A couple of weeks ago, I baked a batch of Paula Deen’s chocolate gooey butter cookies. They were to sweeten a hiking trip, and they did this with gusto. They also didn’t last long enough for me to photograph them and, thus, blog about them. For don’t we all want pictures of the beautiful foods we read about? I do. I get mad at cookbooks that don’t have pictures of foods, especially esoteric ones. But I digress.
After we polished off the gooey chocolate wonders, I got to thinking. What would these taste like in strawberry form, using strawberry boxed cake mix rather than chocolate? So I tried it, and these were the result. (And, as I later discovered, I’m not the first person to think of doing this. As Dougal would say: “Oh, right, yeah.”)
Whatever chemical magic exists in packaged cake batter to prolong our lifespans makes these cookies a gorgeous, rich pink. I have visions of product developers making countless tiny adjustments to their colour formula to get just the right shade of pink – vibrant, with no hint of salmon, like a strawberry in its most spiritual form. Maybe they thought they had it with, say, a slightly purple-tinted shade, but had to go back to the drawing board because test bakers became distressed. I have no idea, but I’m really good at non sequiturs.
In addition to their pretty pinkness, they are *delectable*. They share with their chocolate cousins a thick, gooey, cake-y texture, and they aren’t overpoweringly sweet, like I thought they would be. They are just right. The powdered sugar on top is the perfect accompaniment, adding the requisite amount of sweetness. What I found interesting about both the chocolate and strawberry versions is that the powdered sugar soaks into the cookie, making little cream-coloured patches. I just sprinkled more on top, because it’s just what you do.
If you’re not quite in love with the chocolate or yellow gooey butter cookies, I highly recommend you try these strawberry ones. I couldn’t stop eating them, and finally had to give them away. I had to save myself, you see. 🙂
Paula Deen’s original recipe for gooey butter cookies calls for an 18 oz. box of cake mix, but I have been unable to find such a size of cake mix in my local stores for quite some time. I used a 16.25 oz. box of Devil’s Food cake mix for the chocolate version, and Pillsbury’s 15.25 oz. strawberry cake mix for these. Both batches turned out fantastically, and had my husband literally begging for more. Always a good thing. 😉
Strawberry Gooey Butter Cookies
Yield: About 18 two-inch cookies
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature (either salted or unsalted is fine – I used salted)
1 TBS buttermilk
1 box strawberry-flavoured cake mix
approximately 1 cup powdered sugar, for rolling the cake balls and for dusting after baking
Beat cream cheese and butter until thoroughly blended. Add egg and buttermilk, and beat until thoroughly blended, scraping bowl as necessary. Slowly stir in cake mix. Refrigerate for two hours or overnight, so as to stiffen the very soft dough.
When dough is chilled and you are ready to bake, place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Roll dough, about 1 TBS at a time, into balls and roll each ball in powdered sugar so as to coat completely. Place balls about two inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. The cookies will flatten out and be soft; this is as it should be. Do not overbake cookies. It is better to slightly underbake them than to overbake them.
Dust the cookies, still warm from the oven, with more powdered sugar. Cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container.
Source: Adapted from Paula Deen