Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cinnamon-Cardamom Squares

I love any opportunity to bake. When a good friend offered to cook an Indian feast for M., me and a few other friends, I welcomed the chance to try a new recipe. The recipe for Dorie Greenspan's Cinnamon Squares practically jumped at me when I took From My Home to Yours down off the shelf. I looked at a couple others, but I kept returning to the Cinnamon Squares. I had all the ingredients, and I even thought that if I added a touch of cardamom to the recipe, it would compliment our Indian feast perfectly.

And the results were divine. The cake is spicy and flavorful with a strong cinnamon and cardamom taste. Still the combination of the flavors remain balanced, especially in contrast to the chocolate. The chocolate frosting compliments the cake perfectly, and the touch of espresso added a new richness and dimension of flavor to the combination of flavors. The cake was easy to prepare, and the results were easy to transport to the dinner. This will be one for the tried-and-true files!

Cinnamon-Cardamom Squares
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's From My Home to Yours
serves 9

For the Cake
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 T plus 2 1/2 t cinnamon (I used 1 T plus 2 t cinnamon, and 1/2 cardamom)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (I used freshly ground espresso beans)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup whole milk (I used 1%)
2 large eggs
1/2 t vanilla
1 stick plus 2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 oz bittersweet chocolate finely chopped (or 1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips)

For the Frosting
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 T unsalted butter, cut into four pieces

Getting Ready
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan, and line bottom with parchment or wax paper. Place pan on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake
Stir two tablespoons of the sugar, 2 1/2 of the cinnamon (or cinnamon/cardamom) and the espresso together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, the baking powder, salt and the remaining 1 T of cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together milk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture, and whisk gently until you have a homogenous batter. Now, using the whisk or rubber spatula, fold in the butter with a light touch until the butter is absorbed. You'll have a smooth satiny batter.

Scrape half of the batter into the pan. Smooth the top. Sprinkle the chocolate over the batter, and dust with the cinnamon-cardamom-sugar mixture. Cover the rest of the batter, and smooth the top again.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until cake is puffed and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. A thin knife inserted into the middle will come out clean. Transfer 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.

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. Be careful not to overheat mixture, the chocolate should be smooth, very shiny, thick and spreadable.

Using an offset metal icing spatula, or table knife, spread frosting in generous sweeps and swirls over the top of the cake. Allow frosting to set at room temperature. Cut cake into 9 squares, each with about 2 1/2 inches on a side.


Bekki said...

Thank you so much for posting about the Cinnamon squares. I'm planning on making them this week for a dinner at a friend's, but was nervous b/c I couldn't find any reviews.

The picture looks great, and now I know they'll be a hit :)

Helios said...

Bekki - This cake was really excellent. I do hope you try it, and enjoy it as much as we did. Yum!