Wednesday, December 22, 2010

If You Can't Be With The One You Love, Honey, Make a Fattening Dessert

This is not a cooking blog.

Let's get that clear right from the get-go. I completely suck at meal preparation. I would LOVE to be able to sit down to dinner and actually look forward to the food that I just spent minutes hours preparing, but most nights that just isn't happening. Usually I just grin & bear it, choking down the Shepherd's Pie or Beef Tips or Baked Chicken, and then I snarf some chips after the kids have gone to bed.

What? They're Cheddar Cheeese & Sour Cream chips so I'm totally getting my dairy group in.

Anyway, I suck at meal prep but I kinda rock at the dessert prep. I have always had a sweet tooth and put it to good use in the kitchen. I'm no Paula Deen, but I can definitely hold my own with the other room mothers.

Shifting gears for a moment (don't worry, you'll see where this is going...), I am starting to miss being so far away from family. I have no one to run over at a moment's notice to watch the kids while I run to the hospital after cutting off my finger(tip). I miss all my nieces' and nephews' school plays and piano recitals and school graduations. I never get to go to my parent's house for dinner on Sunday evenings, let alone Easter or Christmas or Mother's Day or my birthday. I see my parents at most, twice a year. I see my sister once a year. My two brothers have never been to Texas since we moved here, and I only see them when I go back up to St. Louis. I don't hold this against anyone of them, though. I know exactly how hard it is to get vacation time from work, how expensive a plane ticket is, and traveling with small kids is just a nightmare in and of itself.

But still, a hug is a hug. I miss my older brother's scratchy beard when he kisses me on the cheek. I miss my sister's squeeze that lasts until I'm the first one to let go. I miss my other brother's gentle teasing and the same smile I saw every day of my childhood. A web cam just doesn't do it. Hugging good friends is so nice and warm and genuine, but it's just not the same as hugging my own family. The last time I went home, my mom actually broke down crying the night before I left, after we had a late-night gab session. She cried, "I don't want you to go!" I was so shocked, I had never seen her do that before. It made me realize how much I really missed her too, and how much I didn't want to go back to Texas either.

So, this Christmas, it's just like Thanksgiving: another big meal, prepared by me, with me doing the dishes. No one is visiting us, we're not visiting anyone else. I'm not making a dish to bring and share. I'm not cleaning up my house for guests to join us. We aren't looking forward to anything different. (Of course, we are looking forward to the birth of Christ. That's not what I'm talking about.) So, this Saturday will just be... Saturday. We'll open presents. We'll clean up shredded paper. Then the kids will start arguing about who gets to play the Wii first, we'll calm our nerves by telling them to go clean their rooms, they will roll their eyes at us, and then Saturday will be just like every single other day of the year.

SO ANYWAY, maybe to make myself feel better, I decided to make a Gooey Butter Cake. It's something that my mom made when I was a kid. I just always remember it being a go-to dessert in our household. I've heard that it's a St. Louis thing, but I don't know that for sure. I do know that it's a bit of a novelty down here so I like to bring it for Church potluck dessert and have people OOH and AAH. Gooey Butter Cake makes me remember my family, my hometown, and just makes my tummy melt (and my teeth cry a little bit.) This recipe is the semi-homemade version. I won't claim to be a gourmet cook but this cake is pretty awesome and SO easy to make. One of the (many) benefits of it is that it might be coffee cake, it might be dessert, so you can serve it ANY TIME OF DAY!!!

If you are getting together with family or friends, you might make it to share with your loved ones and you'll be the hit of the party. And, one last favor on my behalf: if you know someone who's going to be by themselves on Christmas, ask them to join you. They might say no. But then again, if they are anything like me, they are just waiting for an invitation.

Gooey Butter Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter
1 egg

1 8-oz brick cream cheese
2 eggs
1 lb (or 4 cups) powdered sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Let your oven preheat well. Once the air inside is 350 degrees, the oven will indicate it's ready, but it still needs more time for the walls and ceiling to also reach 350. Uniform cooking temp throughout the oven will lead to better results, especially when baking.
2. Spray a 13x9 pan with cooking spray. Don't use other sizes - they won't work. TRUST ME, I'VE TRIED. I used two 8x8, I used the Perfect Brownie pan, I used an 11x7, all failures.
3. Melt the butter in the microwave. Add the cake mix and stir together. In a separate bowl or cup, break the egg and beat it, then add it to the butter/cake mix. Mix well. (This is the crust)

4. Put the crust mixture in the 13x9 pan and press to make it uniformly flat. I actually use a skinny rolling pin. Set this aside while you make the topping.
5. Put the cream cheese in a bowl and soften it by zapping it in the micro for 30 seconds on 50% power, then flip it over and do it again. In a separate bowl or cup, break the two eggs and beat them, then add them to the cream cheese and beat well with an electric mixer.
6. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and beat until it's really creamy. I noticed that it looked a lot like lemon custard until I added that last cup of powdered sugar, then it looked more like sweetened condensed milk. IT IS SO DELICIOUS (I give you permission to lick the beaters.)
7. Pour the topping on the crust in the 13x9 pan but don't mix them together. Spread the topping to the edges of the crust using a spatula. (I give you permission to lick that too - AFTER you're done, please.)
8. Put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Check for a golden brown top.

9. When you remove it from the oven, give it time to cool before slicing (just like brownies). You can also sprinkle powdered sugar on the top for extra prettiness, but that's your call.

This is my Christmas present to you. So enjoy it, damnit.

Texan Mama


Prairie Mother said...

My brother and I just returned to KS from IN after a 1800 mile (driving and not stopping at hotels)trip with 3 kids for Christmas with our fam. Hubby couldn't get the days off work. The visit wasn't nearly long enough and not one that I can see myself making again anytime soon.

You aren't alone and I feel for you. I've found family food very comforting too, especially around the holidays. Thanks for sharing your recipe. Gooey = great!

Have a Happy Holidays.

Gigi said...

Yummy!! I will enjoy it. Anything with a full stick of butter, cream cheese & that much powdered sugar has to be good!

It looks like a familiar recipe - I may have made something similar before.

Have you thought about inviting other transplants over for Christmas (or other holiday) - that's what we usually do. That way all of us without our families still can get that "celebration" feel.

Now, I'm off to see if I have those will have made Man-Child's day if I do end up making this.

Leslie Limon said...

The title alone was enough to get me hooked! :) That cake looks DELICIOUS and it has all of my favorite things: cake, butter, cream cheese, butter and did I mention butter? :)

The Nice One said...

Alll the things I love and miss...butter...Philadelphia....and CAKE MIX. Oh Enjoy mama!

Bridgett said...

It's a regional thing, pretty sure. They have whole stores dedicated to different flavors of gooey butter cake up here in STL. But my inlaws near Cape Girardeau have a version on a (ewww) yeast bread crust.

Anyway, more importantly, merry Christmas to you & your family. My family growing up spent many ordinary Christmases (celebration/family wise, I mean, like you do here) in Texas without visitors and without visiting. I'm very lucky now as an adult to be able to spend it with both our families...and this year my brother and his wife and daughter came up from TX to celebrate with us...bittersweet...for the first time in 10 years.

I can dig it.

Jennifer said...

I wonder if I can make it with white cake mix. I have one of those and all of the other ingredients. It looks super yummy.

I wish we lived closer because you could totally come to my house. We could lock the kids in the back yard and sit at the kitchen table and eat cake.

Jennifer said...

Good thing you included the recipe.. I was about to berate you for mentioning something called Gooey Butter Cake TWICE and not including a recipe. And, I totally know how you feel... we aren't near any family either and in the twelve years that we have been married and away from home, we have only had someone come to visit for Christmas once. My kids don't know the joys of traveling between grandparents' homes, playing with cousins and sharing the tales of your Christmas morning with them while overloading on sugar. It's like any other day here too... except with presents.

Emily said...

We are actually staying home this year and it kind of feels weird not to be visiting family. You know, my family frequently were home by ourselves at Christmas (as we were the only ones who lived out of state) and those Christmases when it was just me, my parents, and brothers are the ones I like to remember best. I'm sure even though it might feel like an ordinary day, it's still special for your children and you're creating memories and traditions they will carry with them. Merry Christmas, Texan Mama!

Jennifer said...

oh noooo! you have your site set up so you can't copy/paste don't you? I just tried to copy/paste your recipe into a word document so I could print it and put it in my recipe folder. I don't want to keep running back and forth to the computer while trying to make it.

mama hall said...

bummer dudette i wish i'd seen this recipe 24hours ago before i fried a boxed yellow cake and had to disguise how depressed it was by covering it in powdered sugar.

i know what you mean about missing family this time of year. i have a hug for ya next time i see you :)

Leiah said...

I always thought this was a Paula Deen original recipe, then after seeing it on her show I found the recipe on the box of Kroger brand cream cheese ~ talk about being thoroughly confused. It's not Thanksgiving without a pumpkin gooey buter cake. We also make one with a chocolate base and add peanut butter to the cream cheese topping mixture. Everyone loves it. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Walker Family said...

My family is also from MO. We have relatives in Farmington and Sullivan (and few scattered in other parts). I love Gooey Butter Cake. Going to try this out and get a reminder of my Grandparents. Hope you had a great Christmas even if it was just here in Texas. Thanks.

Loralee Choate said...

I seriously think this is a must to try out. A MUST.

Heather said...

You crack me up! Thanks for being the only one to link up to my new blog today. Even if it was an oldie, but a goodie. And I agree....Gooey Butter Cakes are the bomb diggity!! :)