Diane Maupin Whips Up Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Bars

My friend Diane Maupin is a gifted home baker who brings remarkable desserts to any pot luck she attends. Since Diane is also in my book club, I have enjoyed countless surprises, but none captured my attention as quickly as her Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Bars, a dessert I’d never tasted.

“What? You’ve never eaten Ooey Gooey Butter Cake?” Diane asked, flabbergasted. (Okay, sometimes my northern roots really shine through.)

Diane went on to explain the basics for Ooey Gooey Butter Cake: a box of cake mix, egg, and butter for the base and cream cheese, powdered sugar, and more eggs and butter for the filling.

Later, I researched the recipe and found variations that stretched back to the 1940s. St. Louis, in fact, claims Ooey Gooey Butter Cake as its own, and more contemporary spins offer many options, including one from Paula Deen made with pumpkin.

Variations aside, I can’t imagine any recipe that tastes as sweet and satisfying as Diane’s, which is a cross between cake and lemon chess squares. “It’s usually baked in a 9 x 13 cake pan,” Diane explained later by email. “But I like to use a jelly roll pan for brownie-sized squares.”


1 box lemon cake mix

1 stick butter, melted

1 egg

Use a mixer on a slow speed and mix the above ingredients until they stick together. Pat in bottom of a jelly roll pan (10” x 15”).


1 8-oz. package cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick butter, melted

1 box powdered sugar (1 lb. or about 4 cups)

2 eggs

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

3 or 4 tablespoons cornmeal

Use a mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and beat for another 2 minutes. Pour over the cake base and bake in 350-degree oven 35-40 minutes until browned.


1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons butter

3 or 4 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix ingredients with spoon and drizzle over slightly cooled cake. When completely cooled, cut into squares. If you don’t have time to make the glaze, sift powdered sugar over the cake after it cools.


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