took one bite and it brought me right back to 1999 and the St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake.  I said “I KNOW HOW TO MAKE THIS!”.  When I flew back home to Chicago, I dug through my overstuffed file folders of printed & handwritten recipes and found the one from my co-worker’s mother.  I am happy to share it with all of you today, because you don’t see a whole lot of these bars in storefronts in Chicago… however, I will say, it has become a little more well-known in the past few years around here.  At any rate, it’s sweet, and gooey, and people that have never tried or heard of it, are almost always flabbergasted by how delicious it is!



1 Box Yellow Cake Mix – I always use Betty Crocker “Butter Yellow” but really, any good yellow cake mix will be just fine.

1 Egg

1 stick salted butter (melted and cooled a bit)

For the gooey topping:

1 8oz brick of Cream Cheese (room temp) – I ALWAYS use KRAFT Philadelphia – full fat!

2 Eggs

1-1/2 Tablespoons of vanilla – I am not particular about brand of vanilla, but it has to be real vanilla & not imitation…and it’s so expensive these days… ugh!!!

1 stick of salted butter (melted and cooled)

1 lb. box of Confectioner’s Sugar


Pre-heat oven to 350 & Grease a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

In a stand mixer (or handheld), combine dry cake mix with 1 egg and 1 stick of melted butter to form dough.  Press dough firmly to the bottom of your pan. This picture shows me making two pans… but this recipe is just for one pan. Sorry for any confusion!


Next, in a separate bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth, and then add the 2 additional eggs, vanilla and stick of melted butter until well combined.  Be sure to scrape the edges of bowl, as well as bottom of your mixing bowl to get any chunks of cream cheese up and incorporated into a smooth batter. Then add the confectioner’s sugar.  The mix should be creamy and somewhat light and fluffy.  Pour the mixture on top of your dough that is in the pan & with a spatula spread it over to the edges to cover your base completely. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Your edges will get this darker brown, caramelized crust, and the inside will be softer, sweet and gooey and delicious!! I’m sorry I didn’t take a pic of the fully baked pan. My oven takes only 45 minutes, but since ovens vary, I would estimate anywhere between 45 – 50 minutes.

I hope you try this recipe! And be sure to let the pan cool 100% before cutting into these.  I dust the bars with a little powder sugar before serving.

Fun fact: I researched the origin of this recipe and found that it was actually a mistake… like, some baker used the wrong proportions of one ingredient vs. another, but didn’t have the time or money to redo it all over again on that day, so decided to bake the cake anyway… and a star was born! 🙂

Feel free to send me any questions or comments if you do happen to make this.

Thank you for reading my blog and as always… GO BEARS!

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2018 will mark my 7th Season making treats and baking for the Chicago Bears. You might be thinking, how does one land that gig? Well, let me tell you. It’s riveting… My younger brother, Danny, works full-time for the Bears. Our entire family have been life-long Bears fans, btw. Back in the summer of 2012, he came to me and said, “Hey, we need someone to make treats for the team. Do you think you can do it? Because my boss said, Dan, you’ve got all those sisters, can’t one of them bake? So, I volunteered you.” My first response was, “YES, but I don’t know how to bake”. I mean, up until that point, the only things I remember ever baking were 1) S’mores Bars back in the 80’s off a recipe on the back of the Golden Grahams cereal box. Come to think of it now, I don’t even think those things went into the oven – so technically that wasn’t baking. And 2) Good old Nestle Toll House cookies – which NEVER turned out the same each time I baked them and it drove me nuts and got me to HATE baking for that very reason. I was always in love with cooking, though. I was the gal who threw dinner parties often and provided an obnoxious array of hors d’oeuvres and wine – that’s more my thing. Side note: I learned the hard way that baking and wine don’t mix. Ha! However, I was honored and excited to have been asked to step up to the plate for this little baking / treat-making gig, for THE CHICAGO BEARS, no less. So my answer was an enthusiastic, YES! I figured I still had a month before the first regular season game, which is when the “treat days” begin – every Thursday during the regular season (not preseason). So, I hit the streets in search of good recipes and then got to work test-baking in the kitchen for the rest of that summer. As I became more internet savvy, I started following lots of baking bloggers and watching video tutorials. I would go to parties and if I tasted something that I thought was exceptional, I would never hesitate to ask for the recipe. Baking for the Bears is always in the back of my mind when eating desserts. I now have an arsenal of treat recipes worthy of offering at a bake shop, if I do say so myself;) . I started getting requests for my pound cake, outside of Baking for the Bears, and my Double Chocolate Chip Sea Salt cookies have been quoted as “The best cookies in the world” by a well-known player, as well as friends, family and neighbors. One of the first things I did was perfect a cookie of my own that comes out pretty consistently crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. I no longer rely on the old Toll-House recipe. It’s the one thing I never get tired of baking. The guys get them every week. With that said, this season, I plan to blog my recipes each week, and share with you whatever it is I am making for the Bears. I’ll also give you tried & true feedback on what worked, what didn’t, and any fun comments that the players, staff, friends & co-workers might have regarding the treat of the week. My office colleagues love it when football season rolls around, because I typically find new recipes and test-bake on Sundays to bring in on Mondays for critical reviews. From there, I decide if they are Bear-worthy for Thursday Treat Days at Halas Hall. I hope you will check in periodically and enjoy my blog. I’m super excited for the 2018 Bears football season both on the field and in the kitchen! GO BEARS! This is gonna be a good season… I can feel it!

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