In the library, in the cookbook section, I spotted Baking ~ From my home to yours and remembered how I wanted to check it out.
A few days later, sometime around midnight, I was browsing the epically delicious recipes looking for a simple enough one to make. What I mean by "simple" is that I don't have to wait for the butter to soften to room temperature since I rarely plan that far ahead. When my eyes passed over the recipe for Cinnamon Squares, and my eyes noted that the butter was melted, that settled matters.
Featuring a full on cinnamon flavored cake, this would best be described as a tricked out coffee cake with the layer of chocolate chips that are dusted with a combination of sugar, cinnamon, and espresso powder. After all is assembled and baked, a rich coating of melted chocolate with butter is spread and swirled on top. I never really understood the craze you people have about chocolate (yes, you know who you are) until I woke up around brunch time the next day (or the same day, later on) and licked the melted chocolate-butter spoon.
So the only step that caused me to pause was how the recipe states to place the baking pan on a baking sheet, which I assumed was to promote even distribution of heat. My oven could be off, but after 40 minutes the cake wasn't done, though I took it out and watched the stages of sinking take place. Lesson learned: You may think it's a great idea to bake late at night, but do try to remember that you then cannot become disinterested when the mixing is over and the dishes remain to be washed and the cake needs a few more minutes to bake.
All in all, I will be making this again. Since the cake part wasn't overly sweet and given that I used semisweet chips in place of bittersweet, I enjoyed this for breakfast, although I really ate it for brunch. Perfect at all hours of the day. Perfect for a lazy baker. Or as Dorie said, in a few more words than this, it's as good at a brunch as it is as a midnight snack.
Stay tuned for more to come from this cookbook.
Recipe after the jump
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
frosting ingredients ~
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- To make the cake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper (I think I greased the paper). Place the pan on a baking sheet.
- Stir 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon and the espresso powder together in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, the baking powder, salt and the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture and gently whisk until you have a homogeneous batter. Now, using the whisk or a rubber spatula, fold in the butter with a light touch, just until the butter is absorbed. You'll have a smooth, satiny batter.
- Scrape half of the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the chocolate over the batter and dust with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cover with the rest of the batter and smooth the top again.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan; a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the cake to the cooking rack and let it rest for 15 minutes before unmolding it onto another rack. Peel off the paper, invert it onto the first rack, and cool to room temperature right side up.
- To make the frosting: Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and fit the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, stirring gently and often, just until they melt. (Now, I just placed the chocolate and butter right in the heatproof bowl because I was lazy when I made this. I understand the point of a double boiler and I use it often, but in case you don't want to go through the trouble I'm here to tell you that as long as you pay close attention, use a little lower heat and stir just as often, the resulting frosting will be fine.) Be careful not to overheat the mixture so much that it thins out; the chocolate should be smooth, very shiny, thick and spreadable. (If it thins, leave the frosting at room temperature for a bit, until it thickens a little.)
- Using an offset metal icing spatula or a table knife, spread the frosting in generous sweeps and swirls over the top of the cake. Allow the frosting to set at room temperature, then cut the cake into 9 squares, each about 2 1/2 inches on a side.