Gooey Cinnamon Squares

When I first started blogging recipes 5 years ago it was largely because of what was happening over at Smitten Kitchen, my favorite food blog. Deb’s recipes and posts made me interested in food in a way I never had before. I wanted to be a better cook and I discovered a love for baking.

It sounds very odd to say that because of Deb I went to culinary school and started a food blog (or maybe it’s because of that first job I had out of college where I had nothing to do but surf the internet all day and drool over food), but it’s sort of true.


I was so excited for The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook which came out last year. I’ve made more recipes from it in the last few months than I have from other cookbooks that have been on my shelf for years. I’ve baked these gooey cinnamon squares a few times now and they are wonderfully dangerous. They’re like a cross between a snickerdoodle cookie and a gooey butter cake— and I can’t stop eating them.

Gooey Cinnamon Squares

Deb came to Salt Lake City last week to promote her cookbook and a few local bloggers and I had the chance to sit down and chat with her for an hour. It was sublime to have that kind of almost 1:1 conversation and she is even sweeter in person. Thanks Deb, for inspiring us all.

Now quick, go bake these gooey cinnamon squares!

Gooey Cinnamon Squares

The challenge to not over bake

It’s hard to know when to take things out of the oven, at least for me. I’m constantly peeking into the oven and thinking to myself “maybe just a few more minutes…” Often our fear of under baking trumps our concern of over baking and we bake things a little longer than we should.

Sometimes it’s not really noticeable, other times it is. If you bake these gooey cinnamon squares for too long, you lose the gooey layer and the best thing about them. Take these out of the oven when the cinnamon sugar is crisp, the edges have browned, but the gooey layer is still very gooey and seemingly under baked. It will firm up when it cools, I promise.

Gooey Cinnamon Squares

Gooey Cinnamon Squares
Half gooey butter cake and half snickerdoodle cookie, these squares are irresistible.
Yield: 24 squares
Cookie base:
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk
  • 1½ cup (188 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Gooey layer:
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper with a 2-inch overhang.
To make the cookie base:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the egg, mixing until incorporated. Add the flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the milk, and mix just until combined. Spread batter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
To make the gooey layer:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, milk, and vanilla. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the egg, mixing until incorporated, followed by the salt. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Spread the batter evenly over the cookie base in the baking dish.
To make the topping:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and ground cinnamon to make the topping. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Bake until top is golden brown, 25-30 minutes. The gooey layer won't set until the squares have cooled completely.
  2. Let cool, then slice into 2-inch squares. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

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25 Responses to Gooey Cinnamon Squares

  1. Liz says:

    I can’t wait to try these – I love cinnamon! If I can sneak it in all my baking I would!

  2. Ah yum, these look and sound lovely!

  3. Janine says:

    These look incredible! Not something you want to see when you’re trying not to eat sugar for five days…

  4. omg…these look amazing! Snickerdoodles are my favorite!! As soon as my sugar free march is over, Im trying these for sure!!

  5. awww look how happy you look there :) so pretty!! i think it’s so awesome that you got to meet your idol and that you look up to Deb so much – a lot of us do too and I think you’re such an inspiration for going to culinary school to feed (ha) your passion! these cinnamon squares look SO gooey and delicious! i’d love the pan, please!

  6. I SO love Smitten Kitchen, too! Deb’s recipe are always very inspiring!
    These bars look truly delicious, and I bet they’d be perfect with a cup of tea or a mug of coffee in the morning!

    xo, Elisa

  7. Maria says:

    It was fun meeting Deb, she is fab! Now I need to make these:)

  8. I love this post! Smitten Kitchen is definitely an amazing inspiration and was probably the first food blog I ever really started following. I’m so jealous that you got to meet her! Never wash those hands again! Just kidding, you work with food. That would be gross.

  9. Awesome post! Sounds like such a fun experience. Way before I even considered writing a blog, Deb’s was also one of the first blogs I started reading!

    Cinnamon squares are going in my oven asap!!

  10. Sues says:

    I got Deb’s cookbook a couple months ago and this recipe is definitely marked!! I have a feeling she’s influenced more than a few food bloggers :)

    I wish I had these in front of me for breakfast!!

  11. I love how ridiculously happy you look. :)

    And Smitten Kitchen was the first and only blog I read for about 6 months. Then I realized there were other food blogs, too. Crazy.

    Anyway, these bars look incredible! I love anything with the word gooey in it and cinnamon / snickerdoodly is even better. :)

  12. These bars do look incredible- I love anything snicker doodle! I’m so glad you got the chance to meet Deb and thank you for organizing what turned out to be such a fun night. You are incredible at what you do and the recipes you put out are drool worthy. Anytime I need a dessert, I come here first for inspiration. Deb inspired you, you inspire me. Funny how that works! Keep it up, friend!!

  13. Emily says:

    These are insanely delicious. A little labor intensive, but well-worth it! I didn’t have corn syrup, so I used honey. Best made for a large group, so that you don’t eat the whole pan yourself!

  14. AmyRuth says:

    Yes, I have baked these in the bakery where I work and at home in an oven (new), with whom I am getting acquainted. Gosh it is hard to know….when to pull them out. At home where I had less to loose, they were way underdone and actually raw. I do love gooey and have vowed to myself when I bake another batch at the bakery to listen to the little voice in my head that says “now” and pull them from the oven. he he Thanks for the encouragement and yep the tempting photos. They help. This one was a stumper.

    • Annalise says:

      It is hard to know when to pull them out! The first time I baked them they were overdone and completely set (no gooey layer), but still 100% edible and delicious. My guests had no idea they weren’t right. The second time I made them I listened to that voice, like you said, and just went with it. And they were perfect! It would be a hard call at a bakery though, good luck!

  15. Sandra says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe of gooey cinnamon squares. I can’t wait to try them and really appreciate that you give the measurements in grams too as I live in Switzerland and we don’t have “sticks” of butter here with a specific weight!!
    I have an important question though! What can I use to replace the corn syrup in the gooey layer? I don’t even know what that is and it definitely doesn’t exist in Europe as far as I know! Is it sweet? If so, could I use light molasses to replace it? Thank you so much for telling me when you see this message! Sandra

  16. Fran says:

    Can you make ahead and freeze these?

  17. Fran says:

    Has anyone tried freezing these?

  18. Deb c says:

    What did I do wrong?
    My bars turned out like a cakes, rather than a cookie base & gooey center.

    • Annalise says:

      Sounds like they were over baked. Baking time can vary from oven to oven, so next time try taking them out a few minutes earlier.

    • Manda says:

      As the cake was cooling, Was imagining the taste and feel the texture in my mouth of ooey gooey- ness but the final product was far from this. Mine came out more like a cake around the outside but the inside was still kind of raw. I am not sure what happened but I am leery about trying it again.

  19. Molly says:

    Do you think it would work, subbing real maple syrup for the light corn syrup? A maple, cinnamon flavor sounds delicious to me, but I wonder if the texture would be affected.

  20. maci says:

    ah! these look so good! for some reason they struck me today like they never have before when i’ve flipped by them in her book. also, i started my blog because of deb too… i get it :)

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