Crazy for Crust

Jun 05

Healthier Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars

Thanks to the sponsorship of Avocados from Mexico, these Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars have a healthy secret – NO butter!

Healthier Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars by

Remember when Food Network got really big? I remember watching Emeril and Bobby Flay back in 2000. Then Rachael Ray got into the mix and the network took off. All of a sudden there was this huge new concept: food TV. My husband and I would watch the night time shows and I became like a kid again on Saturday mornings: I’d be glued to my TV, but it was cooking shows I was obsessed with instead of Saved By The Bell and Jem.

I don’t remember when Paula Deen showed up but I liked her right away. I mean, any chick that uses sugar and butter that much in a 30 minute time frame is my kinda gal.

The first episode I ever saw her do included a recipe for Gooey Butter Cake. I remember thinking, OMG you can do something other than make a cake with cake mix?

Yeah. If only I could see my future, right?

healthier-chocolate-gooey-cake-bars (2 of 6)

For some reason, probably the 12 pounds of butter, I never made her Gooey Butter Cake. But I always wanted to try it. Lately, I’ve been using a similar concept and making crusts out of cake and brownie mix. You know the deal, right? 1 stick of butter, 1 egg, and a cake mix. It makes a great bottom layer for magic bars.

I used that same concept for these Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars. These are kind of a marriage of gooey butter cake and magic bars. The cake mixture forms the crust and the top and the center is filled with chocolate chips, nuts, and sweetened condensed milk. The result of baking all the toppings in the center layer results in a gooey bar that tastes like a brownie married fudge.

These bars totally taste like that, BTW. Rich chocolate crust and topping, filled with chocolate chips and pecans. But these are healthier than the traditional Gooey Cake Bars. Why?

There is NO BUTTER in these bars! Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Instead of butter in the cake mixture, I used…

healthier-chocolate-gooey-cake-bars (5 of 6)


This recipe is perfect for all you people who just cringed. I swear to you, on a stack of holy cookbooks and a basin full of pie crust, that you do not taste avocado in these bars. The avocado takes the place of the butter. It’s so much like butter in texture, it gives the same ooey, gooey texture you’d get traditionally.

Yes, avocados have fat. But  they provide good-for-you monounsaturated fats and nearly 20 essential vitamins and minerals – which is more than a stick of butter can say, right?

Sure, you’ve still got half a can of sweetened condensed milk, some chocolate chips, and a cake mix. But you’ve taken out so many bad fats and calories, you can totally justify eating five one of these.


That’s what I thought. I think even the new Paula Deen would approve!

healthier-chocolate-gooey-cake-bars (3 of 6)

Are you going to BlogHer Food in Austin this weekend? I’ll be there! And, as you know, I’m working with Avocados from Mexico at the conference. During the conference days (Friday and Saturday) a few of us AFM bloggers will be having Pit Stops to refuel you!

Get it? Pit Stops?

I’ll have some things you might need to refresh yourself with so be sure and find me! You won’t be able to miss me – I’ll be in the Pit Crew official t-shirt. Or, find me on twitter. I’ll be tweeting my locations throughout the days on Friday and Saturday. Be sure to follow along with the Pit Crew hashtag #AFMPitCrew

I’ll see you in Austin!

Healthier Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars

Healthier Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars


  • 1 chocolate cake mix
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (from a 14 ounce can)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)


  1. Line a 9x9” pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place avocado in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until the large pieces are all smooth. Add the cake mix and egg and beat until combined. (There may be a few pieces of avocado left, that’s okay.)
  3. Place half the batter in the bottom of the pan. Spray your hands with cooking spray and press to flatten and cover the pan.
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over bottom later. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over chips and nuts.
  5. Place drops of the rest of the cake batter on top of the milk layer. Spray your hands again and press to evenly cover the top of the bars.
  6. Bake for about 25-28 minutes, until a toothpick on the edges comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from pan.
  7. Remove from pan, remove and discard foil. Slice into squares. Makes about 16 squares.
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Connect with Avocados from Mexico:
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

You may also like:

Vegan Brownies

Vegan Brownies

Avocado Banana Bread

avocado-banana-bread (4 of 5)

Sweets from friends:
Better than Anything Caramel Stuffed Brownies by Something Swanky
Peppermint Patty Gooey Cake Bars by Inside BruCrew Life
Rolo Gooey Cake Bars By I Wash You Dry

Thanks for reading! And be on the lookout for the Pit Crew at BHF this weekend!


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This post may be linked to: Chef in TrainingLil’ LunaBuns In My OvenChic-and-CraftyI’m Lovin’ it FridaysStrut your Stuff Saturday, Weekend PotluckWeekend Wrap Up PartySundae Scoop Link Partyand all of these too!

This post was sponsored by Avocados from Mexico. Since I love avocados as much as I love my sugar, all opinions are, of course, 100% my own and I probably would have written this post eventually anyway on my own. :)

78 Responses to “Healthier Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars”

  1. Averie @ Averie Cooks posted on June 5, 2013 at 2:42 am (#)

    They look wonderful! I was JUST at lunch with Gaby and a dozen San Diego bloggers on Tuesday, celebrating the release of her avocado book and the first thing I want to make is either brownies or banana bread with them. And you’ve done both. Great job and didnt know you were going to BH or working with avos from Mexico. Congrats and have fun!

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 5th, 2013 at 6:29 am

      Okay, I so totally need that avocado book! *drooling*

  2. Tieghan posted on June 5, 2013 at 4:52 am (#)

    umm…yes! These sound awesome Dorothy! I love adding avocados to desserts to make the healthier! Sadly I am not going to blog her! I hope you have tons of fun though and eat lots of good food!

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 5th, 2013 at 6:28 am

      I wish you were Tieghan! Maybe we’ll connect at a west coast conference next year!

  3. Aimee @ ShugarySweets posted on June 5, 2013 at 5:18 am (#)

    Oh yum Dorothy! I will see you tomorrow! I’m so freaking excited :)

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 5th, 2013 at 6:28 am

      OMG me too. And I’m so fricking nervous…promise me you’ll like me. ;)

  4. Elaine @ Cooking to Perfection posted on June 5, 2013 at 5:20 am (#)

    Dorothy, you have inspired me to use avocados in ways I never would have dreamed of!! I too love Paula Deen and have made her Gooey Butter Cake far too many times. I’m so glad that there is now a skinny version!! Can’t wait to try avocados in yet another new way. :)

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 5th, 2013 at 6:27 am

      Thanks Elaine! That’s what I hope; that people can think outside the box because of my recipes. :) Enjoy!

  5. Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat posted on June 5, 2013 at 5:23 am (#)

    Yay…I love healthy dessert recipes and I love using avocados in my baking! I’m super excited to try this recipe out!

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 5th, 2013 at 6:27 am

      Enjoy Holly!

  6. Megan {Country Cleaver} posted on June 5, 2013 at 7:15 am (#)

    I totally remember first watching Food Network – and getting really annoyed with Rachel Ray’s Hand Talking!! But I forgave her eventually, when I realized I talk with my hands far too much, too. :) These looks crazy amazing and Butter Goddess Aunt Paula Deen would surely approve. See you in AUSTIN!!

  7. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking posted on June 5, 2013 at 7:19 am (#)

    These look so delicious and decadent, Dorothy! What a great looking cake bar for indulging without the guilt!

  8. Mom posted on June 5, 2013 at 7:29 am (#)

    YUM! Any let in the freezer?

  9. Ashley posted on June 5, 2013 at 7:35 am (#)

    Is it crazy that I thought they might have a green hue? Like guacamole brownies. :) I’m pinning these to make for the kiddos. And I totally remember early FN shows! Watching them is what inspired me to learn to cook. I don’t think I could have learned how without actually seeing people do it.

  10. Meagan @ A Zesty Bite posted on June 5, 2013 at 7:52 am (#)

    I remember staying up late watching Emeril doing is “Bam, Bam” thing! Still love to watch Food Network but the old shows were the best.
    Love that these are healthier ~ SOLD! Hopefully we can meet this wknd in Austin.

  11. Nancy P.@thebittersideofsweet posted on June 5, 2013 at 8:13 am (#)

    I love cooking shows but never get to watch them! We don’t have cable! These look so good I never would of guessed they have avocado in them!

  12. Mr. & Mrs. P posted on June 5, 2013 at 8:50 am (#)

    Still haven’t used avocado as a substitute .. Need to try soon

  13. Mary Frances @ The Sweet Tooth Life posted on June 5, 2013 at 10:18 am (#)

    Woooow! I’m making cake with avocado today, but gosh, your looks so much easier! You’ve made my avocado-in- desserts heart oh so majorly happy. You are so awesome – keep em coming!!

  14. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) posted on June 5, 2013 at 10:24 am (#)

    I CANNOT BELIEEEVE that there’s no butter, just avocado in these! They look amazing!!!

  15. Stephanie @ Back For Seconds posted on June 5, 2013 at 10:40 am (#)

    Like a brownie married fudge?? heck yeah! I love the fun creative ways you use avocados! I’m so sad I don’t get to hang out with you this weekend. :( Hopefully soon! Have fun!

  16. Brenda @ SweetSimpleStuff posted on June 5, 2013 at 10:56 am (#)

    LOVE IT! I’m not sure which I would enjoy more, eating them or tricking people with avocado in brownies :)
    Someday I will actually go to a blogging conference … have a great time!
    P.S. The Ooey Gooey Cake is evil in a good way.

  17. lisa @ Wine & Glue posted on June 5, 2013 at 11:05 am (#)

    1. I was exactly like you before kids! Watching the food network for hours on end on Saturday mornings. Just one show after the other until hunger would take over and I’d have to go eat something.
    2. I absolutely love when you break down baking into easy terms. Like: 1 stick of butter, 1 egg, and a cake mix = magic bar base. Ummm, what? That is so simple! Prepare to be inundated with magic bars.
    3. I love avocados as a dairy substitute. My body doesn’t love dairy, but it does love avocado! I love using it on a sandwich instead of cheese. Yumm.
    4. These bars look amazing.
    5. Be my neighbor.
    6. #oknowimdone

  18. Faith @ Pixie Dust Kitchen posted on June 5, 2013 at 12:23 pm (#)

    I never thought of using avocados instead of butter in baked goods! But it makes sense, because they’re kind of like nature’s butter. I really wanna start using avocado in recipes now!

  19. Lindsay@Life, Live and Sugar posted on June 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm (#)

    I love the idea of avocados instead of butter! I’m really not a huge avocado fan, but I know they have such healthy fats in them. Now I really want to try this! Healthy fats and chocolate – bring it on! :)

  20. Julia @ hungryandconfused posted on June 5, 2013 at 12:35 pm (#)

    These look delicious and I’m definitely going to give them a try. As I have a boyfriend who comes from St. Louis, I’ve had my fair share of gooey butter cake, although I agree that the amount of butter is slightly scary!

  21. Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl posted on June 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm (#)

    Ohmygosh, I didn’t know you were doing that at the conference – that is so awesome, Dorothy! I’m so, so excited to finally meet you in person. I’m nervous, too!

  22. Tahnycooks posted on June 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm (#)

    I’m so excited (jealous) to hear all about the conference from you and all my other favorite food bloggers! Maybe someday I would be able to go! Hopefully sooner then later! I’m not quite sure I’m at the level to be able to hang with ya’ll I’m still a rookie at this food blogging thing! But, I’m loving it!

    These bars look delish! Love the idea of using avocados! Yum!

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      There is no level!! It’s fun to meet everyone I’ve been talking to online for so long!

  23. Karissa K. @ Sweet As A Cookie posted on June 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm (#)

    That’s one thing I miss about cable.. watching Food Network. :(
    If I could buy only 2 TV channels I would buy HGTV and Food Network.
    For now I will settle for Netflix hoping someday they put some food shows on there.

    Paula Deen = <3

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      They better! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

  24. Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl posted on June 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm (#)

    This recipe most certainly helps to support my claim for the fact that avocado is TRULY amazing!! :)

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      TOTALLY! :)

  25. nessa posted on June 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm (#)

    These look great! I want to give them to my siblings and see if they can taste the difference!

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      Let me know what they think!

  26. Julianne @ Beyond Frosting posted on June 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm (#)

    Hello? Where have I been. Using cake mix as a base layer for magic bars. Instant like right there. I have never used an avocado in place of butter, probably because an avocado will never last that long in my house. Love this! See you soon!

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks Julianne it was so great to meet you!

  27. Cookie posted on June 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm (#)

    Nice! I love the brownie-married-fudge thing. Can you imagine what wonderful soft pudgy little children they would have? Ok, that was weird. Anyway, great idea with the avocado. I’ll have to try that sometime in some of my baking. Someone once told me about some vegan cookies made with avocado, but avocados never stick around our house for too long.

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      LOL!! Thanks so much!

  28. Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) posted on June 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm (#)

    Amazing!! I seriously need one of these now.

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Thanks Jocelyn!

  29. Julie @ This Gal Cooks posted on June 5, 2013 at 5:51 pm (#)

    I love avocados. I’m not sure about them in cakes or brownies, though! I’ve done the applesauce substitution thing in brownies and they just weren’t the same. But I can’t knock it until I try it! Thanks for sharing this healthier, delicious looking recipe, Dorothy! Pinned!

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      You can’t even taste them when they’re baked in, I promise!!

  30. Victoria B. posted on June 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm (#)

    I love watching the food network channel. It is my favorite! I am absolutely in love with Paula Deen. She makes me believe butter is it’s own food group and you need it. I love chocolate gooey cake, so I’ll have to try this heathier version.

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      YES. It’s totally it’s own essential food group!

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  32. Kathy posted on June 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm (#)

    So cool what you can do with avocado’s! Love them and how healthy they are for you! I will have to try this soon, it looks delicious!

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks Kathy!

  33. Jennifer @ Mother Thyme posted on June 5, 2013 at 8:09 pm (#)

    OMG Jem, I totally forgot about that show, lol! I loved FN when it first started too. These bars look ah-mazing! I love sneaking in avocados into sweet treats like this. Makes me not feel as guilty when I end up eating the entire pan. ;)

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks jennifer!

  34. Ashton posted on June 5, 2013 at 8:38 pm (#)

    1) This is GENIUS!
    2) I’m totally hooked to food TV too. I can’t get enough!

  35. Amy posted on June 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm (#)

    These look amazing!! But…. I might be allergic to avocado. It’s a tragedy. Sigh.

    And Paula Deen is the sweetest person ever! My mom bought her autobiography a few years ago and leant it to me. Her history is amazing — she was afraid to leave her house for years, maybe even decades! She eventually overcame that to start cooking and baking for others, and now she’s a huge celebrity. I’d highly recommend reading it; the book is really touching and inspiring!

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      TOTAL tragedy! I totally need to read her book!

      • Amy replied on June 8th, 2013 at 4:49 pm

        It’s called “Paula Deen: It Ain’t All About the Cookin’.” Amazon has quite a few listings that aren’t too expensive, and I wonder if any of the libraries in the area have it too!

  36. Nancy @ gottagetbaked posted on June 5, 2013 at 10:23 pm (#)

    As much as I’m obsessed with the Food Network, Saved by the Bell and Jem are total classics. I signed up for Netflix this past Christmas and I blitzed through all seasons of both of those shows. It was super satisfying watching them after all these years (and also made me feel so old!). The only thing that would’ve made my experience even better is if I had a pan of this to nosh on – your gooey cake bars look incredible! I love that you used avocado. I’m a big supporter of avo based desserts.

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      I have had She-Ra on my Netflix forever! :) Thanks Nancy!

  37. steph@stephsbitebybite posted on June 6, 2013 at 5:03 am (#)

    Oh man! Now this means I can eat half the pan and not feel bad right?

  38. Julie @ Julie's Eats & Treats posted on June 6, 2013 at 8:02 am (#)

    I love how we can rationalize things as being healthier even though they are still loaded with chocolate! Whatever makes us feel better right??

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      Totally! Thanks Julie!

  39. Bobbilynne posted on June 6, 2013 at 9:09 am (#)

    YUM! And yes, I TOTES remember when Food network showed up. A college buddy of mine introduced me to Iron Chef (the original overseas version) which only aired overnight, and we would stay up until 2am, entranced….”you mean…he’s going to make… LOBSTER ICE CREAM????”

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      RIGHT? Totally inspired what I do today!

  40. sally @ sallys baking addiction posted on June 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm (#)

    Avocado! Who would’ve thought! Dorothy, I’m loving these cake bars. Homerun. :) Anything healthy + chocolate catches my eye! Have a great time at BHF, I’ll miss you gals!

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks Sally!!

  41. Jocelyn @ BruCrew Life posted on June 6, 2013 at 8:02 pm (#)

    Anything with Gooey in the name has got to be delicious, right?! Ok, maybe not everything, but definitely this, I’m sure!! YUM!

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 8th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Thanks Jocelyn!

  42. Camille posted on June 10, 2013 at 7:08 pm (#)

    How did you know I cringed when you said avocado? I’m going to take your word on not being able to taste the avocado and give it a try.

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 12th, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      In this – you really, really can’t!!

  43. Trish - Mom On Timeout posted on June 13, 2013 at 7:36 pm (#)

    These look amazing Dorothy! I love the gooey aspect :)

    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 14th, 2013 at 10:59 am

      Me too! Thanks Trish!

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  50. Rachel posted on January 6, 2014 at 4:23 pm (#)

    Hey, this recipe sounds great!(: I’m just wondering, but could you use a different flavor of cake mix if you wanted to? Thanks!(:

    • Dorothy Kern replied on January 6th, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      Yes! Any flavor is good. I used chocolate to hide the green color from the avocado. If you use yellow cake it will look a little green but it will still taste good! :)

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