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 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!
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!