After curling up with a bowl of homemade soup, you probably just want to keep on hibernating and take a piece of freshly baked cake with you, too. Here’s a recipe for Cinnamon Chocolate-Chip Coffee Cake, one of my tried and true, easiest cakes to make, a slight variation on Dorie Greenspan’s Cinnamon Squares [she's my baking idol + the baker behind Beurre and Sel]. If you have a pantry stocked with all the staples, then you shouldn’t need to go out to get anything extra. I’ve even improvised with some of the ingredients, as you can see below. You don’t need any fancy equipment, either, so if you’re craving something sweet to go with your coffee, you can just whip this up and in an hour, it’s all yours.
1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
5 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee [or espresso powder]
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
pinch of salt [I usually put more than a pinch because I love salt!]
1/2 cup of water + 1/4 cup almond milk [or you can use 3/4 cup of whole milk - I've used regular milk before but found that this water + almond milk combination made a super moist cake]
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
about 3 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate [chips or chopped up] – to be honest, I just threw in the rest of a bag (maybe 1/3 of a bag) of Ghirardelli semisweet chips because I wanted to use it up. And then I ate some chips as I was baking, so I really have no idea how much I used. I say there’s no such thing as too much chocolate, so add as much as you want.
Prep: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8×8 [or you can use 9x9 if that's all you've got] pan and set aside – if you want to serve it out of the pan, butter parchment paper and line the pan with it. To prepare the cinnamon-y inside, stir 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon and the instant coffee together in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining sugar, the baking powder, salt and the remaining cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla – make sure all ingredients are at about room temperature. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture and, still using the whisk, gently stir until there are no more lumps. Gently, using a spatula, fold in the butter only until it is absorbed into the batter.
Scrape half of the batter into the pan and make sure it is evenly distributed throughout the pan. Sprinkle the chocolate over the batter and dust evenly with the cinnamon-sugar-coffee mixture. Cover with the rest of the batter and smooth the top.
Slide the pan into the oven and bake 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for before eating. If you used parchment paper, wait 15 minutes before unmolding it onto a rack. Peel off the paper, invert, and cool to room temperature right side up on a rack. I didn’t do this but chocolate or cream cheese frosting would be great on top – serve with tea or coffee and try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting!