Gooey Butter Cake

This dessert's secret? Malted milk powder.

gooey butter cake
Photo: Photographer: Greg DuPree, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs

It's called cake, but sugar-dusted squares of this rich dessert resemble thick bar cookies. The tender cookie base is topped with buttery, sweet filling that keeps things deliciously ooey and gooey. The recipe has deep roots in St. Louis, where nearly every family has their own favorite version, but Gooey Butter Cake is sure to win over dessert fans across the country. The recipe calls for malted milk powder, which adds toasty, cooked-milk flavor along the lines of butterscotch or toffee. It also helps baked goods brown.



  • Cooking spray

  • 1 ¼ cups (about 5 ⅜ ounces) all-purpose flour

  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon malted milk powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 large egg

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted


  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature  

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

  • ¼ cup honey

  • 2 tablespoons tap water

  • 1 cup (about 4 ¼ ounces) all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon malted milk powder

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • Powdered sugar, for serving


  1. Prepare the Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9- x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray, and line pan with parchment paper.

  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, malted milk powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in egg and melted butter until combined into a smooth and shiny dough. Transfer dough to prepared pan, and press with your fingers to evenly cover bottom of pan.

  3. Prepare the Filling: Beat butter and sugar with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add egg and almond extract; beat until combined, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl if needed. Add honey and 2 tablespoons tap water; beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Add flour, malted milk powder, and salt; beat on low until combined, about 1 minute.

  4. Transfer filling to prepared pan, and spread evenly over crust. Bake in preheated oven until top is golden brown and edges begin to pull away from sides of pan, 35 to 40 minutes.

  5. Remove from oven, and let cool at room temperature, about 1 hour. Cut into squares, and dust with powdered sugar.

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