Gooey Butter Cake–A St. Louis Favorite

gooey butter cakeFor some reason, be it St. Patrick’s Day or what, I got a real hankering for Gooey Butter Cake. If you’re not from the St. Louis area, you may have no idea of what Gooey Butter Cake is. If you are from around here, chances are you have eaten your share. History is that this cake was actually a mistake made back in the 1930s by a St. Louis bakery when two different types of butter were confused in a recipe. The baker, being thrifty-minded and as it was the depression, decided he’d make the best of the mistake and sell the cakes anyway. And sell, they did! So from what started out as a mistake, became a St. Louis tradition.

Immanuel Lutheran Church CookbookI was looking around the internet for the recipe and many of the recipes I read seemed much more complicated than what I remembered. After browsing around for a while, it suddenly hit me that I had this recipe and it was included in one of my old church cookbooks. This particular cookbook, complied by the Mothers Club of the parochial school, was printed in 1977 and remains on my shelf today. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dug this book out to find a recipe for something I’ve eaten many times before. It’s definitely worn, used and loved.
Cake mix boxThis two-step recipe is very easy to make and starts out using a yellow cake mix. I don’t know if you have noticed, but as with many other things (boxes of cereal, etc), the volume included in the box has been reduced. What was originally 18.25 oz by volume is now 16.5 oz and in some brand mixes, has been reduced even further, to 15.25 oz. Same price for lesser amount. So how does this reduced volume affect your recipes? I’m not really sure, it would seem that the ratio of liquids to solids would be different. It definitely makes for smaller cakes, and fewer, less full cupcakes, even though I’ve read that some of the manufacturers deny this. Since this recipe is over 35 years old, I thought to be safe, I would do as is recommended on some websites and add an extra 1/4 cup flour to the recipe.

Gooey Butter Cake

For bottom layer, mix together:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 stick melted butter
and press into a 9×12 pan.

Bottom layer Gooey Butter Cake

For top layer, mix together:
2 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 – 8 oz. cream cheese
2 eggs
and pour over cake mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until cake is browned.

gooey butter2
And that’s all there is to it. A decadent, delicious, delectable and delightful combination of sweet gooey goodness and crunchy crust. Like Campbell’s used to say “hmmm, hmmm, good!”

Click here for a PDF of this recipe.

Choco-Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

Chocolate-Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

What’s in a name? Seems to me someone famous one time said that…Oh, yeah, that guy Shakespeare. Something like:

That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet, so Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes with that title.

What has that possibly to do with Choco-Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies? Only everything. Romeo smells like a rose. No, I’m just kidding. It all has to do with the absolutely wonderful ingredient: Hershey’s Cocoa.

Hershey's Cocoa

As long as I have been baking, I don’t think I ever used Hershey’s Cocoa before I made my Stray Dog Dessert and I discovered the absolutely wonderful, heavenly, chocolatey flavor of real cocoa. I’ve made these Choco-Peanut Butter No Bake cookies before and they went over like gang-busters. Since they contain oatmeal and wonderful antioxidants in the cocoa, you can even eat them for breakfast! (Probably shouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t). Can you buy other brands of cocoa? Sure, but for me, it’s Hershey’s all the way.

Ingredients:

1 stick butter (I use salted so I omitted the salt)
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup whole or 2% milk
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup peanut butter
1 Tbl. vanilla extract
4 cups quick-cooking oats*

Directions:

1. Add the first five ingredients (through the salt) to a 4-quart saucepan.
2. Bring to a rapid boil and let boil for 1 minute.
3. Remove from heat.
4. Add the peanut butter and vanilla extract and stir until smooth, then stir in the oats. Mix until all oats are coated.
5. Using a medium cookie scoop (or 2 tablespoonfuls), drop onto parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheets.
6. Let cool until set, about 30 minutes. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature (or in the refrigerator) for up to 2 weeks.

*If you do not like the oats in whole form, they can be placed in a food processor and pulsed for a few seconds to make them into a finer consistency.

Choco-Peanut Butter Cookies batchBy the way, while you are waiting for your no-bake cookies to cool, (cuz it’s no fun to burn your tongue), you can click here to read the history behind the Hershey’s brand.

Adapted from Quaker Oats Recipe

Missouri Supreme Court Throws Out Deputy’s Convictions

As a follow up to my post Missouri Court of Appeals verdict regarding Deputy Christopher Hunt, here is the article published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch reporting that the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the felony convictions of Deputy Hunt:

From the St. Louis Post Disptach December 23, 2014:

Chris HuntST. CHARLES COUNTY • The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed three convictions of a St. Charles County sheriff’s deputy stemming from the 2009 arrest of a wanted methamphetamine cook.

The high court sent one of Deputy Christopher E. Hunt’s convictions, for misdemeanor assault, back to Montgomery County for a possible new trial.

Meanwhile, the ruling ended the felony burglary and misdemeanor property damage cases against Hunt.

The decision “tells police officers if you have a subjective belief you’re doing what’s right, you’re going to be protected from criminal prosecution,” an attorney for Hunt, Edward “Chip” Robertson, said.

Robertson, a former state Supreme Court judge, said he hopes the Montgomery County prosecutor, Nathan Carroz, will decide against retrying Hunt on the remaining charge. Carroz could not be reached for comment. His predecessor, Nicole Volkert, was prosecutor at the original trial.

In a unanimous decision, the high court said the trial judge, Keith Sutherland, erred in submitting the burglary and property damage charges to the jury and in failing to acquit Hunt. The court said the jury instructions on the assault charge “were plainly erroneous.” The court said state law allows officers to break doors and windows to make arrests when police presence is announced and admittance is refused.

Hunt was among four members of the St. Charles County Regional Drug Task Force who were assisting members of the East Central Missouri Drug Task Force — which serves Montgomery, Warren and Audrain counties — with the arrest of Phillip Alberternst in Middletown, Mo. Alberternst had been wanted on several felonies related to making meth.

Hunt’s 2012 trial pitted police officer against police officer and is at the heart of a feud among departments. Several East Central officers said the St. Charles County officers illegally entered the home where Alberternst was staying and used excessive force in the arrest.

Hunt was sentenced to five years in prison on the burglary conviction for entering the home. He was given a six-month sentence on the assault conviction and three months for property damage, with those to run concurrently with the five-year term.

St. Charles County officials, including Sheriff Tom Neer, have strongly defended Hunt, who has continued to work as a deputy and has been assigned administrative duties. Neer said Tuesday he was grateful to the Supreme Court for hearing the case and thankful for the decision. “This case was incredibly important in terms of setting precedents for law enforcement officers in the line of duty not only in Missouri but across the country,” Neer said.

Two other St. Charles County officers charged in the case — sheriff’s Deputy William S. Rowe III and Dion E. Wilson of Lake Saint Louis police — pleaded no contest to misdemeanor peace disturbance. Misdemeanor charges against an O’Fallon officer were dismissed.

In January, a Missouri Court of Appeals panel in St. Louis upheld the assault conviction against Hunt and overturned and sent back for a new trial the burglary and property damage cases. The Supreme Court removed the new-trial option on those two charges.

End of story.

As of the date of this posting, it is not known whether Montgomery County has decided to retry Deputy Hunt on the assault charge.

If you are really into reading, here is a PDF of the brief filed in June 2014 at the Missouri Court of Appeals on behalf of Christopher Hunt:.Hunt Supreme Court brief.

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

I’ve said it before, but I have to repeat it…I love coconut cream. The other day I got a powerful hankering (for those of you not familiar with hankering, it basically means you really, really want it) for coconut cream pie. I knew I needed to take care of this, because as we all know, once you get a hankering, it doesn’t go away. I checked my pantry stash to see what I had on hand. Generally, whenever baking items go on sale, like cake mixes, brownies, puddings, chocolate chips, etc., I stock up. After all, you never know when we could have a natural disaster and I would be without anything to assuage my sweet tooth. Now, THAT would be a disaster! What I found in my stash was sugar free vanilla pudding, coconut flavoring and in my frig, flaked coconut, cream of coconut and whipping cream I’d bought for something I didn’t end up making. Truth be told, I probably had graham crackers to make the crust with, but being lazy, I decided to buy a premade one.

Ingredients:

Premade Graham cracker crust (or you can make your own using 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup sugar and 6 Tbls. melted butter)

For pudding:

Two small boxes Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix (I used sugar free)
1/2 cup (or thereabouts) Cream of Coconut (like Coco Lopez)
2 1/4 cups cold milk
Sweetened flaked coconut

For Whipped Cream

One pint whipping cream
2 Tbls. sugar
1 tsp. coconut flavor

Pudding Directions:

In medium size bowl, mix together the milk and Cream of Coconut, add the pudding mixes. Using a wire whisk, whip the pudding mix with the milks until all pudding is dissolved and mixed thoroughly. Add the flaked coconut. The amount you add is up to you. I used about a half cup, but I have to be honest, I didn’t measure it. Pour the pudding mixture into the graham cracker crust and allow the pudding to set up.

Whipped Cream Directions

The directions for making whipped cream call for placing the bowl and beaters in the freezer for 20 minutes. Unfortunately (really, it is fortunate) I had no room in my freezer to put them in, so instead I filled the bowl with ice water and put the mixer paddle in it and put them in the refrigerator. Once the bowl was good and cold, I poured out the water and dried the bowl and paddle. Combine the sugar, coconut flavor and whipping cream in the bowl and beat on medium high speed until soft peaks form (about 10 minutes). Spread over the coconut pudding and refrigerate.

If you want, you can sprinkle toasted flake coconut on top the whipped cream. To toast your coconut, place a thin layer of coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven. Stir coconut around half way through the baking time so the coconut browns evenly.

OMG, this is an absolutely wonderful, creamy, easy to make pie that it is all I couldE do not to hide it from my husband.

 

Adios, Good and Faithful Friend

You know what they say, “breaking up is hard to do”. Yes, that’s true, especially to someone who routinely keeps something until it is totally broken. So when my trusted Dazey can opener I’ve had for probably forty years (I think it was a wedding present back in 1972) began not to work correctly any longer, I knew it was time.20141228_083209

I know I tried a number of years ago to breakup with this trusted friend, only to find that it’s replacement had a bottom edge that stuck out which prohibited the opening of large cans. (How can you make chili if you can’t get those big cans of beans open?) It didn’t take long before that new replacement changed places with the old in the Salvation Army bin and go back to my old faithful. But now, I knew it was time, so for Christmas, I received a new Hamilton Beach can opener. What a difference 40 years makes!

My old faithful had a plug I could plug into any outlet, every which way. plugI didn’t have to worry about which way I was plugging the cord in, it went in any which way. Saved probably several minutes over the last, who knows how many years! After all, why do they make those plugs that can only go in one way, oh yeah, safety reasons.

And way back then, if you got instructions to go with that new can opener, you didn’t have to figure out what language you wanted to read the instructions in. 20141228_084104_resizedNow, of course, I can choose between English, French (?) and Spanish. Sometimes I read the Spanish manuals just to figure out if any of my three years of high school Spanish have stuck with me. “Como utilizarlo: Asegurese de que la palanca de activacion se encurentre en las posicion UP (arriba) y Unlocked (destrabado).” I understand it says something about activation in the up position…Guess I’d better stick with the English version.

My old trusty can opener cut the lid out of the can. Yes, you had to be careful not to cut your fingers on the sharp edges of the lid when you removed it from the magnet but, blood is the same color as tomato sauce (I know, gross!) So now the new version cuts the entire top off the can, eliminating sharp edges of the can lid. Hmmm. Must be another one of those safety issues.

My old faithful had a cord that was at least two foot long, allowing me to pull the can opener to the edge of the counter to open those large cans. My new one’s cord is only 12″ long. Guess I’ll have to figure out how to get those large cans open. Maybe instead of holding the can as it instructs you, I’ll have to hold the can opener up instead. Another advance I’m sure.

So out with the old and in with the new. After all, it is the start of a new year. New year, new can opener. What’s the chance this one will last forty years? I wouldn’t bet on it.20141228_083339