Monday, January 17, 2011

gooey butter cake

New look, new dessert, new semester.

I've spent the last two weeks relishing Cville without students. Campus has been so quiet that walking across it to and from the apartment shuttle has been relaxing in and of itself. Then, coming home and bundling up in a hand-knit quilt, cooking and baking, watching Netflix, visiting friends, having friends visit... it's been lovely.

But, alas, all good things must come to an end, and a new semester starts in 2 days. I came home briefly this past weekend to exploit my mom's credit card on groceries and pick up Assassin's Creed to see my amazing family, which was nice after a 25-hour work week. Though, I must say, I do love my apartment dearly. And Noosh is back now, too, so it's home again. I'm even pretty excited about the upcoming semester, which is admittedly nerdy to the max, but I can't help it that I actually signed up for classes that I'm excited about. [History of Marx? Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe? Is it any wonder that I managed to find all of the philosophically-driven college requirements offered?]

Really though, I think it's the lack of Symbolic Logic alone that has me anticipating a good semester.

That, and I have a bunch of dessert recipes lined up to try.

Oh, and Spain in 5 months, but that's no big deal [read: I'm counting down the days desperately].

Today was Raj and Hershil's birthday. Twenty years old. Goodness. Everyone's turning twenty, and leaving me in the dust! But that's alright. [I just get to stay wrinkle-free for longer.]

For the occasion, I baked them some famous gooey butter cakes. These rich cakes, though, more like bars because it's impossible to eat an actual slice of this thing without dying of sugar overdose, originated in St. Louis in the 1930's. They started out as coffee cakes, rather than dessert cakes, but over time the yellow-cake-and-cream-cheese-topping variation turned it into a sugary-sweet, after-dinner treat.

Gooey Butter Cakes
Adapted from Paula Deen's The Ladies & Sons Just Desserts 

For the cake, you'll need:
  • 1 18.25-oz package yellow cake mix [i.e. one box]
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick [8 tbsp] butter, melted

For the filling, you'll need:
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 16-oz powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups toffee bits, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, optional
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9-inch baking pan.

To prepare the cake, combine cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixture. Pat the mixture evenly into the base of the pan. Set aside.

To prepare the filling, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add vanilla and butter and beat until blended. Turn mixer speed to low and slowly add powdered sugar until mixture is smooth. Toss in nuts, toffee, or chocolate [or any combination thereof] and stir into mixture, if desired. Pour the filling on top of the cake. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until filling has set, but is still slightly gooey [do not overbake]. Wait for cake to cool to room temperature before cutting into bars.

For this batch, I added some toffee bits, which is my standard adaptation of Paula's recipe [though sometimes I'll toss in half a cup of chopped pecans as well]. I don't know, I just like the crunch of the toffee, and the nuts help to offset the sweetness a little bit. I've never tried a chocolate variation of this, though, but I'm sure it would taste just as phenomenal.

The first time I ever baked these was a few years back, for a dear old friend who loved them. So much so that I'm pretty sure I baked these for him a number of times, and the repeated practice is how I initially got really into baking bar desserts. They're just so portable, and versatile, and make excellent gifts, and are delicious.

That, and Nitya referred to these as "applesauce bars," for reasons I'm not quite sure of, seeing as how there is absolutely no applesauce in them, nor do they taste at all like apple. Maybe it's the consistency? Except that it's not? -shrug- She always was an odd one...

Happy birthday, boys :)


  1. i lof the new look and motto! omg i lof you, why are you so perfect and beautiful.

  2. This cake that you may or may not have made for my birthday is kind of really freakin' delicious ... just saying...

  3. Looks tooo good and guess what?I made a liver shaped cake(lobes,veins and all the details) for Yusra's biology project but forgot to take a picture!Darn.That could have proved i'm still o so good at baking.After all who taught you your culinary skills?Meeeee.And now u're better at it.

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