Gooey Butter Cookies

These are my favorite cookies to eat, and so they're what I make the most.

These cookies taste quite a bit like gooey butter cake. They're quite sweet with a buttery taste that's not overwhelming. They're best when soft and especially warm.

Gooey butter cake is a sort of coffee cake, peculiar to St. Louis. The legend goes that a baker was making yellow cake, and accidentally added the butter twice.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (1 package)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 18.5-ounce package yellow cake mix
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter.
  2. Stir in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Add cake mix, and stir until well blended. (It's best to add the mix ¼ of the package at a time.)
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. (This is to make the dough less sticky; otherwise it's hard to roll into balls. If it gets sticky again, coat your fingers with powdered sugar or put it back in the fridge for a while.)
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 degrees C).
  6. Roll into 1" to 1½" balls and then roll the balls in powdered sugar.
  7. Place 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the balls down a bit.
  8. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes. The idea is to keep them as soft as possible while giving them enough firmness to hold their shape.
  9. Sprinkle powdered sugar on hot cookies.
  10. Let cookies cool about 3-5 minutes to firm up. Remove from cookie sheets.

Yield

Makes about 60 small cookies.

Variations

I like to add green and red food coloring (to separate batches) for Christmas cookies. (I usually make 2 batches of each color.) Sometimes I'll add colored sugar or Christmas sprinkles.

You can use 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or 2 packages of cream cheese. I’ve seen both variants on the Internet. The cream cheese is less fattening, but I like to split the difference to keep some more of the buttery taste. (It seems that most of the Internet recipes use both.) I like to use the reduced-fat cream cheese as well; again, I split the difference - half regular cream cheese, half reduced-fat.

Sugar-free yellow cake mix seemed to work as well as regular yellow cake mix. Not as good as yellow cake mix with extra butter in the mix, though. I'll probably try adding another stick of butter next time I do sugar-free cake mix; if that works, I'll likely make that my default recipe. Sugar-free powdered sugar did not seem to work well; it melts and mostly evaporates.

Chocolate cake mix didn’t work out too well. It tasted fine, but no buttery goodness of the originals.

Credits

This is my (Craig Buchek's) recipe, based on a couple recipes I found on the Internet circa 2002. This was one of the recipes (along with the comments).

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