A Very Short, Very Tasty Cake: Frosted Snickerdoodle Bars

I love cinnamon sugar, so snickerdoodles are one of my favorite cookies. But I've never seen a snickerdoodle the way that Shauna Sever presents them in Midwest Made: in bar form, with a generous layer of cinnamon frosting.

Making the batter for the bars is straightforward. You cream softened butter with brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, followed by milk; and incorporate the dry ingredients (flour, cream of tartar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon). You spread the batter into a 9-inch by 13-inch pan (the recipe says to line it with foil but I lined mine with parchment), and bake. A few minutes after I put the pan into the office I was cleaning up and I happened to glance at the spice rack where I spied the cream of tartar. It then dawned on me that I had forgotten to add it. Of course, by then it was too late to do anything about it, so I went ahead to finish baking the bars. I followed the directions to rap the pan both halfway through baking and after taking it out of the oven to deflate the bars. But what came out of the oven definitely looked more like cake than bars. The bars were level and didn't have the tall lip on the edges that you typically get with bar cookies.
After the bars were cool, I spread on a frosting made from butter, powdered sugar, cinnamon, milk, and salt. I beat it until it was light and fluffy and it seemed like an awful lot of frosting. The cookbook photo (the same photo you can see here) shows dense bars that are considerably taller at the edges than they are in the center, topped with a relatively thin layer of frosting. My bars looked like a very short cake that was completely level, topped with a layer of frosting that was almost as tall as the cake itself. I finished off the cake with a light sprinkling of more cinnamon.

I feared that my failure to include the cream of tartar would have a negative impact on the finished bars, especially the texture, so I kept my expectations low when I took my first bite. It was so, so good. My bars did in fact taste just like cake, but the cinnamon cake and the cinnamon frosting were both so delicious. I was afraid that the cake might be too spicy (there are equal amounts of cinnamon in the cake and frosting, and I used Penzey's Vietnamese cinnamon, which is fairly strong), but instead the bars were the perfectly combination of spicy and sweet. And while the amount of fluffy frosting was definitely excessive, I wasn't complaining -- it was decadent but delicious.

While I'm sure I would love these bars if they included the cream of tartar and were more cookie-like, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the cake version I made. What a serendipitous mistake!

Recipe: "Frosted Snickerdoodle Bars" from Midwest Made by Shauna Sever, recipe available here at The Splendid Table.