Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

When it comes to baking, everyone has to start somewhere. Boxed cakes and brownies are easy, but they are like training wheels -- at some point, you have to lose the box and make it from scratch. And just like learning to ride a bike, you might fall off several times (or in this case forget to add key ingredients), but when you combine sugar and butter, you can rarely get too far off course.

My friend Heather (the one I visited in London) came to visit me for New Year's Eve. Now, I have experienced many a celebratory night (read: boozing 'til the wee hours of the morning) and breakfast the next day is always a challenge. When all you want to do is either (a) sleep or (b) recount the previous night's escapades, feeding the folks who crashed on your couch is a bit of a chore. So this NYE, I vowed to do it differently. I was not going to make the same mistake. Breakfast was going to be made beforehand. Enter cinnamon chocolate chip coffee cake (or as I fondly call this, the Quint C).

Heather arrived at about 5pm on NYE and I immediately put her to work. I was busy making caramel corn for the party we were having, and I gave her a coffee cake recipe and told her to go for it. And then came the confession: she had never baked anything from scratch before!

Does this sound familiar? Are you, dear reader, someone who looks at the mouthwatering photos on this blog but you yourself have never tried your hand at making something delicious from scratch? Well, as Linda wrote, I am not big on new year's resolutions, but if I could do one thing, it would be to remove your training wheels and get YOU into the kitchen. You'll thank me later.

To her surprise (and to her credit!), Heather did an amazing job with this coffee cake. It was a big hit on new year's day. It is dense and cinnamon-y with an almost secret layer of chocolate chips in the middle and topped with more...mmm. She kept warning everyone before they tried the coffee cake that it might be bad because it was her first time making anything like it. But she had nothing to fear -- it was really, really good. I may just have created a baker out of her :)

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
from (surprise, surprise) Smitten Kitchen
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated (which, if you are new to baking like my dear friend H, means putting the whites into one bowl and the yolks into another)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 16 oz. sour cream
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking soda
  • 12 oz. chocolate chips (i always spring for the good ones. they make a difference!)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar, then mix in the egg yolks and vanilla.
  3. Mix flour, baking soda and baking powder together into another bowl.
  4. Alternating, add sour cream and then the dry ingredients into butter/sugar/egg mixture.
  5. Beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter.
  6. Mix last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a separate, small dish.
  7. In a greased 9″x13″ pan, pour in half of the cake batter.
  8. Sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and half of the chocolate chips.
  9. Pour remaining batter on top, sprinkling the top with the remaining cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips.
  10. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

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