I love espresso. Do you know I would always spell it as expresso? For years I was doing this. I mean when you say it out loud it sounds like there is an X in there. Right? But if you are living in Italy then there are no X's expressed...it's all one lovely flowing beautiful language. uno scorre bella lingua. My Italian is good, no? That's when you say "sì, è in sospeso" (yes, it's outstanding).
Onto the latest creation of mine. I love my morning espresso. I drink about 1 or 2 cups per morning, depending on the day ahead of me. I love Illy coffee. It's so darn expensive, but it's really the only kind I can take. I need to feel like I am drinking real coffee, real coffee beans. Those mountainous cans of ground of coffee and powders in the grocery store are horrid and bitter. I do put a little bit of milk in my espresso so it's mostly a latte. With my love of espresso comes my love of creating baked goods using espresso. This cinnamon & espresso cake did not dissappoint at all. It was wonderful.
I think you could get away without using a glaze, but in all honesty, the espresso in the middle really went well with the glaze/frosting.
A note on the frosting: I tried my best to remember all the ingredients. It may be off a bit here and there, so taste it before using. I need to get one of those handheld recorders to speak into as I throw my ingredients in the bowl.
cinnamon & espresso cake
1 ¼ cups + 2 TB sugar
1 TB + 2 ts cinnamon
1 ½ ts espresso powder (such as medaglia D'oro)
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 ts baking powder
a big pinch of sea salt
3/4 cup half & half or light cream
2 large eggs
1 ts pure vanilla extract
9 TB unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ cup mini chocolate chips (no substitutions, as the mini's work best here)
6 oz bittersweet chocolate morsel or block, chopped
2 TB unsalted butter, soft
Less than half a block of cream cheese, room temp
A tiny pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter or spray an 8-inch square cake pan. You can line with parchment paper, but I didn’t need to. In a small bowl, combine 2 TB of sugar, 2 ts of cinnamon, and the espresso powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, remaining cinnamon and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk the half & half, eggs, and vanilla.
Pour the wet mixture over the flour mixture and gently whisk until almost combined. Don’t overmix! Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, fold in the melted butter, just until the butter is absorbed.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan, spread evenly.
Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over the batter and then top with the cinnamon expresso sugar mixture. Top with the remaining batter, spreading it evenly and slowly. Spreading the top half is a bit tricky as you don’t want to spread the middle filling around, so just go slow; working inside to the outside in small little circles.
Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F, just until a toothpick comes out clean. Please turn pan around halfway, during the middle of cooking. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and remove the parchment. Turn it out again onto another rack so it is right side up.
(The cake will look dark, very dark while it cooks, that’s the cinnamon—it’s not burning.)
For the frosting, put the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and fit the bowl over a pan of simmering (not boiling!) water. Stir until the chocolate and butter have completely melted and it is super shiny and smooth. Add in the cream cheese. Remove from heat and combine well. (If it gets too thin, let it stand for about 10 minutes and it will eventually thicken up). Spread on the top of the cake and allow the frosting to set up before serving. If it does not set, put it in the fridge for an hour or more, and it will harden up.