The Recipe: Thick, chewy snickerdoodle bars, just like snickerdoodle cookies except with the firm, chewy texture of blondies. The edge pieces are especially good! Texture makes Snickerdoodle Bars special but it’s the cinnamon that makes them stand out. Kids love ‘em, grown-ups too.
The Conversation: How to make your house smell cinnamon-good! Are you switching cinnamon to prevent liver damage?
We all know that famous realtor trick, right? The one where we’re supposed to bake chocolate chip cookies right before showing our homes to prospective buyers? The idea is to make a house feel homey, a place where another family will feel at home.
Well, move along, chocolate chip cookies because there’s a new kid who’s moved to town. Snickerdoodle Bars!
Think warm, fragrant cinnamon.
The first time I made Snickerdoodle Bars, I accidentally left out the baking powder. It happens, right, especially when you’re churning out a half dozen dishes at once? Without leavening, the bars turned out like sandy shortbread instead of soft and chewy blondie-like, chewy cookie-like Snickerdoodle Bars.
But man oh man – the texture didn’t matter because the house smelled so good! When our friends walked in, the first thing out of their mouths was, “What smells so good?”
My dear friend Lisa from My Own Sweet Thyme had given spot-on good advice. I’d asked whether I could make what she calls Snickerdoodle Blondies the day before our party. “When time isn’t an issue,” she said, “I prefer to make them the same day. They smell so good!”
IS NOTHING SAFE? Turns out, common supermarket cinnamon and even gourmet cinnamon is based on “cassia cinnamon” whose component coumarin, when eaten in high amounts, can cause liver damage. This includes my very favorite Penzey’s cinnamon, the Vietnamese Extra-Fancy. While some scoff, the European Union has even limited the cinnamon in much-loved Danish baked goods.
For anyone who tops morning oatmeal with cinnamon, it looks wise to choose the milder, sweeter Ceylon cinnamon: or you know, accept that life is filled with risks of all sorts and if cinnamon’s lovely scent and intoxicating flavor makes us happy, well, let’s look twice before crossing the street, then move on.
CHOCOLATE SNICKER DOODLE BARS, a big disappointment. The five-year old twins like Snickerdoodle Bars so much, they’ve become a go-to quick snack. One batch, I substituted 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder for 2 tablespoons of the flour and added a teaspoonful to the Snickerdoodle Topping. They were good, they got snatched up too! The only thing? The cocoa powder makes you “think” you’re eating a brownie, not a Chocolate Snickerdoodle Bar. But they aren’t chocolate-y enough for a brownie so in fact, disappoint. Weird, I know.
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 1 8X8 pan, double for a 9x13
- ½ cup (1 stick/113g) salted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) brown sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1-1/3 cups flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 165g
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat oven to 350F. Spray a metal baking pan with cooking spray.
BARS In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, beat for 1 minute.
If you like, in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Or use my unorthodox but effective technique: dump the flour onto the dough, carefully measure the baking powder and salt onto the flour, then with a fork, gently mix the baking powder into the flour, without mixing it into the dough. Turn the mixer back on to combine the flour mixture into the dough. It will be quite thick, more like cookie dough than a cake batter.
With an offset spatula or knife, spread the dough evenly across the pan, paying special attention to the corners.
SNICKERDOODLE TOPPING Stir together the sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle evenly across the dough.
BAKE Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the edges begin to pull away from the sides. Cool a bit, then cut into squares.
MAKE-AHEAD Lisa says that Snickerdoodle Bars will keep for several days, she’s also frozen them. If it were me, I would lift the baked bars out in one piece, before they’re cut, to freeze.
ALANNA’s TIPS A 9x9 baking pan will also work but the bars will be 25% thinner so check the oven after 15 minutes. Snickerdoodle Bars are a very simple bar. If I were tempted to “fancy up” Snickerdoodle Bars, I might add some finely chopped toasted pecans.
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