Gooey Cinnamon Butter Squares
I know it’s 90 degrees here in Austin, TX, but once in awhile you just need some really good comfort food. For those days when there’s 5 loads of laundry that need to be done while another 2 loads are still waiting to be folded and dinner needs to be made, but darn it, you forgot to buy sweet paprika and not smoked paprika and it might just ruin dinner! …. These are the days when you need something that warms your thoughts and comforts your exhausted, frazzled mothering soul…. And this recipe all that and a bag of chips! I came across this dessert while perusing the cookbook aisle at Half Priced Books. BTW that place is one of my favorite places to visit! It has the vibe of Strand Book Store in New York, without all the dust and unventilated air! And I’m sure that those of you who’ve been there, know what I’m talking about! I love that place, but I seriously can’t breathe in there! Anyhoo’s, I’ve loved Smitten Kitchen for years, but living under a rock, I’ve never seen her cookbook! Just flipping through it made me want to make everything in there! And these Gooey Cinnamon Butter Squares hooked me and the rest of my family right away!
Just the name itself makes you wonder doesn’t it? Gooey? YES! Cinnamon? YES! Butter? YES! The idea for these comes from a St.Louis Gooey Butter Cake. And Guys, if you haven’t tried it… please do! It’s everything your comfort craving body wants! Soft, buttery, sugary…gooey….I tried it once, when a family friend who lives in St. Louis graciously brought one over and honestly, my husband and I savored it for days… cutting small squares everynight, hoping it’ll last forever. Alas… it did not… but the memory of it did. I’ve been having a hard time finding a recipe for it that didn’t require a boxed cake mix! Say it isn’t so, that one of my favorite cakes came from a box mix!? Until… I discovered this gem of a recipe, and with the addition of cinnamon… it really brings home the comfort factor!
The recipe is fairly simple to make, the only 2 things thats difficult is that 1. it’s made in two layers so you gotta wash that mixing bowl… boo… and 2. you gotta allow yourself to use so much butter in one dessert… but we’re talking comfort food here, not diet food!
It starts with a stick of butter in the soft cake like base. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the egg, milk and beat until combined. Then the dry ingredients get added until just combined. This thick batter gets spread into your greased parchment lined pan. Then set aside and wash your mixing bowl!
Now for the gooey good stuff! A mixture of salted butter (this is my preference but the original recipe didn’t state which), sugar and salt are creamed until light and fluffy yet again. Beat in an egg. Then in a separate bowl, whisk together corn syrup, half and half and vanilla. Beat in 1/3 of the flour, then 1/2 of the liquid and then repeat alternating flour and liquid until its all mixed in. Spread this gooey layer on top of the cake layer and set aside. Ok, I lied… it’s kind of like 3 layers… but I promise its worth it!
In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon, sugar and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the gooey layer and throw this into the oven for about 30 minutes. The gooey layer will bubble and rise up all puffy, but will settle once its out of the oven. It’s ok for the top layer to jiggle a bit once its cooked… hence, the “gooey” layer! Allow to cool, then cut into 1-2” squares!
Oh my goodness these are good. Soft like a pillow at the end of the day, sweet and slightly salty, just like your best friend and that cinnamon sugar on top is just the icing on the cake. Make this today!! Like right now… Go!!
Warm Gooey Cinnamon Butter Squares
*Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook with a few tweaks
Yields 2 dozen squares
For the cake-like base
8 tbsp salted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
For the gooey layer
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup half and half
1 tbsp vanilla extract
12 tbsp salted butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup and 2tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9X13” rectangular pan with cooking spray, line with parchment, leaving an inch or two of overhang and spray with cooking spray again. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt) set aside.
Cream together the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and milk and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides and add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Spread this batter into the prepared pan (using an offset spatula helped me greatly!) set aside.
In a large measuring cup or small bowl. Whisk together the corn syrup, half and half and vanilla extract together. Set aside.
Cream together the butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides and add in 1/3 of the flour then the half and half mixture, alternating until It has been all mixed. Dollop this over the cake batter and spread evenly over top.
Mix together the cinnamon, sugar and salt and sprinkle this over the top of the previous layer.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. The top layer will still be a bit jiggly under the cinnammon sugar crust! Allow to cool and cut into 1-2” squares!