Sunday Rewind: Gettin’ Gooey in St. Louis

Gettin’ Gooey in St. Louis – Originally posted April 11, 2012

As The Rantings of an Amateur Chef has been going since February of 2012, there are quite a few readers that have joined along the way. In an effort to bring back some great recipes that they may have missed, I will dedicate Sundays to re-posting a favorite that is at least two years old. I hope you enjoy! – The Ranting Chef

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.

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

Author:The Ranting Chef

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5 Comments on “Sunday Rewind: Gettin’ Gooey in St. Louis”

  1. February 22, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    Thanks for re-posting, This is on the menu for tonight.


  2. February 22, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    I recently made the gooey cake version printed in the New York Times Thanksgiving food article — 50 states of Thanksgiving or something similar. The cake was the recipe for Missouri. The recipe is not quite the same as yours, but the cake is a winner. I will make it again..


  3. February 22, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    Have never heard of this one. Would love to try it – might have to add it to the list of things to bake 😉


  4. February 22, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    I’m still a newbie to blogging but trust me, hopelessly addicted to your site.
    The chicken thing……amazingly simple. I am thoroughly in need of cool ideas in my kitchen. Your site is great, interesting, and useful. geri


  5. March 2, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    I am from the St. Louis region. And yes, it is a local sweet treat! I worked at premier grocer, Dierbergs Markets School of Cooking for several years. They have a chocolate version of gooey butter cake in one of their cookbooks that is luscious. I think the tart idea would go well with the chocolate version.Thanks for sharing.


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