Cinnamon Squares


The cinnamon squares turn out very tender and moist, if a little crumbly.  Even someone who hates gluten-free desserts surprised himself by liking them.

Baking Notes:

  • Make sure to line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, or it will be hard to get the cake out in one piece.
  • If using gluten-free flour, use over 1/2 of the batter in the bottom layer because the chocolate chips will sink while baking.


Cinnamon Squares
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 9 squares

For the cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 3/4 cups gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped OR 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped OR 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces


  1. Center rack in oven and preheat to 350ºF.  Butter 8″ x 8″ baking pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper.  Place pan on a baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, and espresso (if using).
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla.
  5. Pour liquid mixture over flour mixture and gently whisk until batter is homogeneous.
  6. Using the whisk or a rubber spatula, fold in butter just until butter is absorbed.  The batter will be smooth and satiny.
  7. Scrape about half of batter (or over half of the batter if using gluten-free flour) into the pan and smooth the top.
  8. Sprinkle chocolate over the batter.  Then sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over the chocolate.
  9. Cover with the rest of the batter and smooth the top.
  10. Bake for 65-70 minutes if gluten free, OR 35-40 minutes if not.  (Yes, the gluten-free version takes a lot longer to bake.)  The cake will look puffed and start to pull away from the sides of the pan.  A thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean.
  11. Transfer pan to wire rack and let it cool for 15 minutes before unmolding it onto another rack.
  12. Peel off paper, invert onto first rack, and cool to room temperature right side up.
  13. After the cake has cooled, put the chocolate and butter in a small non-stick saucepan.  Melt them together on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn.  The mixture will be smooth, very shiny, thick, and spreadable.  (If it thins out from overheating, leave it at room temperature for a bit until it thickens a little.)
  14. Using an offset metal icing spatula or table knife, spread frosting in generous sweeps and swirls over the top of the cake.
  15. Allow frosting to set at room temperature, then cut cake into 9 squares.

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