There are a few types of gooey butter bar (or as we say here in St. Louis, gooey butter cake) bakers: those who make yeasty cake-like gooey butter bars, those who prepare a “cheater” version made with cake mix and cream cheese, and those who bake a from-scratch version made with evaporated milk. I prefer the last option and, judging from the results of my informal Facebook survey, most of you prefer bars when they are covered in salted caramel!
Since I know you can’t all make it to St. Louis, I made you some salted caramel gooey butter bars here on the blog!! I also made some gooey butter spudnuts which you should try next!
My salted caramel gooey butter bars start with a buttery crust. That’s topped with a layer of salted caramel (follow the recipe to make it from scratch or save time and use store-bought caramel sauce). The caramel layer is covered in rich gooey butter filling and, once out of the oven, more caramel sauce may be drizzled on top.
I originally developed the gooey butter bar recipe for Go Bold With Butter and I took my commitment to using real butter seriously. These gooey butter bars are super rich and I wouldn’t have it any other way (see my brookies for another really intense dessert bar). I always start snack time by putting just half of a bar on my plate, somehow convincing myself that I won’t need the other half. I end up reaching for the second half every time.
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My snickerdoodle bars. They are also quite buttery, though not as buttery as these. And, they have a wonderful cinnamon flavor.
Salted Caramel Gooey Butter Bars
Salted Caramel Ingredients:
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Bar Base Ingredients
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter cold and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
Bar Filling Ingredients
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup evaporated milk
Salted caramel Instructions
- Place water and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan on medium-high heat and vigorously stir until sugar is dissolved and begins to boil.
- Once boiling, stop stirring and let boil until the sugar’s temperature reads 370 F on a candy thermometer.
- Immediately remove from heat and carefully add butter. Swirl the pan until the butter is completely melted.
- Add the heavy whipping cream and immediately stir vigorously to combine.
- Stir in salt.
- Cool to room temperature.
Bar Base Instructions
- Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and use your hands to mix until the ingredients come together to form fine crumbs.
- Press into the bottom of a greased 8”x8” pan.
- Top with 3/4 cup of the salted caramel from above. If needed, tilt the pan slightly so the caramel will flow to evenly cover the whole crust.
Bar Filling Instructions
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until fully combined.
- Mix in the corn syrup and egg.
- Alternately add the flour and the evaporated milk in three additions, mixing until just combined (the batter will appear slightly curdled).
- Evenly distribute topping over caramel.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until the edges of the bars are just turning brown. When you shake the pan, the center should still be somewhat loose but not liquid. Be careful not to over-bake, as you will then lose the gooey aspect of the gooey butter bars.
- Cool to room temperature and optionally drizzle remaining salted caramel sauce on top.
- Cut into squares and serve.