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Gooey Cinnamon Squares

After the chocolate chip brioche pretzels, this was the recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook I was most excited to try. A decadent combination of gooey butter cake (a St. Louis area dessert that is pretty well described by its name) and snickerdoodles, these bars are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I intended to eat only one before sending them to work with Dustin, but ended up eating three over the course of two days. They were cut pretty small since they are so rich; but still, these little bars were a failed test of my self control.

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The outside bars cooked significantly more than the ones in the middle of the pan. In fact you might say the ones in the pan were barely baked at all. But that’s what made them so delicious (they were also the first to go when Dustin brought them into the office). The best bars were the ones where you could distinguish between the bar crust and the gooey filling, and where the top crusted over perfectly becoming slightly crunchy and caramelized like a creme brûlée. Those were the three I claimed :)

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Gooey Cinnamon Squares

yields 24 squares; from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Base Layer

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Line 9″x13″ pan with parchment paper (I ran out and used aluminum foil with good results).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. With a hand mixer in a large bowl or with the paddle of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar for several minutes until fluffy.
  4. Add in the egg, and mix until uniform.
  5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk and mix until combined.
  6. Spread the dough into the prepared baking dish. Move on to making the gooey layer.

Gooey Layer

  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the corn syrup, cream, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  2. With a hand mixer in a large bowl or with the paddle of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar for several minutes until fluffy.
  3. Add in the egg, and mix until uniform.
  4. Alternate adding the flour with the cream/corn syrup mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Spread over the base layer.

Top Layer

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  2. Sprinkle evenly on top of the gooey layer.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes when you see cracks forming on the very top, but err on the side of underbaking, so the bars stay gooey.
  4. Allow to completely cool (3-4 hours) in the pan before attempting to slice. Bars can be kept at room temperature for several days in an airtight container, but I’d recommend not allowing them to keep around the house for that long!

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