Gooey cinnamon squares

Is it a bar, or is it cake? Either way, these gooey cinnamon squares from the smitten kitchen cookbook are amazing. It was Teacher Appreciation Week at Addison’s daycare, and the theme for the day was to bake up something special for your teacher. I found these in my cookbook and knew that this was the treat that I’d make for Addie’s teacher.

The cinnamon-y goodness cannot be missed in this awesome bar/cake, and the creme brulee-ish topping is what brings the entire thing together. Who can resist a crunchy cinnamon sugar topping? Certainly not me.

My only disappointment was that my cake seemed less gooey than advertised. I baked my bars for only 25 minutes, and the centers firmed up too much (they resembled the texture of a normal cake). The next time, I will try baking for 20 minutes instead.

I was surprised to hear that Addie’s teacher shared these with other teachers at the daycare. I had secretly hoped that she kept these all for herself (I totally would have kept these to myself). She deserves it.

Gooey cinnamon squares

Deb Perelman's well-loved gooey cinnamon squares. They're amazing!
Prep Time35 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bars, Cake
Servings: 32
Author: Eva Bakes


Soft cookie base

  • 1 and 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
  • 1/4 cup milk

Gooey layer

  • 1/4 cup honey can sub with light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream can sub with whole milk or half and half; 2% could work too
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Cinnamon sugar topping

  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper and be sure to leave a 2-inch overhang. (I did not use parchment paper and my bars turned out fine; but, I did generously grease my pan.)

Make the soft cookie base

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl if using a hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the egg to the butter and sugar mixer and mix until just incorporated. Turn the mixer to low and add half the flour mixture, then half of the milk. Add the remaining flour mixture, then the milk and mix just until combined. Using a knife or offset spatula, evenly spread the cookie base batter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.

Make the gooey layer

  • In a small bowl, mix together the honey (or corn syrup), heavy cream and vanilla and set aside.
  • In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl if using a hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the egg and let it fully incorporate into the mixture. Then sprinkle in the salt. Add the flour in three separate additions, alternating with the milk/honey mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Using an offset spatula or knife, evenly distribute and spread the batter over the cookie base.

Make the topping

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and ground cinnamon. Sprinkle this evenly over the gooey layer.
  • Bake in your preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. The gooey layer will eventually set once the bars have completely cooled.
  • Remove the bars from the oven, let it completely cool, and then slice.


Bars can be store in an air-tight container at room temperature for several days.
Source: The smitten kitchen cookbook, pages 207-208

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