Cappuccino Cinnamon Squares

I made these luscious, caffeine-laden squares for my sister to celebrate her first day at a new job. Last year, the company she was working for was bought and many of the employees laid off, including her. Needless to say, the job market isn’t booming right now, so her having found a position that’s a great fit for her is of course cause to celebrate. Coincidentally, on the day she found out she was laid off last year I made this to-die-for Sour Cream Coffee Cake. It was truly magical. So I guess I use food to console and to celebrate. There’s never a bad reason to turn on the oven for this baking girl!

I wanted to make something I knew my sister would love, something I hadn’t made before, and also something that I could whip up with ingredients I already had in the house. I wasn’t really feeling a trip to the grocery store. I flipped through some cookbooks and found this. It looked like something you would find in Starbucks and this adapted version includes a healthy dose of espresso stirred into the milk. My sister adores coffee, so this turned into a no-brainer.

This simple cake is another one-bowl (okay, maybe you’ll use two bowls) wonder. This is another factor that makes the recipe so appealing – minimal ingredients, minimal equipment and minimal time combine to make a sensational recipe that is simple to create. And that wonderful brownish-caramel hue to the cake? You can thank the espresso for that. It’s like a little sip of coffee in each magnificent bite.

One year ago: Super Bowl Sugar Cookies
Two years ago: Black and White Chocolate Cake

Cappuccino Cinnamon Squares

Yield: 9 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 to 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


For the Cake:
1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
¾ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or ½ cup mini chocolate chips

For the Frosting:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces


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

2. Stir 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 2½ teaspoons of the cinnamon and 1½ teaspoons of the espresso powder together in a small bowl.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining 1¼ cups sugar, the baking powder, salt and the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Mix the remaining 1 tablespoon of the espresso powder into the milk and warm the milk in a microwave until it is hot enough to dissolve the coffee. Cool the milk. 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, satiny batter.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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 things out; the chocolate should be smooth, very shiny, thick and spreadable. 9If it thins, leave the frosting at room temperature for a bit, until it thickens a little.)

7. 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 9 squares, each about 2½ inches on a side. Wrapped in plastic, the cake will keep at room temperature for 2 days.


38 Responses to “Cappuccino Cinnamon Squares”

  1. t on February 4, 2010 at 1:10 am

    looks good!!! i love your site.


  2. Jason Sandeman on February 4, 2010 at 7:50 am

    I simply love these bars. Great job. Now, can I have like, 5 so I can wake up with my latte?


  3. Meghan on February 4, 2010 at 9:03 am

    I love the look of these; the divided cake and the scalloped top – just beautiful!


  4. Emily Ziegler on February 4, 2010 at 9:12 am

    You have one lucky family! Let me tell youuu! These are rockin’. Send some my way, why dontcha?


  5. katie on February 4, 2010 at 10:28 am

    This has been on my “to bake” list for quite some time now. Your squares look fantastic!


  6. Jeanne on February 4, 2010 at 11:08 am

    These would be the perfect companion for my morning tea, but I’ll have to settle for your mouthwatering photo. Yum!


  7. Megan on February 4, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I have a feeling I’ll be making these tonight! Scanned the ingredients and I have all of them. We’re having a breakfast party baby shower for a woman I work with tomorrow, and I’m making quiche for it… but some cappuccino cinnamon squares might be necessary too!


  8. Pink Panda on February 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Wow. Those look superb. Cappucinino and Cinnamon is the perfect mix!


  9. Lauren Norris on February 4, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    These are as good as they look! Thanks to my lovely sister for baking them for me 🙂 I was put into a slight sugar coma but it was WORTH every minute!!


  10. Megan on February 4, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    The frosting is setting right now! I cannot wait to try this!


    • sam on August 30th, 2011 at 3:31 am

      Someone tell me how they turned out. More reviews pleease


  11. Janice on February 5, 2010 at 4:04 am

    You make the most mouth watering treats, and congrats to your sister for finding a new job


  12. Karly on February 5, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Ooh, those look and sound delicious!


  13. Sarah, Maison Cupcake on February 6, 2010 at 10:27 am

    I’m not generally a coffee fan but the prospect of tempering it with cinnamon would make me try these and I really like the pattern the line has made through the cake, it looks really pretty.

    There is a Sunshine Award for you on my blog this weekend as you bring sunshine to my blog reading and are one of my favourite baking sites.


  14. Kerstin on February 7, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Wow, this looks SO addicting! Wish I was waking up with a slice tomorrow!


  15. Sweets at Vicky's on February 7, 2010 at 2:30 am

    I love cake in any form, even when they’re parading around in square bar disguises! 🙂


  16. bridget {bake at 350} on February 7, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Just the NAME of these has me drooling! 😉


  17. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on February 7, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    These look amazing! You had me at cappuccino.


  18. Mackenzie @ The Caramel Cookie on February 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    That looks soooo good!


  19. Julia on February 9, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I have been super into blondies and bars lately. And these, well these just look insane! It reminds me of the cinnamon dolce syrup from Starbucks.


  20. Cherine on February 10, 2010 at 3:59 am

    Yummy!! This looks scrumptious


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  23. Jen on April 27, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    What a fantastic creamy coffee flavor, the cinamon blends in perfectly with the chocolate. The adults and kids devoured them! Thanks!


  24. Laura on June 25, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    I made it- my family did not care for it, nor did I. It was pretty dry, don’t know if I overbaked or not.


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  26. Amanda on October 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    These look like a divine addition to my plans for a Sunday dinner with Cooks Illustrated Baked Ziti. Question: Do you think I could substitute regular espresso powder for the instant espresso kind? I have espresso powder from making your Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso frosting – my FAVORITE recipe of yours!


    • Michelle on October 12th, 2011 at 8:14 pm

      Hi Amanda, Yes you could definitely do that. If it worked fine in the cupcakes, you’ll be good to go. Enjoy!


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  30. Jay on January 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Such a delish recipe, thanks for sharing!


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  36. Pamela Winter on May 8, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    This cake is (no exaggeration) phenomenal! I’m the kind of person who doubles the amount of cinnamon in every recipe, just because there’s never really enough to taste it. When I saw this recipe I nearly jumped for joy and only increased the cinnamon by 1/2 teaspoon. When finished, I didn’t have enough chocolate for the chips in the frosting so I used butter brickle chips.

    When I tasted it, I was instantly transported to a small coffee haus in Vienna, where I dreamt of staring ar a painting by Van Gogh (or was it Monet?). In any case, this cake is the closest thing to heaven, cappuccino and cinnamon that I have found.


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