Paula Deen’s Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies {Vegan}

During the month of December, the Food Network sends out a 12 Days of Cookies newsletter with recipes. Last year they all looked so delicious and this year I decided to try to make all of them. One flaw in my plan was having to eat all those cookies. Well, I at least did the first recipe, but I decided to healthy it up a bit. Honestly, I was a bit nervous… Okay, I was terrified they weren’t going to be edible, but all doubts aside I was determined to make Paula Deen’s Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies vegan and gluten-free.

The original recipe has 6 ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (18-ounce) box moist chocolate cake mix
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Before I tell you my “weird” changes, I want to say these cookies tasted exactly like little bites of chocolate cake. I even fed them to people who had no clue anything was suspicious about them. That being said, these were my *substitutions:

  • 8oz vegan tofutti cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup non dairy margarine
  • 1/3 cup+ applesauce (egg replacement)
  • Gluten free and vegan chocolate cake mix

Instructions:

Cream the cream cheese and butter together. Then, mix in the egg and vanilla, followed by the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.** Roll the chilled dough into little balls and roll them in confectioners’ sugar. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet, for 12 minutes at 350° F.

**When I made these I ended up falling asleep while they were in the fridge. I made half the dough about 12 hours later, and the rest of the dough I rolled into a log, saran wrapped it, and stuck in the freezer for 2 weeks. The freezer dough tasted just as good as the fresh(er) one.

I started off with about a 1/3 cup of apple sauce to replace the egg, but I didn’t think the chocolate mixture was sweet enough so I added more until I was satisfied. I was nervous the batter wasn’t very sweet, but when baked and coated with powdered sugar (or icing) they taste just like moist chocolate cake.

I also made chocolate chip cookies with Betty Crocker gluten-free yellow cake mix and chocolate chips. These were sweet enough and didn’t really need powdered sugar, but it didn’t hurt them either.

Price Difference: The normal extra moist boxed cake mix I would’ve use was ~$2 (even though they had store brand on sale for about $1), the Betty Crocker gluten-free was $3.50. The normal Philadelphia cream cheese was $2.29 and the Tofutti brand was $3.79. I normally buy Smart Balance buttery spread (~$3.29) vs regular butter (~$2.99), so not much of a price difference there. I also already had applesauce in my fridge, but it was about 97 cents for a big jar of store brand “All Natural” applesauce. For me, it was about $3 more to make 3.5 dozen cookies “healthier”.

I supposed I should’ve made a control batch of normal cookies to taste test against, but these came out surprisingly amazing. If you give them a try, let me know how they came out.

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