Gooey Butter Tarts


I wrote a post about gooey butter tarts last year, as a guest blogger on The Ranting Chef. I think I might just want to feature them again. These are just too good to be lost in the archives of recipes, without a shout-out every so often.

I took these into Rich’s office yesterday, and everyone went gaga for them. Several people wanted the recipe and they all wanted to know if they were hard to make. Here is the recipe, as promised. And, no, they are not hard to make. Which is probably a bad thing – they are pretty addictive.

Gooey butter cake is everywhere in St. Louis. Anyone who has lived here for even a few months comes across it sometime. And it isn’t to be missed – cakey, buttery crust filled with a sweet, sweet cream cheese filling.

Rich and I came up with a tart variation a few years ago. Along with gooey butter cake, there are gooey butter cookies. They have some of the taste of gooey butter, but they don’t have the lovely creamy filling. I was missing the contrast between the soft, sweet filling and the buttery crust. I loved the idea of a handheld gooey butter treat, but the cookies just weren’t doing it for me.

We discussed the issue over dinner, and wondered what would happen if we pressed the crust in the bottoms of muffin cups and topped it with the filling. It worked perfectly, baking up into individual rounds of golden yellow outlined in golden brown crust. Now we make the tarts more often than we make the cake.

The tarts are great to take to parties or wherever you need an easy-to-serve, easy-to-eat dessert. Or you can serve them on your best china to the most discerning of guests. Take a batch into work and make your co-workers swoon with delight. Or eat them alone in your kitchen, standing next to the counter. I won’t tell.

Download or print the recipe here.

Gooey Butter Tarts
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 24 tarts

These are best at room temperature. Be sure to let them cool all the way before you eat or serve them.

1¾ cups flour
1 cup sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg

8-oz. block cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
3 cups powdered sugar
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 24 muffin cups – do not use cupcake papers.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix in melted butter and egg. Press a little less than 2 tablespoons of crust mixture into each muffin cup and set aside.

In same bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in eggs until well blended. Add powdered sugar and mix well. Divide filling evenly among muffin cups, using a little more than 2 tablespoons per cup. Sprinkle each with powdered sugar.

Bake 13-15 minutes, or until filling is mostly set and edges of each tart are just starting to turn golden brown. Filling will be puffy, but it will flatten as they cool. Let tarts cool in pans on rack for about 15 minutes so they can firm up. Run a knife around the edge of each tart before removing it to a rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for a few days, in a single layer or with parchment or waxed paper between layers, as they tend to stick to each other. Freeze for longer storage. Thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours.

8 thoughts on “Gooey Butter Tarts

  1. I can imagine how fast those disappeared at your husband’s office although if I had been the one to bring them in, they never would have made it there.
    ps…thanks for sending out the cooler, dry air – much appreciated.

    • I have made them in mini-muffin pans. They are really good that way. I do have one warning: don’t fill the mini pans more than halfway. If the filling overflows the top of the cups it sticks like anything and then you have a huge mess on your hands. I had to chip them out of the pans, which absolutely destroyed them. I ended up mushing the mess together and using a mini cookie scoop to make gooey butter balls. They were good, but not what I was looking for. As long as you only fill the cups halfway, or less, you should be good.

    • Thank you! Yes, you can absolutely bake them in a pan. The original recipe is for a cake, but I adapted it to make tarts.

      For a cake: press the crust mixture into a flat layer in the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan. Pour the filling in and spread it to the edges. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. When it’s done the edges will be golden brown and the whole top will be puffy. The middle will still be jiggly. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into small squares.

      Let me know how it turns out for you when you make it.

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