I thought I’ve seen them all when it comes to cakes and dessert bars. Recently, I was introduced to gooey butter bars and this has opened my eyes to a whole new world of sweets I have yet to explore!
They’re a popular, long-standing St. Louis treat. While there are numerous various on the gooey butter bars, it’s basically a two layered dessert. It starts with a shortbread crust bottom and topped with a melt in your mouth butter cake.
Together, these two layers create this decadent delightful little treat.
While these gooey butter bars are perfectly fine as is, they’re the perfect blank canvas to garnish with your favorite fruits. I added a combination of strawberries and grapefruit segments on top. It’s the ideal transitional dessert to say farewell to the citrus of winter and hello to the berries of spring and summer. Forget strawberry shortcakes and peach buckles this summer, I’m going to be making all sorts of variations on these gooey bars!
While you wait for the gooey butter bars to cool down and set up, I marinated the fruits in a liquid mixture of honey and grated ginger (for a little zing!). Once the gooey butter bars are ready for serving, drain the fruits and add them to the cake bars. Save the marinating juice to lightly drizzle on top of butter bars, or use it sweetened iced tea! Add a few sprigs of mint for the final touch of pop and freshness. If you’d like, a dollop of freshly whipped cream adds another dimension of luxury. Be sure to cut small portions. These gooey butter bars pack a big punch and you really only need a little slice to be super happy!
Here are my changes to the original GOOEY BUTTER BARS recipe:
- Instead of 2/3 cup half-and-half, I used 2/3 cup whole milk.
- Instead of 1/2 tsp almond extract, I used 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Add 1/4 tsp fine sea salt to cake batter
- Instead of 3 cups strawberries, I used a mixture of strawberries and grapefruit segments.
- Add fresh mint to garnish
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Hi, Beth here again, assistant digital food editor for BHG. We taste a lot of food everyday at Better Homes and Gardens when we attend taste panels (where we get to try the recipes that are going to be published months ahead of time). It’s one of the perks of being a food editor. But after awhile, recipes start to blur together. So when a recipe stands out in my mind weeks, even months, after I tried it in a taste panel, I know one thing: it is dang good. I have been daydreaming about making these Gooey Butter Bars with Gingered Strawberries for weeks now, and am soooo excited to finally share them with you guys along with the rest of our recipes from the May issue.
Some desserts have an amazing texture, or an addicting flavor, or just look pretty, but this dessert is all of those things. The buttery dessert bar has the most insane texture that’s both cakey and light at the same time. Plus, it pretty much melts in your mouth. Couple that with tart sweetness of gingered raspberries and, well, you’ve got a treat made in spring dessert heaven. It’s also so pretty that it’s bound to to make your guests do one of those delighted little dessert gasps. You know what I’m talking about.
I really liked that the bars came together using ingredients I already had at home. The only items I had to buy were the ginger and the strawberries. Plus, preparing the bars couldn’t have been easier. When we shot the recipe for the magazine, we show how to make the crust using a party blender. I don’t own a pastry blender, so I just used my hands. My grandma always taught me how to make pie dough with my hands, and this worked much the same. You’re just looking for the texture to become crumbly with the butter evenly distributed. Next I just pressed the crumbly dough into a parchment-lined pan.
After that, I spread the filling over the crust. Since the crust is kind of crumbly, just be sure to delicately spread the filling, making sure it doesn’t mix with the crust too much. At one point, I dropped my bowl into the batter as I was pouring it. Even this klutzy move didn’t affect the look of the bars, so they’re pretty much foolproof.
Here were my notes for success:
- I didn’t need a pastry blender for the crust. Mixing it with my hands until crumbly worked just fine.
- It did take a little longer to bake in my oven (all ovens are different) so I just watched until it was golden throughout and the edges were a little darker than the middle.
- Though I photographed the bars with the berries on, it was easier to leave the berries off until just before serving. I stored them in a separate container so the strawberry juices wouldn’t soak into my buttery cake until the moment I served it.
- Also, I love ginger so I added in a bit more than the recipe called for, and it was amazing, just a little zippier.
- I highly suggest bringing it into the office and then listening to your coworkers “oooh” and “aaah” as a Monday afternoon treat. Just an idea.
So what are you waiting for? Get the recipe here!