I am not a baker.  In fact, I barely have a sweet tooth.  But my five year old daughter thought that the Gooey Cinnamon Squares in the Smitten Kitchen cookbook looked really good so she suggested that we make them on Saturday.  She’ll make a baker out of me yet.

These gooey cinnamon squares are pretty good.  They remind me of my grandma who makes the best cinnamon toast ever.  These are a sweeter, goo-ier version with even more sugar and butter.

We had most of the ingredients on hand for the squares, but I did not have cream of tartar (what is this???).  We also needed to do our grocery shopping for the week so off to the grocery store we went.  We did not have the option of leaving the white haired monster at home so he came with us.  He had not been to the Stop N Shop since the last incident that involved a 1/2 gallon of milk being pulled out of the back of the cart and dumped onto the floor of the store resulting in a very, very big milk puddle.

At first, our trip to the store was going very nicely.  The kids were in the car cart (a little car attached to the shopping cart).  Each was strapped into their seats.   They were driving.  I was pushing.  But when we reached the dairy section of the store things went terribly wrong.  Somehow the white haired monster got his seatbelt unfastened.  He took off without shoes running down the dairy section squealing with delight at his new found freedom.  I eventually caught him and deposited him back in the car, but the ride was short-lived.  Off he went again.  This time peeling around the bakery section.  The bakers took pity on me and gave him a cookie.  He got back into the car to eat it.

And then as we were about to check out, the white haired monster escaped again — squealing as loud as his lungs enabled him, which is to say very, very loudly.  Up the cracker aisle he ran, attracting many a judgmental onlooker who stared at me.  Each with the “what a terrible mother who can’t control her child” look in her eyes.  A few laps later, basically the entire Stop ‘N Shop in Darien knew we were there (perhaps you saw us?).  The whole scene culminated with a screaming toddler being forced into the car, strapped in and being handed a banana.  Thankfully, this snack calmed him down so that we could check out and get the F out of there.  The high school checkout boy informed me that he thought the warranty on giving back the white haired monster had probably expired.  Sigh.

Now my grandmother would have managed this situation so much better than I did.  I was really trying to channel her peaceful, patient, kind ways, but they just weren’t coming through. Home in my kitchen I did a little better.   My daughter and I assembled the many ingredients.  I measured.  She dumped.  We beat together sugar and butter and added eggs in and eventually we had a three layer cinnamon creation.

I do not change baking recipes so I made it exactly according to direction.  I probably screwed some step up.  But I am not sure which one.  I am such a baking novice that I don’t feel that I am sufficiently experienced to even begin to provide advice on how to make these better or explain the recipe better.

I thought they were pretty good.  My daughter actually thought these squares were “too sweet,” but she thought we should make them again.  Her daddy really liked them so they’ll probably get a second try :).  Next time, we won’t be bringing the white haired monster to the store.

Gooey Cinnamon Squares
Cuisine: Sweets
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-20
Soft Cookie Base
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup milk
Gooey Layer
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup or honey
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch cake pan with parchment, allowing the ends to hang over at least 2 inches. Coat pan and parchment with cooking spray or butter. Set aside.
  2. Make the cookie base: Stir together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 min. Add the egg and milk and beat until combined. Stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Spread dough into an even layer in the prepared pan; set aside.
  3. Make the gooey layer: Whisk together the corn syrup or honey, milk, and vanilla in a bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer cream butter, 1 cup sugar and salt until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the flour and honey or corn syrup mixture alternately, mixing each time until all ingredients are incorporated. Dollop over the cookie base and spread into an even layer.
  4. Mix together the remaining 2 tbsp sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the gooey layer. Bake until edges have set and center is still gooey, 25-30 min. Let cool completely (this takes a few hours). Lift from pan using the parchment; cut into 1-inch squares. Can be kept covered at room temperature for 3 days.


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