Kayte happened to mention to me last week that this week's Tuesdays with Dorie baking assignment was a recipe called "Cinnamon Squares." She also said that they were very easy. Both of these things piqued my interest, so I grabbed my copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours, which is always nearby, and looked up the recipe.
I couldn't find it. I went through every single cookie recipe Dorie Greenspan listed in that enormous book. Believe me, there are a lot of them. A lot. I sat, nonplussed, with the book in my lap on the last page of the Cookies section, wondering what the deal was. Suddenly, an epiphany! Perhaps the Cinnamon Squares foretold by Kayte -- those fragrant, geometrically augmented bits of legend -- were not cookies but some other type of dessert!
It's really hard to surpass the dynamic energy that my brain generates. I should be powering New York City. I'm just saying.
I found Cinnamon Squares on pages 210-211 in the cake section of the book (with a nice photograph of the finished product) and was happy to discover that it was easy, something the girls could whip up without too much fuss, either with the recipe or each other. Since I'm still dragging around like a basket of wet washing, I decided that I would sit at the kitchen table and supervise, so after assembling all the ingredients on the counter, I wearily slumped into a chair and called the girls.
"GIRRRRRRRRRRRLLLLSSSSSS!!!!" I screamed, throwing my head back and hoping my voice would carry upstairs. Incidentally, that used up my last available bit of physical energy for the day. Lucky for me I've still got that brain thing going, you know what I'm sayin'.
Meelyn and Aisling came into the kitchen and were unenthusiastic at the news that they were going to get the opportunity to bake a cake while I bossed them around.
"Really, you're baking the cake," Meelyn pointed out. "We're just serving as your arms."
"Kind of like Rasputin and Czar Nicholas," I said tartly.
Both girls looked at me, then looked at each other. "Sometimes I just don't get you," Aisling sighed.
The cake batter went together very easily. Cinnamon Squares have a ribbon of shaved chocolate and ground cinnamon that threads it way through the batter, making for a very nice-looking little cake. Baked in a 8x8 pan and cut into nine pieces, it's a good size for a family, giving everyone a small portion for tonight's dessert and another portion for tomorrow night's dessert, with one piece left over for whoever in the house is suffering from pneumonia.
This cake is topped with a very simple mixture of shaved bittersweet chocolate mixed with butter. Yup, that's it: You melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler, stirring them until they're thicky, shiny and spreadable. Then you spread it on the cake and allow it to harden -- easy peasy.
My final thought on this cake is that I'm not certain I'm loving the combination of chocolate and cinnamon all that much. Since Dorie encourages her readers to play around with her recipes, I'm thinking that I'd like the girls to make this again, taking out the shaved chocolate and the espresso powder that goes in the ribbon. We couldn't taste the espresso anyway, we found. I think I'd double the cinnamon-sugar mixture instead. And then I'd top it with good, old-fashioned vanilla buttercream frosting. That's so easy to make, and I think it would complement the cinnamony, buttery flavor of this nice little cake much better.
I do highly recommend this cookbook. It's fun to read and the recipes, for the most part, are so simple, which makes baking a real pleasure.
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