Chocoholics Anonymous

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A few weeks ago I found myself in desperate need of chocolate. The small business I work for was in the middle of a huge move, our brains and bodies were depleted.

Normally I wouldn’t identify myself as a ‘chocoholic’, but in this case my appetite had a distinctly cocoa-flavored note to it. It made me wonder, is there a scientific link between stress and chocolate cravings? After a little Google searching, it appears as if the answer is yes – chowing on chocolate releases a ‘bliss molecule’ called anandamide. And boy did I need a dose. 

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I found the source of my confectionary high on Deb Perelman’s fantastic Smitten Kitchen blog. A rich coffee cake perfumed with cinnamon and studded with chocolate chips. I didn’t have any sour cream on hand, so I substituted whole milk yogurt. I also swapped in brown sugar for the cinnamon topping, and that was a stroke of genius if I do say so myself. The cake is gorgeously rich, with the pillowy appearance of an overstuffed armchair. Eat it warm or cold, several times a day as needed.

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Yogurt Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen

Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs, separated

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups whole milk yogurt

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon table salt

Filling and Topping

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. While the oven heats, grease a 9-x-13-inch baking pan. If you’re worried about it sticking, cover the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper.

Cream butter with 1 1/2 cups of sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat in egg yolks (keep whites reserved) and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into a separate smaller bowl. Alternately add in yogurt and dry ingredients into butter mixture, mixing after each addition. The batter should be thoroughly mixed and very thick. In a separate bowl, whip eggs whites until stiff, then gently fold into batter. This can be a bit tricky, but don’t give up!

In a small bowl, use a fork to mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon for filling and topping.

Use a spatula to spread half the batter in the bottom of greased pan. Then, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the batter, distributing evenly. Spoon the remaining batter into the pan and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips and cinnamon sugar onto the batter. Using gentle pressure and the palm of your hand, gently press the chocolate chips into the batter. Just enough that they stick and will not all roll to the center as the cake billows and bakes.

Bake on the center rack for approximately 50 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. The cake is done when a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

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