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Gooey Butter Cake Squares

Gooey Butter cake originated in St. Louis. It's a 2-layer concoction, with a cake base and a cheesecake like top. Paula Deen has made several variants on her show. This one is from Christina Tosi (David Chang's pastry chef).

I’m a little torn about this recipe – I thought it was way too sweet, but it got several raves from people who declared that they loved the sweetness. I think the recipe can certainly be improved – I think I would use a lemon cake base and add a little lemon juice and zest to the topping. I think the acid would cut through the sweetness and add some complexity. The dessert is just too single note as is – sweet. However, it is easy to put together and good for a crowd.
 
Gooey Butter Cake Squares
Makes 64 1-inch cookies
This recipe was passed down from Grandma Rosemary, to Greta Tosi-Miller, to Christina Tosi. It’s insanely sweet and tender—an intense two-biter— with a nostalgic perfume and a sticky topping that reminds us quite happily of Tosi’s famous Crack Pie. Greta, she with the unstoppable Christmas spirit, still ships it to Christina during the holidays, slightly under-baked the way her daughter likes it, so that it slides across the baking pan into one gorgeous, vanilla-scented lump by the time it arrives.
For the base
1 pound yellow cake mix (usually one box)
4 ounces butter, melted
1 egg

For the gooey butter topping
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 pound powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make the base by mixing together the dry cake mix, butter and 1 egg. Pat it into a parchment-lined 8-by-8-inch pan.
  2. Make the gooey butter topping by creaming together the cream cheese, remaining 2 eggs, sugar and vanilla. Pour it over the base cake mixture, spreading all the way to the edges. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden brown, and the center still tender, but cooked.
  3. Allow to cool completely in pan. Turn out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch-squares. If it’s important to you that it’s cut nice and evenly, just pop in the freezer until firm, cut while cold, and transfer to mini-muffin papers.

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