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This is my first time making a flavored gooey butter cake. I can't remember who I got it from but I have a family recipe for gooey butter cake which I used as a starting point for my dairy free, gluten free version of "original flavor" gooey butter cake. The recipe includes lots of different flavor ideas in the notes section that I never thought to try before - the original is so good, why would I want to change it?!
One of the flavors was chocolate gooey butter cake which basically involves swapping the yellow cake mix for a chocolate one and adding some cocoa powder to the gooey filling. There was also a peanut butter version but I didn't like that the peanut butter was mixed into the top layer because it might affect the texture (not that I ever tried it).
For this recipe, I decided to swap the peanut butter for allergy-friendly sunbutter and layer it between the cake and topping so there was no change to the texture of the topping. In the cake I tested while developing the recipe, I actually did peanut butter on one half since Lenny likes it better and it was on sale but either one will work depending on your needs and preferences.
In addition to using cocoa powder and chocolate cake mix, I also added allergy-friendly chocolate chips to the cake layer to make it extra chocolatey. The cake mix I used is by Simple Mills. I just recently tried it for the first time to make cupcakes for girl's weekend. I used their vanilla frosting on top and they were so good!
What's really clever about the Simple Mills cake mix (no, they aren't sponsoring this post, I just really like them and think you will too) is that the box includes instructions for making muffins, cake/cupcakes, or brownies all from the same mix! I almost made the "crust" layer from brownies for this recipe but I wanted more of a traditional gooey butter cake texture. I might try it another time though!
What really surprised me about this recipe is how incredibly heavy that 9X13 pan got! I picked it up with one hand and had to readjust so I didn't lose my grip. It easily serves a crowd! Really think about it though - there's 20 oz of cake mix, an entire pound of powdered sugar (yes, seriously), about a pound of sunbutter, a half pound of butter alternative, plus several other ingredients. That's at least 3 ¾ pounds of chocolate sunbuttery goodness for you to share with about 17 of your closest friends. Or not. Totally up to you.
This definitely isn't the end for my gooey butter cake posts. I have a few more flavors I want to try and plan on making one this weekend while I have a tub of dairy free cream cheese on hand. I'm a little obsessed with these right now and I'm hoping you are sharing my enthusiasm!
Chocolate flavored gooey butter cake with a thick layer of sunbutter (or peanut butter!) in the middle. Free from dairy, gluten, grains, and soy.
Bottom cake layer:
- 18 oz gluten free dairy free chocolate cake mix *see notes
- 1 large egg
- ½ C (one stick) earth balance soy free buttery sticks, melted
- ¾ C dark chocolate chips (I recommend Enjoy Life chocolate chips for a gluten free/soy free/dairy free option)
- 1 ½ C sunbutter (I recommend the organic SunButter since there's no sugar or salt added, feel free to sub peanut butter if allergies permit)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a lightly colored, metal 9×13 inch pan.
- Using either a hand mixer or stand mixer, combine the cake mix, one egg, and ½ C melted butter alternative. Once combined, it will be crumbly. Stir in the chocolate chips then press this mixture into the bottom of the pan.
- Warm the sunbutter or peanut butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until runny enough to easily spread. Stir to reincorporate the oils then pour this over the cake layer and use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
- Using a mixer again, beat the cream cheese alternative until it is as smooth as possible (it may stay a little lumpy but you will be able to completely smooth it in the next step).
- Add the two remaining eggs, the other ½ C butter alternative, and vanilla extract and beat until completely smooth.
- Gradually mix in all of the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. The end result should be like a smooth batter. Pour this over the sunbutter layer and gently tap the pan on the counter to get it to spread out evenly.
- Bake for 35-50 minutes. Be careful not to overbake. The center should still be a little jiggly and finish setting once it’s removed from the oven (like a baked cheesecake). Additionally, some oil may pool on the top of the cake – don’t confuse this oil with undercooked batter or you could end up over cooking it.
- Once the cake has been removed from the oven and cooled, you can either leave it as-is or dust with additional powdered sugar before serving.
I originally used Simple Mills Chocolate Muffin & Cake Mix in this recipe but the Simple Mills allergen chart (updated 4/9/2019) shows it is made on shared equipment with wheat (as well as milk and other potential allergens you may have, click on "Allergen Info" on their product page to read more) so I will be using a different brand going forward. Any gluten free/dairy free cake mix should work just fine but know that it is currently untested with other brands.
Brands other than those I’ve linked to in the ingredients section may or may not work but these are the brands I tested the recipe with. An exception would be the grain free powdered sugar – I used conventional powdered sugar but either one will work fine. Additionally, any chocolate chip will work but others may not be as "allergy friendly" as the brand I linked to so keep that in mind if you have food allergies.