For Chocolate Lovers only

“Touch of Chocolate” Coffeecake

For those times when you just want a bit of chocolate (I can already hear the chorus of “when would that be”?), I present this coffeecake, which has a bottom layer flavored with vanilla and (optional) orange, a thin chocolate “ribbon”, and a streusel topping. I use a sturdy handheld electric mixer to make the batter for the bottom layer, and the topping is a snap to put together with a food processor. I call for Dutch process cocoa in this recipe, but you use such a small quantity that I’d absolutely try substituting regular (nonalkalized) unsweetened cocoa powder if Dutch process isn’t readily available.

Make sure you allow time for this to cool when it comes out of the oven! Serve it barely warm or at room temperature; if you’re feeling particularly decadent, plop a scoop of good vanilla ice cream off to one side. This will keep at room temperature for a day or two, if stored airtight. I believe it will freeze, but I’ve never had any left long enough to experiment with that.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings


    Chocolate Ribbon:
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, fluffed with a fork before measuring
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (depending on your preference)
  • 6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into thin pats

  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, fluffed with a fork before measuring
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Optional: Finely grated zest of about 1/4 small orange

  • 1 egg, graded “large”

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. milk


Grease a 7 by 11 inch pan at least 1-3/4 inches tall; set aside. Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the Chocolate Ribbon: Combine the sugar and cocoa powder in a small cup. With a spoon, stir the two together thoroughly, pressing out any cocoa lumps with the back of the spoon. Set aside.

For Streusel: In workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cover; process at high speed until well-blended. Add butter pats. Cover; process in short “bursts” of 10 to 15 seconds each until the topping begins to clump together. Set aside (if room is very warm, chill this mixture until needed).

For Batter: Into small bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In medium bowl, combine softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and optional orange zest. Beat at medium speed for a minute or two, until creamy and well-blended, scraping down bowl and beater(s) occasionally. Add egg and beat in thoroughly. At a low speed, add sifted dry ingredients in three additions and milk in two additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients and beating after each addition only until incorporated. Batter will be thick.

Turn batter into prepared pan and spread level, making sure batter is well-pushed into corners. Sprinkle chocolate ribbon mixture evenly over top of batter, keeping it slightly away from the edges of the pan. With your fingers, break up any clumps of streusel, then sprinkle it all over the top of the batter. Concentrate the streusel somewhat toward the edges of the pan, as during baking it will tend to move toward the center.

Bake in preheated oven for 19 to 24 minutes, turning back-to-front about halfway during baking time. Some browning will occur, especially at edges of coffeecake; top will likely become uneven. Coffeecake is done when toothpick inserted near center emerges with only a few moist crumbs (of batter, not of chocolate ribbon) still clinging to it; do not overbake. Remove to cooling rack. Let cool until slightly warm (or cool completely) before serving.

To store, cool completely; store airtight at room temperature for up to a day or two.

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