Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies


These are quite possibly the best cookies ever. Ever. This recipe comes from the fantastic Paula Deen. I get requests for these cookies. I get e-mails that simply say, "I dream of the chocolate cookies." I give them as gifts. People expect them as gifts. In fact, people would rather have these than anything that costs actual money. These are that good.  

I interned at a fantastic elementary school in Enterprise, AL during the fall semester. I decided to make gifts for several of the teachers and workers before I graduated in December. I will never forget my kindergarten cooperating teacher came down to where I was in 4th grade and exclaimed, "Those are the best durn cookies I have ever eat!" lol...just like that. I think of her every time I make them.

I have made these in all kinds of situations including in my toaster oven in my dorm room in college. I have made them for all kinds of occasions. They always turn out perfect, and they are always a hit. Make them for the sake of the happiness of yourself and others.

When hot, they are like brownie batter cookies. When at room temperature, they have the most incredible texture ever. Fudgy. Borderline chocolate cheesecakey. Why am I writing this instead of eating cookies?

First of all, let's talk mixers. This recipe is easiest to make in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (the white paddle-looking thing in this blurry, blurry picture. In fact, the paddle attachment may be the only thing in focus in that picture.)

However, I made this recipe with an electric hand mixer with old-fashioned beaters for years. Here's what you need to know if you use an electric hand mixer: This cookie dough is SUPER THICK. In fact, when you use a hand mixer, the dough will climb  your beaters all the way up to the mixer. You will need to scrape all the dough off the beaters and continue to beat until everything is incorporated well. It sounds awful, but it isn't. It is so. worth. it.

In college, I wanted to make these cookies, but I did not have an oven or a mixer. I did have a toaster oven. I wanted these cookies sooooo much that I purchased a $4.99 electric hand mixer from Walmart. It acted the same way with this dough as my ancient one at home. As the dough began to get thick, the motor changed sound. It slowed down to a "whir-whir-whir." The mixer started to get hot. The mixer even started to smell hot. I thought it might quit...or die, but the little mixer prevailed! It's as if it knew that its purpose in life was to facilitate awesome, heavenly cookies. The smell of the cookies caused 11+ people to show up in my room... These cookies make friends. They are magic. They are fantastic and wonderful and... ok, anyway - to the directions:

Step One: Leave your butter and cream cheese out on your counter for 45 min - 1 hour until they are room temp, and they squish when you touch them (like in this picture).

Impatient alternative #1: I actually turned on my oven, and then I put these by the oven vent. I turned them once or twice. It took about 10 - 15 min.  

Impatient alternative #2: When I was in college, one of my roommates was desparate for these cookies. She bought me the stuff, and put all of it in my lap one day. I didn't need explanation, but she said, "I need cookies." I laughed and said, "Ok." When I didn't start right away, she offered to soften the butter and cream cheese for me. She proceeded to squish them within their wrappers in her hands until they were the right temp. Gotta love the need for chocolate cookies.

Impatient alternative #3: Ok, you can put them in the microwave for a few seconds, but I don't prefer this method. Parts of the cream cheese can actually cook to a different consistency in the microwave sometimes. It doesn't taste bad; it just feels weird in your mouth. Butter can melt a bit which is not the best for this cookie dough. You want them softened - not cooked and melty.  

Step Two: Put the butter and cream cheese in your bowl.

Step Three: Cream together...like this.

Step Four: Add an egg,...

...and then continue to cream everything together.

Remember to scrape the sides! For whatever reason, everything sticks to the sides, and it doesn't get mixed well/at all that way.

This picture is really just here to show you how weird the mixture looks after you scrape the sides.

Cream again after scraping the sides...

Step Five: Add vanilla, and cream some more!

Time-out. Let's talk cake mix. Buy this kind. I have had a few people who have tried this recipe tell me that the cookies they made did not turn out as good as mine. Some of those people are just lazy and want me to cook for them. You know who you are. People who really did have a problem usually had a problem because they bought a different brand of cake mix. Buy this kind - the Moist Duncan Hines Devil's Food kind.

Step Six: Add all of the cake mix to the bowl...

 ...and mix until well incorporated. Don't forget to scrape the sides!

See how thick?


Step Seven: Cover the cookie dough, and refrigerate for at least an hour. If you don't, this recipe will not work. The colder that butter and cream cheese in the dough is when that cookie dough hits the oven, the better.

After the dough has chilled, here is the set-up. A plate of powdered sugar (about 1/2 c.), the cookie dough, and a tablespoon.

Step Eight: Scoop the dough by rounded tablespoons...

...roll each into a ball, and plop each cookie dough ball into the powdered sugar.

Step Nine: Roll each dough ball in powdered sugar to coat.

Step Ten: Place the dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. There is plenty of butter in these cookies. They self-grease the pan.

For best results, put any extra dough back in the fridge while these cookies cook. The colder the dough, the better the cookies will be.

Step Eleven: Bake at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes or until the cookies are just underdone. They will look like this. If you shake the pan, they will wiggle like they are full of liquid goodness.

Step Twelve: Let the cookies sit on the pan for two minutes. If you don't, they will fall all to pieces or smush into wads as you try to get them off the pan.

Aren't they pretty?

I don't let mine cool on a wire rack because they are so gooey at first. I just put aluminum foil on the counter, and I just place the cookies on that...well, the ones that don't end up in my mouth.

Look at the difference. The cookie on the left is from the first batch, so it has had about fifteen minutes to sit and to set. The cookie on the right just came out of the oven. It's puffed with air and brownie-batterness.

This cookie just came out of the oven. See how brownie-batter-like it is?

Like whipped brownie batter air...Mmmmm.

This cookie has had time to sit and to set. See how fudgey-soft?

Crackly soft glaze on fudgy heaven...

You must make these...

It is important.

There is a chocolate gooey butter cookie void in your life, and you just don't know it yet. Make these. Make them, now!

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies
Click here for printable version
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 (18oz) box Duncan Hines Moist Devil's Food cake mix
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
powdered sugar

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Beat in the vanilla. Beat in the cake mix. The dough will be very thick. If you are using an old-fashioned hand electric mixer, the dough will climb the beaters. Cover and chill the dough at least one hour (very important!). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll dough into rounded tablespoon-sized balls, and roll each dough ball in powdered sugar. (Put leftover dough back in the fridge in between bakings.) Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2-in apart. Bake 10-13 minutes. Cookies will remain soft and "gooey." When you shake the pan, the cookies will wiggle a bit. Let cookies sit on the pan for 2 minutes before removing from the pan.
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