Friday, November 18, 2011
50 Women Game Changers in Food - #24 Paula Deen - Peanut Butter Gooey Butter Cake
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Paula Deen has been described by those who know her as a force of nature. That may be an exaggeration, but it is fun to think of her as an aproned Mother Nature hurling thunderbolts from the tip of her stainless whisk and wooden spoon. She's been the butt of endless butter and cream jokes, but she takes them in her stride and seems to have been given that most precious of gifts, the ability to laugh at oneself. She has many detractors, but even they cannot deny that she's brought huge numbers of women back to the kitchen and codified the cooking of a region and an era in the process. I must tell you that while I'm not a fan, I am an admirer. Paula began professional cooking following a divorce that left her with $200 and responsibility for two teenage sons. She was considered to be a good Southern cook, so, lacking other marketable skills and suffering from agoraphobia that kept her housebound, she started a small catering business called The Bag Lady. She made and bagged meals that her boys delivered them to customers. The Bag Lady was very successful and she soon outgrew the space in her home. She moved on to the kitchen of a hotel in Savannah and stayed there for five years before opening her own successful restaurant, The Lady and Sons. In 1997, she self-published her first cookbook, The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cooking. The book was noticed by a literary agent and it went on to become an enormously successful best seller. She has since written three more books. She first appeared on the Food Network in 1999 and has remained their ever since. Her credits also include a role in the movie, Elizabethtown. Paula Deen has establish an empire that centers around cooking and hospitality. She has been very successful and helped rekindle an interest in Southern home cooking. She has, for the most part, left healthier cooking to others, and I suspect she'd tell her many critics that she never planned to be a missionary. I think she's earned her place on the Gourmet Live list of 50 Women Game-Changers in food. I did some quick research before selecting the recipe I wanted to feature today. Paula's gooey butter cakes have consistently been the most popular of her recipes. They are actually a version of Southern chess cakes, but they are much easier to prepare. I chose to make the version that uses peanut butter because it National Peanut Butter Lover's Month and, besides, someone else was making the pumpkin version. If you love sweet things, I think you'll love these cake squares. If I make them again, I'll add a cup of salted peanuts to the cream cheese mixture. Here's the recipe.
Peanut Butter Gooey Butter Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Paula Deen
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package chocolate cake mix
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch pan. Set aside
2) Combine cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat mixture into bottom of prepared baking pan.
3) To make filling: Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and peanut butter in a large bowl until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat until combined. Add powdered sugar and mix well. Spread mixture over cake and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Do not overbake. Center of cake should remain a bit gooey. Yield: 12 to 16 servings.
The following bloggers are also featuring the recipes of Paula Deen today. I hope you'll visit all of them. They are great cooks who have wonderful blogs.
Val - More Than Burnt Toast, Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey, Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney, Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets, Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite, Kathleen - Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen, Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts, Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green,Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda, Linda A - There and Back Again
Martha - Lines from Linderhof, Nancy - Picadillo
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Annie - Most Lovely Things
Next week we will highlight the career and recipes of Paula Wolfert. It will be really interesting to see what everyone comes up with. If you'd like to join us please email me for additional information no later than Monday, November 21st.