Sweet Scout: Gooey Butter Cake

Oct 2, 2009 at 11:23 am
click to enlarge Sweet Scout: Gooey Butter Cake
User "Jellyfish Juice," Wikimedia Commons
Gooey butter cake and I go way back. It's the only thing my mom and I made from scratch on a regular basis when I was a kid. I loved the whole process. Shopping for the right cake mix (no pudding!) and cream cheese (never do fat free -- it just doesn't work). Breaking the eggs into the bowls and then fishing out bits of shell because I never could crack an egg worth a damn. Spreading that thick, soon-to-be crust across the bottom of the green pan we always used and pouring the gooey, cheese-cakey layer on top.

Our gooey butter cake was perfect. It's something I've made, alone, well into my adult years. There's only one problem with my childhood favorite: Until fairly recently I didn't realize gooey butter cake could be anything other than that recipe. Actually, until fairly recently, I didn't even know there was a problem. Why screw with wild, tasty success, right?

click to enlarge Sweet Scout: Gooey Butter Cake
Adrienne Jones
The thing that changed my mind is pretty simple. I bought a cookbook. Within the pages of The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook (and Financial Planner) there hid a recipe that would change my desserting life: Atlanta Allelujah. I remember looking over the ingredients and having a major epiphany. Let's see: chocolate cake mix, peanut butter, eggs, regular butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar....

Holy crap! This is a gooey butter cake! With chocolate! And peanut butter! Why didn't someone tell me about this earlier?

Which brings me to last month when my husband and I were at a Central West End dive bar where there was no food. After a couple of drinks, we were starved, so I steered us to Coffee Cartel, figuring they must have something to help us soak up the booze.

I was really just looking for a sandwich, and while they had those, do you know what else I found? Six different kinds of gooey butter cake! I thought I was dreaming. Suddenly everything made so much sense. Blueberry? I love blueberries; bring it on. Cinnamon? People, I live and die for cinnamon. Chocolate? Man, they are reading my freakin' mind!

After trying a couple pieces then, I went back this week to sample all six. With one exception, they were outstanding. The blueberry, regular, cinnamon, chocolate and pecan gooey butter cakes were just what they should be. The crust was thick, chewy and crispy. Their gooey tops were flaky, sweet and a bit fluffy. Anything that was added to give that childhood standby recipe some oomph was dosed just right so that it never overpowered. These are heaven for any sweet tooth.

The one I'd pass over is the apple-cinnamon. I appreciate the inclusion of real apples, but I think the moistness led to the plain-tasting, overly gloppy flat cake we ended up with.

Even better: Turns out Coffee Cartel gets their gooey-butter cakes from Park Avenue Coffee, which offers 64 different flavors! 64 different reasons to sample more gooey butter cake? To be continued...

Adrienne Jones is a writer, photographer and world-class eater who blogs at A Girl and Her Camera. She loves desserts and has been known to take to a frosting tub with little more than a spoon and a well-tuned sweet tooth. She will report on her latest favorite treat for Gut Check every other Friday.