Home cook and writer Amy Lynch said chocolate and cinnamon make this throwback dessert hard to resist.
She chuckles about it now, but Indiana cook Amy Lynch said her first attempt at chocolate chip cookies didn’t turn out well.
“I interpreted the 2¼ cup flour measurement as two quarter-cup scoops of flour. We ultimately had to throw that cookie sheet away. Live and learn,” she said.
Amy, who said she’s loved cooking and baking since she was a young girl, points to a long list of successes and failures. Those of us who can relate, raise your hand. And like many of us, Amy learned to cook by watching her mother, Janet Mallett. Janet passed away in 2002.
“I had a solid example to follow. My mom was a great home cook and organized a ton of church banquets,” she said. “My mom was very much a traditional Hoosier home cook. Growing up, most of our family dinners consisted of a usually fried meat with mashed potatoes or rice, buttered white bread slices, and maybe some corn or an iceberg lettuce salad.”
The Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake recipe was something Amy’s mother often made for the family. (You'll find the recipe card at the bottom of the page.)
“My mom snagged this recipe for Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake from a 1970s Cincinnati talk show and it’s been a family classic ever since,” she said.
Another favorite family recipe comes from Amy’s younger brother, Jeff.
“My younger brother learned to make a chicken rice pilaf in his junior high home economics class, back when such curriculum was still being taught in schools. He came home and prepared it for our family, and it’s still a recipe I use fairly often decades later. It’s so easy to make, and it’s probably the most comforting dish I know how to make,” she said.
Amy said comfort food is “the kind of food you want to eat while curled up under a blanket on a cold, rainy day when you’re not feeling 100 percent.” Creamy pasta. Rich stews. Crusty bread. Tender muffins.
And Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake.
Amy has a strong memory of this coffee cake from her junior high years.
“I made it for a seventh grade cooking class demonstration, and popular girls who wouldn't even sniff at a geek like me under normal circumstances were suddenly cozying up and angling for the first piece as the irresistible aroma of chocolate and cinnamon wafted around the room,” she said.
These days, Amy is a busy single mom who lives in Indianapolis with her 13-year-old son, Michael. She works as a freelance writer who specializes in Midwestern food and travel. Recent trips have been to Detroit, Michigan; Fort Wayne, Indiana; plus Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. Those interested can keep up with Amy's travels via her Instagram page.
When asked what challenges she faces as a home cook, Amy said getting dinner to the table quickly and working with her son’s “rather limited culinary palate.”
“I had visions of raising my son to appreciate all sorts of gourmet delicacies and wowing my food-savvy friends,” said Amy, who confessed that she was a picky eater as a child. “He’s 13 now, and I’m thrilled that his tastes seem to be evolving and expanding in new directions. And he’s always been willing to at least taste new things, even if he decides he doesn’t like them.”
Her work requires that she keep tabs on the Indianapolis restaurant scene; she has a handful of preferred go-to restaurants. But Amy said she cooks dinner most evenings.
“I guess I’m European at heart. I like to cook small meals daily based on what’s fresh and what sounds good to me at the time. I don’t make many large-batch recipes unless I’m having guests over or planning on leftovers, she said.
She offered a couple of tips to novice cooks.
“Add dried spices at the beginning of a recipe and fresh herbs at the end, otherwise they’ll lose their flavor. Read the entire recipe before you get started, and clean up as you go,” she said.
To make Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, you’ll need:
1⅓ cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 ounces chocolate chips
1 stick of softened butter
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
Amy said Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake is good for breakfast, as a dessert or as a snack.
“My 85-year-old dad still whips one of these up on occasion. I think it tastes best warm from the oven with an icy cold glass of milk,” she said.
I can almost smell the chocolate and cinnamon coming from the kitchen now.