soft cinnamon sugar butter bars

“I just wish I could stay home and make cookies,” I whined to my husband the other night. “I just want to experiment with new dishes, and write, and go on doing all the normal things I do every day.” I slumped over until my forehead rested on the table and I was talking to the wood. “I don’t want to go annnnnyyyywhere.”

My younger daughter wishes I would make cookies, too. I mixed up the dough for the gingerbread men a few days ago and she keeps pleading with me to make the cookies already. But it takes work to stand at the kitchen table and roll, slice, bake, and ice. I’d rather… I don’t know, trim my toenails or something.

Actually, that’s not true. I’d rather do just about anything than trim my toenails. But I’m trying to make a point. The point being that I don’t want to exert myself in frivolous baking even though I’d rather be baking.

It’s confusing, I know. Just go with it.

Part of the problem is that we don’t need cookies. We have butter bars in the freezer and who needs cookies when you have butter bars? Not me!

This was my second time making these bars. The first time they were wonderful and we scarfed them down. (The males in the family are particularly fond of these bars. The girls are not. I am a woman, not a girl. I love the bars.) The second time, I took more pictures and put some in the freezer so we wouldn’t eat them all at once.

These bars, though unassuming, are rather exotic. There are two parts to them: the firmer cookie-cake bottom and the softer, almost gooey, cookie-cake top. They remind me of a cross between a pound cake, dense and rich and vanilla-y, and a cinnamon flop or coffee cake. Serve the bars plain, with coffee or tea, or dress them up with a splat of whipped cream and some berries.

(Did I really just say “a splat of whipped cream?” I do believe I did. Oh dear.)

Soft Cinnamon-Sugar Butter Bars
Adapted (not much) from David Lebovitz, who, in turn, got the recipe from Deb of Smitten Kitchen

There are two parts to this recipe. Since the ingredient lists are similar, I make them simultaneously, with two sets of bowls. It’s a little confusing, but only for a couple minutes. The recipe comes together quickly. Just don’t multitask while making these cookies. Because you already are.

The cookie bottom:
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and milk. Add the dry ingredients. Spread the thick batter into a greased 9×13 pan.

The gooey top:
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
12 tablespoons butter
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, sugar
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the corn syrup, milk, and vanilla. Beat in the egg and salt. Add the flour.

Dollop the batter all over the thick batter. Spread it out as smoothly as possible.

2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

Stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over bars.

Bake the bars at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. The center should still be quite soft but no longer jiggly. The top should be golden brown and puffy.

Cool to room temperature before cutting into bars.

This same time, years previous: ginger-cream scones


  • KTdid

    When you said "annnnyyywhhheeere" were you speaking of some other country?! Or did you just want to squirrel out of local engagements that evening when you spoke to the table?

  • Margo

    ooooh, that texture looks JUST RIGHT to me. I have yet to bake a single Christmas cookie. I can't make any other desserts, either, until I make the cookies the season demands. RIght. I put cookie-baking on the calendar for tomorrow. We'll see. I'd rather sew.

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