Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake

One of my favorite treats as a kid was a basic homemade fudge made of cream and baking chocolate, grainy with undissolved sugar. The memory seems cloying to my adult palate, but as a kid I was capable of downing a whole plateful on my own. One afternoon I decided to make up a batch for myself, but found we were out of baking chocolate. So I pulled down the box of cocoa powder, which helpfully told me that 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, along with a spoonful of oil, was just the same as a square of baking chocolate. As I simmered and simmered a gross, grainy mixture that refused to come together, I realized I'd been duped. Sometimes there just is no substitute for the real thing. This is true of confections that rely on the solidity of cocoa butter to set up (which, it just so happens, is stripped from cocoa powder), and it's equally true of this luscious, dairy-rich cake.

This cake, taken from the ever-wonderful Smitten Kitchen, is truly lovely. It's unabashedly buttery, but at the same time impossibly light, with a wee bit of tang and lots of moistness from the sour cream. Cinnamon, which is normally overdone in breakfast pastries, does a lovely job of subtly setting off the chocolate chips (and, as a bonus, you have an excuse to eat chocolate before noon). I generally pass on morning sweets, but a square of this cake made a lovely coda to a recent brunch of huevos rancheros (a course my 7-year-old nephew refers to as "breakfast dessert"). I wouldn't change a thing.

Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake

yields 1 9x13 cake

adapted, but hardly, from
Smitten Kitchen

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
16 ounces sour cream

12 ounces chocolate chips (usually one package)
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda, and set aside. Whip the egg whites into stiff peaks, and set aside as well.

Cream together the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, and beat until well-incorporated. Gently mix half the sour cream into the batter, then half the flour mixture, then repeat with the remaining halves (being careful not to over-mix). Mix in about a third of the egg whites to lighten the mixture, then gently fold in the remainder, again being careful not to over-mix.

Pour half the batter into your prepared cake pan. Sprinkle on half the chocolate chips, and half the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Gently spread the remaining batter on top, and finish with the remaining chocolate chips and cinnamon-sugar. Bake until a tester comes out clean, ~40-50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then devour.


  1. Breakfast dessert—I think your nephew is on to something! With your endorsement, I'll definitely have to make this soon. Your hamantaschen turned out amazingly well, so I've resolved to follow your lead on the recipe front. :)

  2. My nephew initially asked for "breakfast dessert" after waffles, which I maintain are something in a dessert in and of themselves (especially given his desired quantity of maple syrup). But this is one of those amazing desserts that tastes so light, despite being made of butter and sour cream. Miam.

  3. I'd never heard of that faux-baking chocolate tip, and I must admit, it sounds a little scary. This dessert, however, looks mighty fine.

  4. HOLY YUM!!! this looks awesome <3

  5. This looks amazing! I love the cinnamon sugar/chocolate combo.