Friday, September 3, 2010

A gift of Baked Goods

Several years ago we were trying to think of a fun gift to give to our friend David for his birthday. We considered a gift card from his favorite coffee shop or a nice book or a cool travel mug. Then, when considering what he really loves and what we uniquely could give him, it dawned on me that we should give him the gift of Baked Goods: a Dessert-A-Month for a year. I thought it would be fun and it didn’t feel too overwhelming, as it is spaced out over 12 months. Well, you would have thought that we had given him a pony by his excited reaction when we gave him this gift promise.

It was such fun to gather requests each month from him and bake, deliver and then hear feedback. My Dave was the delivery guy many times and often times David would insist they eat some together in that very moment. Dave never rejected the offer. Then they would ooh and ahh together.
So, this year when his birthday rolled around we gave him another year of Dessert- A –Month (I was hesitant because I didn’t want to be redundant, in giving the same gift two years in a row, to which David replied that my hesitation was ridiculous). So the gift is on and each month I will feature a post of The David Dessert of the Month and a story behind it!

My friend Emily recently sent me this great quote that I have saved for this post because it made me think of David.

"When people take a bite of your baking, you want to witness closed eyes, a smile, no talking for a second more than it takes to munch, and then that sigh-- in short, the 'bliss factor'. That's how you know you've done your magic." A Passion for Baking by Mary Goldman

Giving baked goods to people who savor the “bliss” is a joy indeed.

I sent him a message on Tuesday declaring that it is September and it was time for a dessert request. Gooey Butter Bars were his choice for September.

There is some history with David and Gooey Butter Bars.
Last year when they were the request of the month, the bars came out of the oven around 9:30 p.m. Dave called David to see if he could come down the street and bring him the Ooey Gooey. Typically I would cut them and send the majority of the batch and keep a few of them for my Dave and kids. But being hot and gooey, I just sent the entire glass casserole dish. When he arrived David and he each ate a large piece, after which David cut some to send back home with Dave to enjoy later, leaving approximately 2/3rds of the dish remaining. The following evening Dave had eaten his couple of pieces and was feeling gluttonous. He sent a message to David that said, "I ate all of mine!" which David replied, “I ate all of mine too!”
Outrageous!!! The guy is passionate about dessert!

Gooey Butter Bars are buttery, simple and pretty addictive. It is an easy recipe that is made with a cake mix in the crust. The recipe is sometimes considered a cake, but it is really more bar-like.
(Some people liken these to Chess Squares - they may even call these by that name but I don’t agree! I think of Chess Squares as an eggy- dessert and these have cake mix, powdered sugar and cream cheese- which changes everything for me. Chess Squares are one of the few desserts that I can typically resist. These are much harder to resist).

Paula Deen includes this recipe in one of her cookbooks and she gives several variations to change it up. They are fun! I have tried several. I love the chocolate pecan the best. But this week I made the classic, for this was the request of the eater.

Gooey Butter Cake
Click for Printable Recipe

One package yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients and mix well. Pat into a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Prepare filling.

1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick butter, melted
4 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla. Add butter; beat. Add powdered sugar and mix well. Spread over cake mixture. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden. You want the center to be a little gooey so do not over-bake.

Chocolate Pecan: Substitute Chocolate cake mix in the crust. Add mini chocolate chips and chopped pecans on top of filling before baking.

Pumpkin Spice: Add a 15 ounce can of pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg to the filling.

Red Velvet: Substitute red velvet cake mix in the crust.

Carrot Cake: Substitute a spiced carrot cake mix in the crust. Add chopped pecans or walnuts and shredded carrots to the filling.

Lemon: Substitute a lemon cake mix in the crust. Add lemon juice and lemon zest to the filling.


  1. That is an AWESOME birthday gift! I love it. I can't wait for these monthly posts!

  2. I can't decide which to make first. I have a serious love for lemon but pumpkin sounds so good or maybe red velvet as a treat for hubby. Aaaagh!!

  3. If you are ever hesitant in the future about repeating this gift, let me just go ahead and free you up to say "absolutely." This one is a crowd pleaser 100% of the time.

    I am already counting down to October and I think you are nothing short of spectacular, Julie Hunt!