Gooey Cinnamon Squares


A lot of people seem to love gooey butter cake- a layer of cake with a creamy topping that’s baked on. While it always sounded great to us, we never tried it, for several reasons, including the fact that “butter” is part of the title- something about that is slightly off-putting when you are trying to eat mostly healthy things (although having a blog serves as a nice excuse to make treats, because obviously, they’re “for the blog, not for us”). Lucky for us, this version of gooey butter cake from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook does not include butter in the title! This cake is genius. It’s a cross between cake, cookie bars (snickerdoodle cookie bars, to be precise), and heaven. The topping gets crunchy, the bottom layer gets slightly firmer than cake but softer than cookie, and the middle layer becomes a decadent and creamy filling. These bars are also made from pantry staples, which, aside from making them dangerous because they can be whipped up any time, makes them incredibly convenient. We promise healthier recipes are in store for January, but this one was just too good to not get posted!


Gooey Cinnamon Squares

Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Makes a 9×13 in. pan of bars. You can slice them to whatever size you’d like, but this certainly would serve at least 16 people


For the bottom layer:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup milk

For the gooey layer:

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoons vanilla extract

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour


2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch cake pan with parchment paper, extending about two inches up the sides, then spray with cooking spray or grease with butter.  Set aside.
To prepare the cookie base, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and milk and beat until combined, scraping down the bowl and then beating for another 10 seconds.  Beat in the dry ingredients at low speed until just combined.
Dollop the cookie base over the bottom of the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer with a butter knife or offset spatula.  Set aside.
To prepare the gooey layer, whisk together the corn syrup, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and salt  until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat another 10 seconds.  Add 1/3 of the flour and mix, followed by half the vanilla mixture, mixing well to combine.  Repeat again, twice, until all of the flour has been added and mixed until just combined.  Dollop over the cookie base and spread carefully with an offset spatula.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the gooey layer.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes until the cookies have browned on top.  The gooey layer will rise and fall in the oven, but should still be a gooey under the cinnamon crust. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for a little while, then transfer to a rack to fully cool (these are definitely better fully cooled). Slice into squares and serve. Enjoy!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. OliePants says:

    I saw something on Annie’s Eats that’s similar. I love the cinnamon twist on this! Delicious!

    1. Annie’s Eats is the best! Hopefully you’ll be baking some gooey butter/cinnamon cake today now too!

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