Tuesday, June 2, 2009

TWD: Cinnamon Squares



This week, in the Tuesdays With Dorie baking club (in which we are baking our way through Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours) Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures chose the recipe on page 210-211--CINNAMON SQUARES!

In reading the TWD comments/questions on this particular recipe there seemed to be a lot of folks who do not like the combo of cinnamon and chocolate. It made me wonder if it would be another recipe like last week when, to me, the combo of brownies and chocolate chip cookie dough were two powerful forces that combined to a not-so-perfect dessert. (I liked it, but reported back that I thought the 2 amazing recipes sort of canceled each other out). Would this week's flavor combo--two other favorites of mine namely chocolate and cinnamon fall to the same fate?? The answer is....sort of. I'm on the fence, and think I need a reality check.

Let's back up to a year ago, before I joined Tuesdays with Dorie. I loved to bake, but kept things to a simple repertoire...though I did branch out and try my first 'from scratch' cake just prior to joining TWD. This led me to want to bake more, and perfect timing, it was very soon after that my college roomie Cathy approached me about TWD.

So I think that the past 2 recipes I have been hard on Ms. Greenspan--saying that desserts aren't ones I 'loved'--when really, when I step back and think about it, they really are amazing recipes. I think with desserts like the Pear Tart and the French Yogurt Cake, or Banana Cream Pie, and some of the others we've done--that have sent me off for days saying how amazing they are, that they are the 'best' recipes yet, and other such praise, that when a recipe does not garner THAT over-the-top reaction, I tend to say "eh, it's good, it's ok" as I did last week--and was about to this week! I tasted the cinnamon squares again tonight, with the mindset of me 365 days ago--and know that I really like these--and that I would make them for guests for sure.

I thought that I need to come up with a rating scale...because basically let's face it, when you get an "this is good" in a Dorie recipe, it would translate to anyone else used to the norm brownie and cookies made-from-a-box as "amazing/great/out of this world." I think I'm becoming spoiled by some of the more fanciful desserts Dorie's book has sent my way?!

So although I did not do cartwheels in the kitchen (which probably would have been a bad idea--if not impossible-- at 34 weeks pregnant), I DID in fact really like the cinnamon squares. Are they a French Pear Tart? No--but they're not supposed to be either.

I can see having these squares at the end of meal, when coffee drinks are being poured as the flavors certainly lend themselves to a cup of coffee (no doubt in part because of the espresso powder we added.)

This recipe came together rather easily--I must admit I love the 'just mix in a bowl' (or 2 as this case) as it means I don't have to deal with the big Kitchen Aid. You basically make the cinnamon cake batter, pour half in a square pan, top with chocolate chips and cinnamon-sugar-espresso powder combination and then top with the 2nd half of the cake batter.

It called for an 8" square pan, and I only had 8.5" so I baked it under the time called for.




After cooling out on the cooling rack, I put together the frosting....
"Look, ma, 1 hand!"--a.k.a me stirring while I snap an action shot:


And with a few swoops of the spatula--voila!


Changes to recipe:
I found I had only 2 oz left of 'bittersweet' chocolate--so my recipe for the frosting is mostly 'semi' sweet chocolate w/ just 2 oz of bittersweet (and the layer of chocolate that is in the middle--bittersweet was called for, but its all semi-sweet.) Still tastes fine by me..though I tend to have a sweet tooth.

So, Dorie--if you are out there in blog-land, I apologize for my lackluster report last week--and for almost doing the same this week. These really are fun, tasty gooodies that I would serve again. If anything it's because some of your other recipes I have had the good fortune of baking from your book are THAT amazing that it spoiled me for some of the others that are fine, just as they are. (There I go quoting Bridget Jones's Diary again...oh that Darcy)

AND IN OTHER NEWS....
Had my baby shower this past weekend--was fabulous!! Had lots of family and friends, and my sisters and sisters-in-law threw me a great celebration! The only photo I have right now is one of me and my 2 sisters, back at my house at the end of a long--but fabulous--day! So 6 weeks and counting...after this weekend it's really hitting home: there really is a baby moving into the house!!

24 comments:

Leslie said...

Dorie's desserts set such high expectations for simple recipes such as this one. Yours looks wonderful! I'm so glad I didn't sit this one out as it is one of my favorites to date.

Steph said...

The frosting looks so pretty! I wish I could work with a spatula like that.

Mary said...

I totally agree..unless something is "the best one ever"..it can be disappointing because Dorie is so amazing...

Amanda said...

I'm glad this worked out for you! It did smell Heavenly, but something went wrong with mine. Amazingly, my ribbon didn't sink LOL

Pamela said...

How fun that you had your baby shower!! Can you believe all of the stuff you have now? Hard to believe one little person needs so much, right? GOOD LUCK! Oh yeah...the cake looks wonderful. Your frosting looks amazing.

Prudy said...

Oh, 34 weeks! You're almost there. I have two sisters that are due right when you are. Not to mention another sister that just had a baby. I'm being surrounded! I loved what you wrote about today. It is hard to judge a Dorie. I felt like you did about the chipster brownies. I like them better on their own. I skipped the chocolate on the cinnamon squares for the same reasons.

Anne said...

I know what you mean about Dorie's desserts changing expectations! Your cake looks yummy and that's sure exciting about the baby coming soon. :)

spike. said...

It is hard baking every week- makes me so picky about recipes! I loved the choc/cinn combo on this one though

Flourchild said...

Great looking squares! Im glad you liked this recipe. I will have to try it soon since I missed it this time.

Melissa said...

Congrats and good luck for the last few weeks of your pregnancy. I'm pregnant too, but only 15 weeks, so I have a waaaaays to go! Your cinnamon squares look great, and I agree that these were not the "best of the best" of Dorie, but still good nonetheless. I guess we've gotta try them in order to decide that, and occasionally we come across those ones that have us singing from the rooftops! Hopefully we'll get one of those recipes soon! :-)

Megan said...

After awhile, we all seem to be a bit jaded in our opinion of all the desserts. They are all great, but like you said, we can't be doing cartwheels over every recipe.

Kayte said...

So exciting about the baby...great photo of you all. Your squares looked great. It's fun to see everyone's ribbons of chocolate and swirling chocolate on the top...how are you all getting that to do that??? Great post...and I agree, we need some sort of rating scale!

chocolatechic said...

Dorie does dessert justice.

I found that this was better for breakfast.

Teanna said...

Congrats on the upcoming arrival! So sorry you weren't so crazy about this one! I hope next week is better for you! It still looks so good!

Jennifer said...

34 weeks? Wow, and you are still baking, that's great. When I was 34 weeks I would definitely have been consuming baked goods, but maybe not baking them myself!

Lady Baker said...

oh believe me Jennifer--the 'baking' is basically so that I can do just that: eat it afterwards!!! Can't wait for next week's apple tartlet!! ;)

Cathy said...

You look incredible!! I can't even believe you are 34 weeks. Tell that baby that s/he better come in time for me to see him/her when E and I are up in July! I'll come bearing cinnamon squares! Or some other Dorie recipe that you like even more. Seriously, I know exactly what you mean. I feel like Dorie has set the bar so high! I also think that the chocolate/cinnamon combo is just never going to me my favorite. Try these with the streusel - I think you'll love!

pinkstripes said...

Your squares look perfect! I'm glad you ended up liking them. I did not know you and Cathy were college roommates. It must have been a blast!

Clivia said...

Your squares look delicious. Save this recipe for an afterschool snack! I won't be long.

jillbert said...

Your frosting looks so pretty! It would be hard to rate Dorie's recipes - sometimes it just depends what kind of dessert you're looking for.

Emily Rose said...

I was pleasantly surprised with the chocolate/cinnamon combo- I thought I was going to think it was way over the top but I ended up loving it! I'm almost 34 weeks along now too- this is my second baby and with both pregnancies I have been a cinnamon fanatic (one of the only flavors that appealed to me in 1st trimester!)

Tracey said...

Thanks for baking with me this week! Your squares look terrific. I think I had the same feeling about the squares as you - good but not my absolute favorite. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

lasinthekitchen said...

Your Cinnamon Square cake looks fabulous, especially the ribbon swirl and the shiny, glossy frosting!

Very cute picture of you and your sisters!

TeaLady said...

ACTION!!!! It's like making a movie...

I like the smile.