Desserts · Recipes

Russell’s Gooey Butter Bars

This is Russell's on Macklind's take on Gooey Butter Cake, the St. Louis delicacy: he replaced the cake bottom with shortbread, which is a very nice improvement on the original.
Prep Time35 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Resting Time1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cream cheese, pastry, shortbread
Servings: 12 bars


  • 9"x13" metal baking pan (a.k.a, quarter sheet pan)
  • a medium bowl
  • Electric mixer and a second medium bowl (its own bowl, if it's a standing mixer)
  • a rubber spatula
  • a kitchen scale
  • a sifter


  • 12 oz confectioner's sugar (about 3 cups; for topping)
  • 2 tbsp more confectioner's sugar (about ½ oz; for dusting on top)
  • 8 oz cream cheese (1 package)
  • 6 oz flour (about 1 cup)
  • 4 oz butter (1 stick; for crust)
  • 2 oz more butter (½ stick; for topping)
  • 2 oz granulated sugar (about 1/4 cup)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • baking spray (the kind with flour in it)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Get the 9×13 baking pan, the first mixing bowl, and the kitchen scale
  • Soften the butter in the microwave or whatever
    4 oz butter, 2 oz more butter
  • Grease the baking pan with the baking spray
    baking spray

Make The Crust (15 min)

  • (This is a standard 1:2:3 shortbread dough ratio of sugar:butter:flour)
  • Get the first medium bowl (not the mixer's)
  • Put the flour into it
    6 oz flour
  • Add the sugar
    2 oz granulated sugar
  • Add 4 oz (1 stick) of the softened butter
    4 oz butter
  • Knead the dough by hand until it comes together into a ball
  • Press the dough onto the bottom of the baking pan, and just a little raised on the sides.
    Place the dough ball in the middle of the pan, flatten it until it's very thin, and keep pressing to push dough outward to the edges, until the whole pan is covered.

Heat and Cool the Crust (50 min)

  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until light golden brown
  • Take the pan out and let the crust cool for about 30 minutes, leaving the oven on 350°F.
    You can move on to do the next steps while it's cooling, if you want.

Make the topping (15 min)

  • Get the mixer, the bowl that goes with it, and the rubber spatula
  • In the mixing bowl, add the confectioner's sugar, the package of cream cheese, and the remaining 2 oz (1/2 stick) softened butter.
    12 oz confectioner's sugar, 8 oz cream cheese, 2 oz more butter
  • Mix well with the mixer
  • Add the eggs, vanilla, and salt
    4 eggs, 2 tbsp vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp salt
  • Mix that in well, pausing to scrape the sides of the bowl into the mixture with the rubber spatula.
    It's okay if it's somewhat lumpy, but break down big lumps.
  • Once it's all a yellowish liquid, pour the filling over the cooled crust
  • If needed, spread it out evenly, with the rubber spatula

Heat and Cool the Cake (50 min)

  • Bake for 30 minutes, until the topping is pretty firm and a little jiggly.
    (Toothpick test doesn't work with the cream.)
  • Let the cake cool for about 30 minutes

Serving Prep (5 min)

  • Get the sifter and a tbsp measuring spoon
  • Dust with the 2 tbsp of confectioner's sugar
    2 tbsp more confectioner's sugar
  • Cut around the edges to separate the crust from the pan
  • Cut 3 columns the long way and 4 rows the short way


Adapted from Cooking Channel TV.
Compare with the simpler recipe.
Curious why this recipe uses weights for dry measures? See the Weights page.