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Goooey can be gooood!

By By Lisa Tindell Cook's Corner
I'll admit I don't create very many recipes. I kinda feel good saying that since I know I have a couple of Doctor friends that read this column every week. I'd like to start putting the calorie count, fat content, carbohydrates and cholesterol information with each recipe, but that would sorta take some of the fun out of it all.
So let me offer these words of wisdom for those of you out there who may try the recipes printed here each week: You're on your own and don't give your doctor my name!
I have experimented with a few recipes and added different seasonings or ingredients and omitted some along the way as well. I know most cooks do the same thing, so it's not like hypocrisy when we change things up just a little.
I didn't create these recipes today, but am a big fan of the lady who claims to have created them.
Some lady, who talks with a Southern drawl, has white-gray hair and has her own cooking show on a national network (you can probably guess her name) passed these recipes along in one of her cookbooks. She decided to publish the recipe after it got rave review at the restaurant she owns with her two sons in Savannah, Ga. Man, I hope to get there some day.
At any rate, here is the recipe she gave for Gooey Butter Cakes with several variations included for you to try. I hope you like at least one of them!
Gooey Butter Cakes
For the cake/crust:
1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 egg
One-half cup (1 stick) butter, melted
For the filling:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 (16-ounce) box confectioners' sugar
One-half cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well. Pat into the bottom of prepared pan and set aside. Still using an electric mixer beat cream cheese until smooth; add eggs and vanilla. Dump in confectioners' sugar and beat well. Reduce speed of mixer and slowly pour in butter. Mix well. Pour filling onto cake mixture and spread evenly. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Don't be afraid to make a judgment call on the cooking time, because oven temperatures can vary. You want the center to be a little gooey, so don't bake it past that point! Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares.
These wonderful little cakes are very, very rich, and a little will go a long way. Best served with some good, strong coffee or ice cold milk. I remembered hearing something Truvy said in "Steel Magnolias" - serve it with ice cream to cut the sweet!
Pumpkin Gooey: This variation has to be at the top of my list, especially around Thanksgiving. For the cake part, I sometimes use a spice cake mix. I have even used a chocolate cake mix, but I think my favorite is the basic yellow cake mix. Follow the original recipe, adding a 15-ounce can of pumpkin pie filling and an extra egg to the cream cheese filling. Bake as usual, remove from oven, and allow to cool. Cut into squares and top each square with a pecan half. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. I promise you'll never want pumpkin pie again!
Pineapple Gooey: Add a 20-ounce can of drained crushed pineapple and an extra egg to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.
Lemon Gooey: Use a lemon cake mix in place of the yellow cake. Add the juice (approximately 1/4 cup) and zest of 2 lemons to the cream cheese filling. Proceed: as directed above.
Carrot Cake Gooey: Use a spice cake mix, and add 1 cup chopped nuts and 1 1/2 cup finely grated carrots to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.
Peanut Butter Gooey: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter and an extra egg to cream cheese filling. You can sprinkle the top of batter with 1 cup chopped peanuts if you like. Proceed as directed above.
Chocolate Chip Gooey: Use either yellow or chocolate cake mix. Sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped nuts on top of filling. Proceed as directed above.
Banana Gooey: Use a yellow cake mix. Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas and an extra egg. Proceed as directed above.
Nutty Gooey: Use a yellow cake mix, and add 1 cup chopped nuts to the cake mixture. Proceed as directed above.
Chippy Gooey: Stir 1 cup white chocolate chips, peanut butter chocolate chips, butterscotch morsels, Heath Almond Toffee Bits or Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits into filling. Proceed as directed above.
This next recipe is not one of Paula's but I found this one and thought it sounded great. It goes along with the other recipes and is basically just another variation of something that's bound to be good.
Gooey Caramel Bars
1 (18.25 ounce) package German chocolate cake mix
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
One-half cup evaporated milk
1 pound individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine one-half cup of the butter with the cake mix and egg. Work the mixture with your hands until everything is well blended. The mixture will be crumbly. Press the mixture evenly into a 10 x15 inch jellyroll pan.
Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove and cool for 10 minutes. In a saucepan, combine the remaining one-half cup of butter with the evaporated milk and caramels, over medium heat. Stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and pour the mixture over the baked crust, turning the pan from side to side so that it is evenly coated. Return to the oven, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is bubbly all over. Cool and drizzle with icing. Allow icing to set before cutting into squares. To make the icing, stir together the confectioners' sugar with the water and vanilla until smooth. If the icing is too thick, add more water. If it is too thin, add more confectioners' sugar.
I certainly hope this gives you something to calm your sweet cravings this week.
If you have a recipe or an idea or tip you would like to share, I'd certainly love to hear from you. You can email me at lisa.tindell@brewtonstandard.com. I plan to print your questions, tips and recipes here in future columns. You'll notice that I always give credit where credit is due.
Thanks again and until next week, Happy Cooking!