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 TripAdvisor.com (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 Recipelink.com)

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.

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


Filling
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!


Monday, February 18, 2008

The Turkey Roost



Finally, another restaurant review. I embarassed Hubby yet again by taking pictures of the food we ordered. We recently went Up North (Northern Michigan) for a long week "Winter Retreat" vacation with great friends, food and fun. I didn't do a great job documenting all the food but I did catch a shot of the "Turkey Plate" at the famous Turkey Roost in Kawkawlin, Michigan.




I first heard of this restaurant from Hubby whose father told him about it. They had stopped once or twice while traveling north for pheasant hunting. Hubby described it as "A full Thanksgiving meal in 5 minutes" and it sounded great. Before our recent vacation in Cheboygan, I did a little research as we were planning to hit up the Turkey Roost the night we drove up.

I happened upon a great article, here - a blog post describing the delicious "Good Eats for Hunters" in Michigan which also provided a tantalizing picture of this feast. His turkey "half plate" looks a lot like my picture of the "Turkey Plate" so I'm not quite sure what the difference is. The Turkey Plate was going for a whopping $6.55 and the taste was home-cooked goodness, even though it has the speed of a cafeteria - it doesn't taste that way. The "1/2 Turkey Plate" is just under $6 so I found it easy to justify getting the full plate and letting Hubby eat the rest of my stuffing, etc. Like noted in the Hunters article, your food will be served within at least 5 minutes... before I was able to return from using the restroom! The article also notes other items on the menu, though I'm not sure how many times I'd have to go before I strayed away from the Turkey Plate.

Finally, we made our way up to Kawkawlin - take exit 168 "Beaver Road" on I-75 and go East for a few miles. At the first traffic light, turn left and look for the Turkey Roost on the right, in a pink building. It is a quick detour from I-75 and I find it well worth the stop. Hubby couldn't help himself and even though we had a turkey dinner the night before we left up north, we stopped at the Turkey Roost on the way home as well. A friend ordered the Hot Turkey Sandwich (substitude on biscuits) which looked quite delicious as well. Those biscuits are awesome!



As you can see in the picture, the Turkey Plate includes: homemade stuffing (hidden under the white and dark meat turkey, and gravy), mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, coleslaw or applesauce, cranberry sauce, and a fresh biscuit. I loved the cranberry and they have honey on most every table to eat with a buttered biscuit, which I ate for dessert. YUMMY. I hope the Turkey Roost stays open for a long time to come and I hope you visit, too!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Bowl, Super Tasty

I was prepared for a boring super bowl night at home, as no one seemed to be around and Hubby was going to a fireMEN party. With plenty to do and no interest in the outcome of the game, that was fine but Sunday morning a few of Tim's friends called and an impromptu Super Bowl "couples" party was suddenly planned for our house that night. EXCELLENT! I was very excited to pick a few tasty appetizers, get out my hot plate and see what we could come up with.


With a few hours notice, I had an idea of what I wanted: mini BBQ bacon cheeseburgers, mini Reubens, and whatever else caught my eye at Nino Salvaggio's, one of the local specialty/international markets. It was the weekend and I knew Nino's would have samples, YES! Another score for my team.


I had already put a box of pathetic looking "chicken fries" (those taste samples always snag me...) in my hand basket when Tom called to say they're stopping at Freeway Fritz on the way home from up north and would bring us some fabulous Frankenmuth Fried Chicken. I set the floppy chicken fries aside, the one thing I had been "unsure" about.. and I had the fixings for the Reubens, Burgers, and a sweet tree: fancy long-stem strawberries which will be dipped in chocolate, and maybe some white chocolate drizzles if time permits.


Back home, the house was ready for guests and I started prepping. The Reubens were a huge hit and a second batch were made later in the game. The mini burgers also tasted great and I just loved them. With the chicken and coleslaw, strawberries.. it was a tasty day and we were all full while we waited for an actually decent commercial (what was the deal this year?????) I was so glad Tom, Gwen, Pat and Amy came over, it was great to catch up.


Anyway, I highly recommend these quick and easy appetizers for any party, especially one that has many manly patrons (these aren't your dainty tea-party apps!)

I apologize for the few and not great pictures... I didn't let taking pictures get in the way of my eating! These little diddies really do look great all together on a platter and I'm sure I'll make them again, and hopefully take more photos then!




Mini Reubens with Homemade Sauce
Makes approximately 3/4s of the Rye Bread package.

Ingredients:
1 Mini Loaf of Square Rye bread
4-5 Tablespoons of Grey Poupon Country-Style Dijon
1.5 lbs of sliced Corned Beef (fresh sliced from the deli if possible)
1 package of Sliced Aged Swiss Cheese
1 Can of Sauerkraut, drained
Optional: Coleslaw instead of sauerkraut (about half of us prefer Reubens this way)

Sauce Ingredients (amounts are approximate, mix and taste for correct consistency)
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons Sweet Pickle Relish
2-4 Tablespoons Ketchup

Pre-heat the oven to 450. On a cookie sheet lined with foil (for easy clean-up), lay out as many of the slices of rye that you can fit. Squirt (or spread) a small bit (teaspoon or more if you like) of the tangy dijon mustard on each of the rye slices. I am not sure if you could taste this by the time you eat the final product, so I'd consider increasing the amount to your liking. Top each rye bread with a small folded pile of corned beef. With the thickness of my slices (thin and small), I used about 1.5 slices per bread. Top with a portion of a slice of swiss cheese (cut to fit and use excess from one on other slices) For those who want sauerkraut, fork a small pile on top of the cheese - as much as you want, and can fit up there.

Pop into the oven and bake for 7-12 minutes or until the cheese is melty, bottoms of the toasts are crispy, and the saurkraut is browning.

While baking, combine the mayonnaise, relish and ketchup until you reach the preferred consistency and taste of your Thousand-Island / Russian Dressing. Make more if needed. If too tangy, add ketchup.. if too bland, add relish, and to cream it up or make more, add Mayo.

Serve Reubens hot, and I kept mine on a heated serving platter. Spoon coleslaw on top of the non-saurkraut versions for a creamy, tangy delicious twist. Serve with mustard for those who don't like Mayo (like Hubby) and otherwise, you might want to make extra sauce... it's delicious spooned over top or used as a dip on an appetizer plate. Enjoy!





Mini Bacon Cheeseburgers

Makes 12 mini burgers (sliders)


Ingredients:

1 Package King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (this is very important - can be found in most stores in the red bag)
1 lb of Ground Sirloin
1 large sweet onion
1 package bacon
1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (original).. could use your own BBQ favorite
1 pkg Thick-sliced Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1-2 Splashes of Worcestershire Sauce
1-2 Shakes of Montreal Steak Seasoning
Fresh ground black pepper
Fresh ground coarse salt
2 tsp Garlic Powder

Cook up the bacon until it's cooked through and slightly crispy, it'll crisp as it cools. I always cook a full pound of bacon because it'll always get used or eaten for something else.. some how bacon never makes it to the "leftovers" category in my house. You will probably only use 8 or 9 slices ,if you're wondering.

Next, I took the sirloin and mixed it with the seasonings - worcestershire, garlic powder, pepper, salt, and whatever other seasonings you like in a tasty hamburger. I rolled the hamburger in to 12 equal-sized balls. I was a little worried they'd be too small but it was the perfect size for the hawaiian buns. I chilled the hamburgers until I was ready to grill them, I thought a fresh burger would be best so I cooked them during the game.

Next, I sliced the onion extremely thinly and sauteed it in some of the bacon grease until it was soft and slightly browned. Another do-ahead step is to slice all the Hawaiian buns through the middle to make hamburger bun tops and bottoms.

One you're ready to get this show on the road, pre-heat the oven to 400 or so. On a cookie sheet lined with tin foil, lay out the bottoms of all of the hawaiian buns. I used the same pan (had some bacon grease still) and after flattening the balls of hamburger into little burgers, I fried them over med-high heat. These won't take too long to cook, but cook to your liking: I tried to keep mine a little pink on the inside, especially since they'll go into the oven for a few minutes later to warm the full-package up.

Once your burgers are cooked, place one on each of the bottom buns. Top with a square of cheese (tear to fit and use extra pieces of 1 slice for the next burger) and then bacon and then fork over some onions. Squirt your preferred amount of BBQ sauce (1 tsp or so) underneath all the bun tops and place the tops onto the burger stacks.

Bake in the oven 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melting down the sides. The hawaiian bun will be slightly crisp on the bottom and the top of the bun will have a small film of delicious buttery goodness all over the top, a bonus that I didn't know would happen in the oven. YUM. I threw these onto my heated serving platter - feel free to serve with mini toppings or at least additional BBQ sauce. They were so delicious, my stomach is grumbling just thinking about it. These little guys are just as delicious ... if not more so... as a greasy-spoon diner's "Sliders" yet no ill after-affects will occur as they sometimes do after a visit to your local Slider establishment. The grease is at least somewhat in check when you control it yourself!