Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Last week was a wild one in New York City. Laughs about a Tuesday afternoon earthquake quickly turned into worries about Hurricane Irene, prompting evacuations, subway shutdowns and perhaps most disconcerting, the closing of Duane Reade.

My roommates and I quickly deserted our already leaky apartment, so I headed home to Maryland, buoyed by the promise of better food, better movies and well, no rainwater in my living room. Faced with the prospect of staying indoors for two straight days, I did what any normal person would do: I made cake.

Cinnamon-chocolate chip coffee cake, to be exact. Made with sour cream in an almost chiffon cake-style, bisected by swirls of cinnamon sugar and chocolate chips, this plush cake is pillow soft, airy and light, definitely worth all of the effort. And there is a bit of effort required (especially compared to these): using at least 3 bowls, separating eggs, washing beaters, folding whites, etc. Of course I made my life more difficult by halving the original recipe and therefore having to figure out how to halve 3 eggs, but what’s a morning in the kitchen without a little egg yolk on your pjs and a few of your favorite four-letter words?

In case you needed further proof that this cake is pretty friggin’ awesome, it even has hurricane-fighting abilities. By the time it had been pulled out of the oven, after wafting its spicy cinnamon air through the house for a good half hour, the rain had cleared and the sun was peeking out. Take that Irene!

Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

This recipe seemed pretty perfect as is, so I didn’t change anything, other than to halve it. I had a bit of a baking soda accident while measuring, however, which is why my cake rose and rose and rose. I’m giving my measurements here, for a 9-inch round cake (Deb’s measurements are for a 9-x-13 cake).

For the cake:

- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (1/2 a stick)

- 3/4 cup granulated sugar

- 1-1/2 eggs, separated*

- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

- 1 cup sour cream

- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

- 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling/topping:

- 1 cup chocolate chips (she recommends semi- or bittersweet, but I only had milk on hand)

- 1/4 cup sugar

- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

*To do this, I cracked 3 eggs, putting the whites into a measuring cup and the yolks into a separate bowl. I measured out half of the whites, and put each half in separate bowls. Then I washed out the measuring cup, then measured the yolks and poured half back in the original yolk bowl, and the rest into one of the whites bowls. I used the mixed egg bowl to make scrambled eggs, and was left with one bowl of 1-1/2 yolks and one bowl of 1-1/2 whites.

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch round baking pan and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, cream the butter and 3/4 cup sugar, until pale and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3) Mix 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter-egg yolk mixture until just combined. Then add 1/2 of the sour cream, and mix until just combined. Repeat with another third of the flour, then the rest of the sour cream, and then the rest of the flour, mixing until the batter is smooth and thick.

4) Wash your beaters, then beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold into the batter until incorporated. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon for the filling, then toss in the chocolate chips to coat them in the cinnamon sugar.

5) Spread half of the cake batter in the bottom of your baking pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar-chocolate mixture on top, and then cover with the remaining batter. Smooth the top, then top with the remaining sugar and chocolate chips.

6) Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Pair with a strong cup of coffee for a brunch or mid-afternoon treat. (Or in my case, both.)

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