July 09, 2010

Cappuccino-Cinnamon Squares

I really owed some chocolatey cake to Wally. He put up with all my creams, mousses, pastries, brioche, and all the other very European desserts of the last month. But I know he is a chocolate (and coffee) craver so I owe him one. And I didn't have to look too far or to go fancy to decide what my treat for him would have been.

I picked up Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: from my Home to Yours"... I knew I was going to find the right thing there. And I knew that the success was guaranteed! In fact, I lied my eyes over the Cinnamon Squares and immediately thought "this is what I was looking for!". Then, as I always do with her book, I looked at the "play around" section, which reads: 

"If you like the cappuccino flavor combination of coffee and cinnamon, you can easily switch the balance in this recipe by adding a jolt of coffee flavor to the batter." 

That's it! I didn't need to read any further! THAT was really what I was looking for. Cappuccino, cinnamon, and chocolate all together?! You can't go wrong with this recipe. And in fact, we loved it!

Cinnamon Squares


1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips


6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

For the cappuccino flavor, mix 1 tablespoon instant espresso into the milk and warm the milk in a microwave oven until it is hot enough to dissolve the coffee. Cool the milk before adding it to the mixture as below.

For the cake:

Stir 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon and the espresso 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, shiny 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 a cooling 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.

For 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. 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.

Serve the cake as is or, if you'd like, with whipped cream, creme fraiche or sour cream.

Source:  Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan


  1. I love that book, too. It's never failed me. I love the combination of flavors in these squares--sounds like a winner. :-)

  2. I agree Jean: you can never fail with one of Dorie's recipes. And you never get bored cause you can make so many changes!


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