Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lunch, A Sweet Two-fer and A Review

I met fellow blogger Jennifer from Confections of a Bake-a-holic yesterday! I visited her blog, exchanged a few emails and realized that we lived in neighboring cities, so we met up. We had lunch at Macaroni Grill and exchanged sweet treats.

One problem. She gave me a gift all wrapped up so nicely and some fabulous cookie bars packaged up in a cute striped box. No, that's not the problem. The problem was on my end. I had a paper plate (at least it was Chinet!) with a few cinnamon squares covered in press-n-seal. it was a sad looking package. And it was for a fellow foodie- what was I thinking?! I am so embarrassed.

Anyway, back to our lunch. We had a great time chatting and eating. I made her Cinnamon Squares that were featured by the Tuesdays With Dorie members earlier in the summer. They were delicious and cinnamony, with just the right amount of chocolate. I used Red Ape Cinnamon that was sent to me by the great people at Kestrel Growth Brands. They are also a part of the Singing Dog Vanilla (I'm dying to try their vanilla bean paste!) and Pohnpei Pepper Company.

This was the perfect recipe to use their Red Ape Cinnamon in because I love the combination of cinnamon and chocolate. Their cinnamon is a lighter brighter reddish brown color compared to most other darker cinnamons. The reason for this is because "only the pure inner cinnamon bark is ground and the extra outer bark that would normally dilute the final powder is disposed of" creating a higher quality product.

Also to highlight the chocolate and cinnamon combination, I used a bar of Abuelita Chocolate and grated it to create the ripple down the center of the bars. If you're not familiar with Abuelita chocolate, it's ground chocolate, cinnamon and sugar pressed into a disc or a bar. You melt it into milk to make Mexican hot chocolate. Yummy!

Cinnamon Squares from Dorie Greenspan


  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Abuelita chocolate)


  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake: Stir 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon and the espresso together in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, the baking powder, salt and the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture and gently whisk until you have a homogeneous batter. Now, using the whisk or a rubber spatula, fold in the butter with a light touch, just until the butter is absorbed. You'll have a smooth, shiny batter.

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

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan; a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the 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 the mixture so much that it thins out; the chocolate should be smooth, very shiny, thick and spreadable. (If it thins, leave the frosting at room temperature for a bit, until it thickens a little.)

Using an offset metal icing spatula or a table knife, spread the frosting in generous sweeps and swirls over the top of the cake. Allow the frosting to set at room temperature, then cut the cake into squares.

Cappuccino Squares: If you like the cappuccino flavor combination of coffee and cinnamon, you can easily switch the balance in this recipe by adding a jolt of coffee flavor to the batter. Just mix 1 tablespoon instant espresso into the milk and warm the milk in a microwave oven until it is hot enough to dissolve the coffee. Cool the milk and carry on.

Storing:Wrapped in plastic, the cake will keep at room temperature for 2 days. It can be frozen for up to 2 months, but it's best to put the cake in the freezer unwrapped and then, when the frosting is firm, to wrap it airtight; defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

NOTE:My cake took about an hour to cook through. When a toothpick inserted in the center My cake took about an hour to cook through. When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, it's done.


Jennifer made some seriously good cookie bars called Motherload Bars that she saw on Picky Palate. They consist of 4 different cookies baked together in one bar then topped off with a drizzle of melted chocolate. Sugar cookie dough, chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter cookie dough, and chocolate chip cookie dough. Incredibly sinful and utterly delicious.

Motherload Cookie Bars from Jennifer via PP

Layer 1: Sugar Cookie

  • 1 Roll of Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Press sugar cookie dough into bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish that’s been lined foil and sprayed with cooking spray.

    Layer 2: Double Chocolate Chip Cookie

    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 6 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
    • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. flour
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/8 tsp. salt
    • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

    In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Slowly add egg and vanilla until well combined.

    In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to wet ingredients then stir in chips. Layer over sugar cookie layer, pressing gently.

    Layer 3: Peanut Butter Cookie

    • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 egg

    Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined. Press over chocolate cookie dough.

    Layer 4: Chocolate Chip Cookie

    • 1 stick softened butter
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp.granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 Tbsp. pure vanilla
    • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 bag chocolate chips plus more for drizzling

    Make sure oven is preheated to 350 degrees F. In a stand or electric mixer cream the butter and sugars until well combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Place flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl; mix to combine. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips. Spoon the dough evenly over peanut butter cookie dough but don’t press, just leave uneven. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until center of dough is cooked mostly through. Edges will be brown. I covered pan with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking.

    Let cookies cool completely. Lift out of pan with edges of foil. Drizzle top with 1/2 Cup melted chocolate chips if desired. (optional)

    NOTE: You can layer dough and refrigerate until ready to bake.

    Thank you Jennifer!


    Rainy Day Farm said...

    Oh, Heavens to Betsy! I think I just put on 5lbs. reading that post! I was tempted to lick the screen! I am sure I clicked on Heaven's blog itself! I sure hope there is food like this in Heaven, or I may have to consider not going!:) Have a great day!

    Donna-FFW said...

    I have made those cinnamon squares before a couple of times, they are lovely, yours of course looks prettier than mine did..

    Lucky you meeting a blogger, please remember if you are ever in NJ we must meet. MUST!

    Those layered cookies look sinfully indulgently delicious!

    girlichef said...

    Wow, those both look amazing!!!!!!!! I love your new header :D

    thereddeer said...

    How lovely - I wonder if there are any foodie bloggers in my little city here?

    oneordinaryday said...

    You got a perfect swirl in those cinnamon squares. I can never manage to get my swirls quite so pretty.

    I'm sure your friend appreciated your kind gesture, even if you didn't feel it was enough. We're always much harder on ourselves than anyone else would be!

    And, holy heck, do those cookie bars look amazing!

    Heidi said...

    How fun that you got to meet up with another great food blogger and exchange goodies!!! Both your treats look amazing.

    Rachel (rachescakes) said...

    The list of things you post that I want to try is getting out of hand! These both look yummy!

    Smitten Sugar said...

    How fun!! Your cake looks delicious and so do her cookie bars! I am sure your beautiful presentation made up for the paper plate.

    But really chocolate and cinnamon is definitely always a winner!

    Dawn said...

    LOL motherload! cute name.
    as I was reading this, those taco burgers were on the side, and I couldn't take my eyes off of them, so I have nothing to say now. LOL!!!!! ADD is bad w/ food porn

    Anonymous said...

    I had to laugh when I read how you presented your baked goods...perfectly fine in my opinion. :) Too funny, love reading your blog!

    Ingrid said...

    LOL, you know I'm not letting this go right?! Finally I got something on you! :))

    Your photos? Terrific!

    Btw, thanks for the info on Abuelita chocolate. I had no clue!

    Amber said...

    OMG! Those pics and desserts look amazing!!!!!! I'm glad I am not home right now or I'd be making those and putting another roll in my mid section. How fun to meet up with another blogger for lunch to exchange foods..what a cute idea!

    Jennifer said...

    Your so silly!!! I don't care what you brought them on Im just glad you brought them because they were GREAT!!! I love cinnamon and will be making this for Mom.

    Thanks for the sweet treat! Look forward to baking with you!!

    Thanks! Jen

    Lissaloo said...

    Wow, those both look sooooooo good!

    Kim said...

    I bet the two of you had a great time. Both bars look fantastic. I could snarf down several of each :D

    my3sons said...

    Oh Monica!
    What are you trying to do to me??? I have PMS so bad I could eat both of these myself.right.now. I'm not talking just one square. The whole pan! Both of them.
    Ok, I'm really ok....

    Anonymous said...

    Monica, I discovered your blog last night... and I absolutely LOVE it! In fact, I sent my sister the link to your blog in email... and in the "subject" line I simply wrote... "best food blog EVER!"

    I just have one simple request that would make visiting your blog even more pleasurable. (If that is even possible!) Do you think you could possibly add a "blog archive" list to your layout? Maybe tuck it in at the bottom of your blog? It would just make everything SO much easier if I/we could check out the title of your posts and be directed to exactly the posts that we most wanted to view at any particular time.

    Just a suggestion... and no matter what... I'll be back and will continue to drool at your scrumptious baked goods! :)

    Bunny said...

    Oh my word I'm in sugar heaven here!!!! Both these treats a re fantaastic. Mother Lode Cookie Bars...I LOVE IT!!

    Julie said...

    I have seen that Abuelita lady on the front of hot chocolate, I'll have to look for those chocolate bars too! For baking of course, not eating right out of the package. The cinnamon squares look amazing!

    Laura said...

    Oh good lord who do I have to beg to get s ome vanilla paste? Sounds so good!I should not read this at night-NOT_

    Katie said...

    Ohhh drooling they both look so georgously yummy. Love the flavours of chocolate and cinnamon together. The red ape cinnamon sounds good. The cookie bars look so indulgant!

    cookies and cups said...

    hahah! that's totally something I would do!!! Also, I have been wanting to make those bars since I saw them...they look (and I'm sure taste) incredible!

    Tatiyana said...

    So I was wondering tonight what to make for dessert and I'm pretty sure those motherload cookie bars are gonna win out! WOW!!!!!!!! I'll let you know how they turn out...I'm drooling already!

    Mimi said...

    I considering moving to Texas so we can share baked goods. Both treats looked fantastic. I have to agree with anonymous, your blog is awesome.

    Anna said...

    Those cinnamon squares look DEE-VINE. 'Tis the time of year for all spicy lovely baked goods. Am tempted....

    Chef'n said...

    Hello Monica! We stumbled upon your blog when you gave away our PepperBalls as a prize for your 200th post and now we're hooked! Your photos are fabulous, your recipes are to die for, and your writing is relatable and of high-quality.

    We tested our your caramel corn recipe the other day and it was delish (except that one of us managed to get caramel in her hair, which was actually quite funny)!

    We're hosting a huge, 12-week long giveaway on our blog right now, and wanted to invite you and your readers to enter to win some great Chef'n products. To learn more, check out our blog www.chefnblog.com and look for the post titled Twelve Weeks of Giveaway.

    Keep up the good work!

    The Chef'n Team

    Kerstin said...

    What yummy cinnamon squares! Cinnamon and chocolate are just so good together!

    I love meeting food bloggers, there's always just so much to chat about :) Glad you guys had a great time!

    Sophie said...

    I've been missing out on your blog so much! The cookie bars look like they should be illegal! Monica, I wish you lived next door :D, I'd be a lucky neighbor :)!

    R Max said...

    OH MY! I gained 20 pounds just looking at these delectables!

    adv2403 said...

    Made this for a birthday cake!! amazing! Everyone loved it. Thanks so much :)

    rosemarykitchen said...

    Ah... there is no way these could be bad. Wow.

    Mermaid Sweets said...

    wow, I have to make these for the fundraiser event and cut into small squares. Love them.

    ButterYum said...

    Yum! I love chocolate and cinnamon together!


    Marilee said...

    Thanks for the details of the cinnamon and chocolate. Now I want to know what kind and where to buy expresso powder. I'm clueless.

    boysmum2 said...

    we don't have the sugar cookie dough here in NZ, can you give me an idea as to what is in it and how it turns out so I can find or make a substitute?

    Monica H said...

    Boysmum2- you can make your own sugar cookie dough. Here's a basic recipe to use, though you may not need all of the dough to make these bars. I would start with half a batch of cookie dough pressed into the bottom of your pan.



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