I feel like “bars” are a distinctly midwestern thing and ooey gooey butter bars are a distinctly Missourian thing. They remind me of being a kid and, sadly, I haven’t seen them since I left the state 12 years ago. They are the kind of recipe that makes me feel just a little bit bad about myself; it consists primarily of yellow cake mix and butter. That’s not real baking. Growing up, there were only a few reasons to have a boxed cake or brownie mix in the house-this was, of course, one of them-and to this day I have trouble shaking that cheating feeling when I use one. But you just cannot get around the fact that these are spectacular. So if you’re a from-scratch girl like myself, suck up your pride and grab a box of cake mix. I won’t tell.
I have no idea what recipe my mom used when I was a kid, so when I decided to make these, I turned directly to the queen of butter-Paula Deen. She did not disappoint and as far as I can tell, this is a totally traditional, fakey-awesome recipe. The crust, made up of yellow cake mix and butter, is just a semi-solid base for the real magic on top. Everytime I have these things I have a mental debate about what they might be. I always guess some sort of corn syrup–based concoction due to their distinctly sticky, pecan pie–like texture. But no, it’s so much simpler than that-and more real. Cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter come together to make a soft, sticky, addictive pillow that’s ever so slightly crunchy on top. The cake and the goo layers meld together and, oh man, what you’re left with is something totally indulgent, totally bad for you and totally, totally, worth every inch of guilt (or shame) you may feel.
Ooey Gooey Butter Bars
From Paula Deen. Makes ~24 bars.
There are some “real” recipes floating around out there, but honestly, the whole point of this is that it’s a midwestern “church dinner” recipe, as my step-mom would put it: it takes 20 minutes to pull together, involves some sort of fake, is delicious, and that’s all that matters.
1, 18.25 oz package yellow cake mix
8 T butter, melted
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 t vanilla
8 T butter, melted
1, 16 oz box powdered sugar
- Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13×9″ baking pan
- In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, 1 egg, and 8 T butter and mix well
- Pat the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan
- In a large bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth
- Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together
- Add the powdered sugar a mix very well
- Spread the filling over the crust and bake for ~40 to 50 minutes Do not over bake; the center should be a bit gooey…They’re ooey gooey butter bars after all!