I was asked "What would you serve for a Great Gatsby party?" We were promoting our St. Margaret's Hospital Guild's Designer Show House and the signature dessert is a "Maggie's Bar". This is a rift on an old St. Louis classic, the gooey butter cake. This isn't Melissa Clarke's NYT recipe--but the version with the packaged cake mix. I took liberties with the Maggie's bar by adding lemon to fit the Gatsby theme and swapping almonds for the pecans in the crust. In the summer, this is a great base for a frozen berry compote with lime zest, cardamon and mint. —lorigoldsby
yellow cake mix
unsalted butter, melted
whole almonds, toasted and chopped
non-stick cooking spray
Gooey Butter Filling
cream cheese, softened at room temp
large eggs, room temp
meyer lemons, juiced and zested
In This Recipe
Combine cake mix, chopped almonds, lemon zest and melted butter. Prep a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter and lightly pat mixture into pan.
Gooey Butter Filling
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on med-hi for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated.
Add juice of lemons. If meyer lemons are out of season, use 2 small lemons and 1/2 of an orange or substitute a small box of lemon pudding mix (you are starting with a box cake mix, so get over yourself!)
Lower your mixer speed to stir and add in your powdered sugar. Slowly increase speed to med-hi and beat for 3 minutes.
Pour cream cheese mixture over cake crust mix. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. The edges will be chewy and puffed, the center will be somewhat soft and gooey.
I learned to cook with my Gran. I can still see her reading a recipe and figuring out how she would make it better. She was fearless about substituting ingredients--but also knowledgeable. She approached food in the same way she built her antique business--appreciate quality ingredients and workmanship, but don't be a snob. I think I carry those same beliefs in my approach to cooking. I love family style dinners, I love a fancy ladies' luncheon with my wedding china, or a backyard seafood boil to celebrate my husband's birthday...I love to share food with others.