Gettin’ Gooey in St. Louis

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that if someone wanted to guest blog a post on The Rantings of an Amateur Chef to let me know. Sarah, from The Cook’s Life, reached out and I don’t know if it was the writing and recipes on her blog that got me, or the mention of Gooey Butter Tarts (insert drool), but I am so glad to have her. Welcome Sarah and check out The Cook’s Life!

A St. Louis favorite – restyled

Gooey Butter Cake is supposedly a St. Louis tradition, and is definitely beloved. I never heard about it being a tradition until I was grown, when local restaurants started advertising their “hometown” dessert. But when I was a kid, everyone certainly knew what it was and it often showed up at church dinners and parties and it pretty much always tasted the same, no matter who made it.

Most recipes you will find for Gooey Butter Cake call for a cake mix. I hardly ever use one, and not just because I never have them in the house (the grocery store is only a two-minute drive away), but because it tastes better with your own dry ingredients. My mom used a basic cake recipe as her guideline for replacing the cake mix with dry ingredients from the pantry. Somehow when I moved away from home, I didn’t copy down her measurements for this part of the recipe, so I had to figure out my own proportions. Not sure why I didn’t just call her to get the measurements she used! Feel free to use a cake mix if you like, but the cake really will taste better if you take a few extra minutes to measure out the sugar and flour.

Mom always made Gooey Butter for a Christmas Eve breakfast we hosted for quite a few years when I was growing up. It was easy, predictably successful and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. It is a very sweet cake – meant to be enjoyed in small amounts. I remember several times as a kid eating way too much of it (probably at those breakfast parties when no one notice how much I was eating) and having to lie down for a while until the feeling of over-indulgence went away. Easy to do with something this good.

Lots of bakeries and grocery stores in town sell Gooey Butter Cookies, and I have had homemade ones too. They never taste as good as I think they should. One day Rich and I were talking about Gooey Butter Cookies and how we wished they were more like little Gooey Butter Tarts (doesn’t every couple discuss food minutiae at the dinner table?). We wondered if muffin pans could figure into the picture, and we had all the ingredients, so I experimented while Rich did the dishes. And so the Gooey Butter Tart recipe was born.

Gooey Butter Tarts

from The Cook’s Life

Makes 24 tarts


1 ¾ cups flour*

1 cup sugar*

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder*

¾ teaspoon salt*

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 egg



8-oz. block cream cheese (1/3 less fat works fine), room temperature

2 eggs

3 cups powdered sugar

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 24 muffin cups – do not use cupcake papers. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix in melted butter and egg. Press a scant 1/8 cup of crust mixture into each muffin cup and set aside.

In same bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in eggs until well blended. Make sure the mixture is smooth. Add powdered sugar and mix well. Divide filling evenly among muffin cups, using a little more than a tablespoon per cup. Sprinkle each with powdered sugar.

Bake about 15 minutes, or until filling is mostly set and edges of each tart are just starting to get golden brown. Let tarts cool in pans on rack for 20-30 minutes so they can firm up. Run a knife around the edge of each tart before removing it to a rack to cool completely.

*You can substitute a yellow or white cake mix for the dry ingredients in the crust. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Baking, Cheese, Dessert, French, Guest, kosher, Recipes, Vegetarian

Author:The Ranting Chef

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32 Comments on “Gettin’ Gooey in St. Louis”

  1. April 11, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    those look so yummy and easy too. i am going to try this recipe. thanks for sharing


  2. April 11, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    They are crowd stoppers when you take them to a party. And unless people ask for the recipe, they don’t have to know how easy they are to make!


  3. April 11, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Oh my. What a wonderful take on a St. Louis tradition! I grew up in St. Louis ( I only moved away a year ago) and gooey butter cake was one of those thing that everyone just took for granted (like toasted ravioli, which I also cannot find in TX). When we moved, I made gooey butter cookies for my inlaws, who absolutely freaked out.


  4. April 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    ok, I wanted to thank you…I not only gained 2 lbs just looking at this succulent little beauty, but i destroyed my key board when the drooling kicked in!!! Oh My, I will be trying this—maybe NOW!


  5. April 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    So… this recipe isn’t exactly the best for the arteries, but coming from a German family, I’m ALL about the butter cake. What a nostalgic and tasty find!


  6. April 11, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    Make them to take to a party or other event so you aren’t tempted by the whole batch!


  7. April 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm #



  8. Alli
    April 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    OMG, this looks sooooo good! I’ve actually be thinking that once I finish cooking my 26 dishes from around the globe, my next project might be cooking a dish from or representing each state. If I do that this is a lock for Missouri.


  9. April 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Woah. I’m from St Louis and grew up on Gooey Butter cake and Cookies. What a great idea to turn the cake into mini form! I’ve got to try this!


  10. trishlee75
    April 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    I only have five things to say as I read this recipe – yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. So delicious looking! I’m going to have to print this one for my recipe box and give it a try.


  11. April 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    too much goodness here.


  12. April 11, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    I hadn’t heard of these until I worked at Vie Restaurant (and I was old then). I must have made 1,000 of these in the time i worked there. They were a big hit – slightly different recipe, but details are not mine to share…


    • April 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

      You’ve had gooey butter tarts before?! I thought I was being so innovative. I haven’t seen anything but the cookies and the cake.


  13. thebeadden
    April 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Mmmmm…that looks yummy! Thanks for sharing.


  14. April 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    Oh god why did I visit your blog at 11:30 pm, while in bed?? That photo made my teeth hurt, but only in the very best of ways!! Drool…


  15. April 12, 2012 at 12:00 am #

    First of all I LOVE gooey butter cake!! My friend introduced it to me last year, and I haven’t stopped dreaming about it. I’ve been wanting to replicate it myself, but without the cake mix. Thank you so much for this recipe!


  16. April 12, 2012 at 2:58 am #

    Looks simple and tasty – and yeah – sweet. What’s the cookie recipe BTW? I’m always interested in cookie recipes.


    • April 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

      I don’t actually have a recipe for the cookies (I never kept one since I wasn’t impressed with the results), but I imagine you can find one with an internet search. Most of the ones I have seen and tried have been pretty much the same as a gooey butter cake recipe, but with all the ingredients mixed together, so you miss out on the actual gooey part! That is why I experimented making the tarts. I have to warn you that the cookies are not as good as the cake, in my opinion. Some people love them, though!


  17. April 12, 2012 at 4:13 am #

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and thank you for the “like” s !!


  18. April 12, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    I’ve made gooey butter cake once, and I used a box mix for the bottom. If making it homemade makes it taste better (how is that possible?), then I’m going to have to give it a try!


    • April 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

      When you make it from scratch instead of a mix, you get rid of the “chemical” taste that some cake mixes can have from the preservatives and additives. And you can control the sugar amount a bit. I know, I know, there is a ton of sugar in the filling, but through lots of adjusting I cut down on the sugar in the crust a bit so they aren’t so tooth-achingly sweet!


  19. April 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    I grew up eating Gooey Butter cake. I moved after college to Arizona and couldn’t find it here. I was shocked! Didn’t EVERYBODY have Gooey Butter Cake? I can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks!


  20. April 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    i’ve got to try these this weekend


  21. April 13, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Gooey = Gooooood



  22. April 15, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    I love gooey butter cake and sometimes buy it at the grocery store for a real sludge. I know it is so bad for me, but it tastes so good. I will definitely try this recipe at home! Thanks for sharing!


  23. April 15, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    I hate autocorrect! Splurge not sludge!


  24. April 18, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    I love regional specialities but I hadn’t heard of this one, thanks for sharing. 🙂


  25. huntfortheverybest
    June 4, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    these tarts sound delicious! one of my first assignments at Family Circle was tracking down a recipe for gooey butter cake that didn’t use a cake mix. thanks for visiting my blog!



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