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Jul 10, 201510:22 AM
Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

For the Love of Gooey Butter

When I started my first “real” job, one in which I worked from 8:30 to 5 every day and sat at a desk for most of that time, a tradeoff I was totally willing to make in exchange for a decent salary and health insurance, I had a lot of free time. In fact, I had never had so much free time: College and grad school had been a blend of intense studying and working a variety of part-time jobs to pay my bills, and a typical day involved attending classes until 2, working a shift at the ice cream store until 10, and then writing a paper until 2 a.m. Suddenly, though, I had a huge block of my day accounted for, but then … nothing from 5 p.m. until bedtime. I took a lot of walks out in the country with my puppy. I went to the library at least twice a week. I watched mindless TV and shopped at Target with my best friend and went to see live music (which was usually not great because I was in mid-Missouri, but hey). I briefly attempted to take up needlepoint. I played bar trivia every Thursday. Oh, and I cooked. I had always loved to cook, but now I just had so much more time to devote to reading and trying recipes, grocery shopping and elaborate preparations, to say I cooked so much; I cooked everything; I cooked all the time.

I cooked a three-day coq-au-vin. I cooked fancy pastries and casual souffles. Sometimes I cooked food I was homesick for. I cooked red beans all the time, jambalaya once a month, and gumbo on special occasions. Once I even managed to find some fresh crawfish (with fat!) at a specialty foods store, and I made a kick-ass Crawfish Monica in the Show-Me State. But mostly, I just cooked because it was fun, and I was good at it, and I loved to feed people.

When I marked my first month on the job, I decided to celebrate by making pralines for everyone. My boss there was from Louisiana and had an intense sweet tooth, and I knew they’d make a good impression. And of course they did: It’s impossible to go wrong with brown sugar, butter, and pecans. (The King Cake I later made was a different story.)

Now, of course, I’m back in New Orleans, thank God, but it’s funny how the world works sometimes: I had a boss from Louisiana when I lived in Missouri, and now that I’m back in Louisiana, I have a boss from Missouri. She just started a few days ago, and we briefly discussed St. Louis delicacies (because that’s the only way to discuss St. Louis delicacies).

To celebrate her first week on the job, I’m going to make one of the only things I miss from St. Louis – gooey butter cake. Now that I have two kids, I have a whole lot less free time, but fortunately, gooey butter cake is not even close to the difficulty level of pralines (which aren’t even that hard themselves, honestly).

I know the recipes on the website typically fall to our food writers, including my husband, but just in case anyone here is curious, I’m going to go ahead and share it. It’s not as good as pralines, but it’s pretty damn good.

 

St. Louis-Style Gooey Butter Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
3 eggs
1 package of full-fat cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 tsp. of vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar, plus more for dusting

 

  • Preheat your oven to 325.
  • Blend together the cake mix, melted butter, and one of the eggs, and press with clean hands into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
  • Blend the remaining two eggs with the cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cake crust layer.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden-brown – do not overbake or it won’t be as deliciously “gooey.”
  • After it’s cooled, dust with powdered sugar.

 

 

 

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Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

about

        Eve is further proof, if any is needed, that New Orleans girls can never escape the city. After living here since the age of 3 and graduating from Ben Franklin High School, Eve moved to Columbia, Mo., where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Missouri School of Journalism and became truly, unhealthily obsessed with grammar.She had originally intended to strike out to New York City and work in the cutthroat magazine industry there, but after Katrina, Eve felt a strong pull to return home, to her roots, her family, her waterlogged and struggling city – and a much more forgiving work atmosphere that would allow her to skip a routine of everyday makeup and size 0 designer label business suits and enjoy the occasional cocktail or three with an absurdly fattening lunch. She moved back home in January 2008 and lives in Mid-City with her two daughters, Ruby and Georgia; her stepson, Elliot; and her husband, Robert Peyton.Eve blogs about the joys and struggles of living in post-Katrina New Orleans, the unique problems and delights of raising a child in such a diverse and challenging city – including her experiences with the public education system – and her always entertaining and extremely colorful family.Eve has won numerous writing awards, including the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Gold Medal, the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for column-writing and Press Club of New Orleans awards for her Editor’s Note in New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and for this blog, most recently winning the award for "Best Feature Affiliated Blog."She welcomes comments, advice, empty flattery, recipes, drink invitations and – most especially – grammatical or linguistic debates.

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