My Cake Decorating Gallery

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sinful Gooey Butter Cake

Last July I went to Key West with two friends. We stayed at the most adorable bed and breakfast, the Key West Bed and Breakfast to be exact (highly recommended). Each morning we would toddle downstairs to see what freshly baked breads an pastries the homeowner/caretaker had prepared for our breakfast. It was really quite a setting, we could squeeze our own fresh oranges in a press, make some toast, enjoy fresh coffee and have our choice of fresh island fruit.

Now, most people know that Key West is known for its bars, and that certainly was the goal of our brief 3-night adventure - to party and relax! Consequently, we were often the last ones to arrive to the kitchen for breakfast... all those non-drinking trolley-riding tourists had beaten us to the best picks of the morn'. On one particular morning, this was the case and there was only one slice of a round, flat, delicious-looking cake (looked more like a moist bar-cookie really). I had read all the reviews in (don't go anywhere without reading there first!), and caught wind that this was the "Ooey Gooey Butter Cake" or something of the like. We cut our measly triangle into three pieces and each had a slice and piled up other treats onto our plates. And if I hadn't dropped and broken my camera the first night, I'd have taken a picture for ya!

Finally, after tasting this Butter Cake, I knew I had to get the recipe. It was incredibly rich, moist, and I couldn't put my finger on what was in it exactly. One friend noted that it was so rich, our third-of-a-slice was the perfect amount. I lied and agreed (think Cartman: yeah I want my cheesy poofs! i want a whole butter cake slice, too! Piggy tourists). Another aside: I like how everyone else were horrible tourists, but oh - not us. Anyway, all this to say - it was delicious.

I e-mailed the BnB owner once we returned home and she said that recipe could be found in the Joy of Cooking book. I tried looking for it but never found it (Mother in Law has the book). One day I did a search online, realizing the wonderful Internet typically has all answers to my inquiries. I couldn't find the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake but "Gooey Butter Cake" did turn up, and from a reputable source. Paula Deen has been known to love butter and her Gooey Butter Cake was the perfect recipe for me to try.

Finally, because I don't have the metabolism to go around baking whatever I think looks good, whenever I want, and can't eat Ooey Butter Cake each day.... I had to wait for an excuse to make it. For our Bagel Group at work, every 25 or so weeks it is my turn to bring in bagels, and I typically also bring in something homemade. February 20th was my day and Gooey Butter Cake it was!

I had one square about a half hour after it came out of the oven, because I couldn't wait to try it (I read we should let it cool first). It was outstanding, and after Hubby tried it, he noted we shouldn't eat any more of it. It's sinful.

At work, it was a big hit and the modest squares went fast. We all knew we shouldn't have a second piece, but boy was the first piece worth it. The crispy/chewy dark edge mixed with a creamy, moist, buttery cake filling is a great combination. Next time I might try to convert the 9x13 pan recipe for two circle pans (just have to figure out what size), so that each person gets a bit of the brown crust when cut like a pie (like in Key West).

Should you eat Gooey Butter Cake every day? No. Should you try it for a special treat - maybe a brunch, tea party, or holiday? Absolutely! It's incredibly easy and you can dress it up in many ways to add chocolate, nuts, etc... just need a reason to try them all!

Gooey Butter Cake
From Paula Deen / Lady and Sons Just Desserts
(as found here on

From Paula Deen:

Butter Gooey Cakes. Ooey Gooey Butter Cakes. Ooey Booey Gooey Cakes. These are just a few of the names I've heard our guests at The Lady & Sons call 'em. But to quote Shakespeare: What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet. This is exactly how I feel about our Gooey Butter Cakes. No matter what you call them, they're like that sweet rose that Shakespeare wrote about.

These delectable cakes were an instant hit the first day they showed up in The Bag Lady basket and they immediately became one of my most requested items. These little sweeties actually resemble a bar-type dessert instead of what we know as a traditional cake. Over the years, I have made every flavor imaginable, using this basic recipe. I'll give you some of my recommendations but by all means experiment and have fun creating your very own version of our signature Gooey Butter Cakes.

1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (16-ounce) box confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well. Pat into the bottom of prepared pan and set aside.

Still using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth; add eggs and vanilla. Dump in confectioners' sugar and beat well. Reduce speed of mixer and slowly pour in butter. Mix well.

Pour filling onto cake mixture and spread evenly. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Don't be afraid to make a judgment call on the cooking time, because oven temperatures can vary. You want the center to be a little gooey, so don't bake it past that point!

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares. Just remember that these wonderful little cakes are very, very rich, and a little will go a long way-even for piggies like me!

Pumpkin Gooey: This variation has to be at the top of my list, especially around Thanksgiving. For the cake part, I sometimes use a spice cake mix. I have even used a chocolate cake mix, but I think my favorite is the basic yellow cake mix. Follow the original recipe, adding a 15-ounce can of pumpkin pie filling and an extra egg to the cream cheese filling. Bake as usual, remove from oven, and allow to cool. Cut into squares and top each square with a pecan half. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. I promise you'll never want pumpkin pie again!

Pineapple Gooey: Add a 20-ounce can of drained crushed pineapple and an extra egg to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

Lemon Gooey: Use a lemon cake mix in place of the yellow cake. Add the juice (approximately 1/4 cup) and zest of 2 lemons to the cream cheese filling. Proceed: as directed above.

Carrot Cake Gooey: Use a spice cake mix, and add 1 cup chopped nuts and 1 1/2 cup finely grated carrots to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

Peanut Butter Gooey: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter and an extra egg to cream cheese filling. You can sprinkle the top of batter with 1 cup chopped peanuts if you like. Proceed as directed above.

Chocolate Chip Gooey: Use either yellow or chocolate cake mix. Sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped nuts on top of filling. Proceed as directed above.

Banana Gooey: Use a yellow cake mix. Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas and an extra egg. Proceed as directed above.

Nutty Gooey: Use a yellow cake mix, and add 1 cup chopped nuts to the cake mixture. Proceed as directed above.

Chippy Gooey: Stir 1 cup white chocolate chips, peanut butter chocolate chips, butterscotch morsels, Heath Almond Toffee Bits or Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits into filling. Proceed as directed above.

Thank you Paula for your passion with butter!


  1. Wow Anne! All of your food looks so yummy! I had no idea you had a food blog - too cool! Thanks for you comment on my blog as well! Hope to see you sometime soon!


  2. Thanks for sharing, all of this food is making me really hungry. I love food. Perhaps you should open a key west bed and breakfast. I think you'd be perfect for it.