An Unconventional Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

When you hear ‘chocolate chip cookie cake’, you probably think of the giant pizza-like slices, slathered in frosting that you used to beg your mom to buy you at the mall.

This, clearly, is not that cookie cake.

This is a four layer cake with a buttercream that could fool you into thinking it’s raw cookie dough. (I may save some of the frosting in the fridge and eat it by the spoonful.) Top it all off with a rich dark chocolate ganache, and stuff some mini-chips between the layers, and you’ll always want this when you hear ‘cookie cake.’ The recipe is a mix of a few favorites, but Martha Stewart’s Brown Sugar Layer Cake and her Brown Sugar Buttercream do the heavy lifting, with a few tweaks.

Martha Stewart’s Brown Sugar Layer Cake

Ingredients
– 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
– 2 c. dark brown sugar
– 1 c. granulated sugar
– 6 large eggs
– 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
– 3 c. cake flour
 1/4 tsp. salt
– 8 oz. sour cream
– 1/2 tsp. baking soda

Martha Stewart’s Brown Sugar Buttercream (Double Batch)

Ingredients
– 8 large egg whites
– 2 c. light brown sugar
 1/2 tsp. salt
– 3 c. (6 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
– 2 bags mini chocolate chips

Chocolate Ganache Drip

Ingredients
– 1 1/8 c. heavy cream
– 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate

Tools
– Set of measuring cups and spoons
– 1 large bowl, 1 medium bowl, 1 small bowl
– 1 mixer
– 1 spatula
– 2 9-in. round cake pans
– Parchment, Wilton Cake Release or butter & flour
– cooling racks
– 1 10-in. round cake board
– 1 small saucepan
– 1 heat-proof bowl
– 1 whisk
– 1 icing spatula
– 1 bench scraper
– 1 squeeze bottle or spoon

Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeStart with the cakes. Preheat your oven to 325, and grab your cake pans. (I use pans that are about two inches deep, and these cakes will cook all the way up to the top. If you’re using shallower pans, use three.) I prep mine by using Wilton Cake Release and pre-cut parchment rounds, but you can also use butter and flour.

In your large bowl, cream together butter and dark brown and granulated sugars. Mix in eggs, one to two and a time, then vanilla and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift your flour (Martha’s recipe doesn’t call for this, skip if you’d like), and combine with salt. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine sour cream and baking soda.

Mix your flour mixture into the butter mixture in three separate batches, alternating with with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Divide evenly across your cake pans, and put in oven. Martha’s recipe calls for 50 minutes on the timer. I typically follow that instruction, but find that I’ll need to add anywhere from 15-20 minutes once I test the cakes.

Let rest in pans for 20 minutes, then cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
While the cakes cool, begin making your buttercream. (My ingredient list makes a double batch – believe me, you’ll want the extra.) Put water in a saucepan, and place it over medium-high heat. Once it begins simmering, reduce heat to medium and place a heatproof bowl over it, then add your egg whites, light brown sugar and salt. Whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm. Transfer to another bowl and beat on medium for 10-15 minutes, then on high until stiff peaks form. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time while beating on medium high.

Now, if you’re like me, and no matter what you do, your frosting is still too runny at this point, pop it in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes, then beat it on low until it’s workable. (if it starts to separate, don’t panic, move your speed to medium and just keep mixing!)

Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBegin assembling your layers. (I like to trim my cakes down to 8 inches, then use the scraps for cake balls.) Between each, apply a layer of frosting, then sprinkle on some chocolate chips. Repeat for the first 3 layers. When you reach the last layer, apply a crumb coat, and place the frosting and cake in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Remove the frosting from the fridge, and mix in your chips until the ratio looks like cookie dough. I eyeball it, but normally use around 1-1 1/2 cups. Pull out your cake, and GENTLY begin applying the frosting with a bench scraper. (Be very careful – if you apply too much pressure, the chips will tear into the layers and leave a crumby mess.) Once you have the cake frosted, it goes back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Begin making your ganache, by heating up that water on the stove again. Wash out your heat-proof bowl, and place it in the pan once it simmers. Combine your heavy cream and chocolate, stirring constantly until melted. Remove bowl from heat and set aside. Once your ganache is barely warm to the touch, you can start decorating. (Beware – if it’s too warm, it will run down to the bottom of your cake, or melt your frosting. If it’s too cold, you’ll get short stubby drips.)

It typically takes about 20 minutes for the ganache to reach the temperature I like to work with, and even then, I sometimes pop it in the freezer for a minute or two to help it along. I use a plastic squeeze bottle to apply the drips, but you can also use a spoon. Go around the edge of the cake, letting the chocolate drip down the sides every 1/4 inch or so – don’t worry about making it perfect! Then put a good amount of ganache on the top of your cake, and spread with your icing spatula – being careful not to push it over the edge.

Top with more mini chips, and enjoy!

Time: 4 hours
Serves: 12-15 slices
*Cake batter recipe doubled, 6 in. cake pictured, also made 8 in. cake*

 

 

Baking Out Of The Box

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This cake is a unicorn, and not just because of how it looks. This cake came from a box.

Believe me – I love baking from scratch. The process of creating and perfecting recipes is a wonderful way to spend a Saturday. But when I’m short on time, patience or ingredients, I cheat and grab a box or two of cake mix. Repeat after me: Box mix isn’t bad. It can save you valuable time for decorating, and with a few hacks, people will never know you didn’t painstakingly measure out all of your dry goods. (The tubs of frosting are another story. Just say no.)

Basic Boxed Cake

Ingredients
– 2 boxes French Vanilla or white cake mix
– 6 eggs
– 2 1/4 c. sparkling wine (Bonus: There’s just enough left over for a glass while baking! If you want to make this more kid-friendly, just use the ingredients on the boxes.)
  Optional: flavoring, food coloring

Tools
– Set of measuring cups
– 1 large bowl, several smaller bowls if using food coloring
– 1 mixer
– 1 spatula
– 3 9-in. round cake pans
– 3 cooling racks
– 1 10-in. round cake board
– 1 icing spatula
– 1 bench scraper
Parchment, Wilton Cake Release or butter & flour

img_0463First things first: preheat your oven using the instructions on the box, then pop the cork to measure out your sparkling wine into your large bowl and pour yourself a glass. (The wine creates a sweeter, more airy cake.) Then dump your two box mixes in, and add the eggs. With your mixer, beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

The next steps are optional, so feel free to skip: Add a few drops of flavor if preferred. For this cake, I used a Wilton strawberry flavor. I also wanted to create a little magic inside my unicorn cake, and food coloring was the best way to pull it off. I divided the batter equally into four bowls, then dyed each a different color.

Grab your cake pans to prep them. I like to use a combination of Wilton Cake Release and pre-cut parchment rounds to keep cakes from sticking. You can also cut your own parchment rounds and butter and flour the pans. I also use Bake Even strips to help my cakes cook more level.

If you skipped the food coloring step, just divide the batter evenly between the three pans. If you did the food coloring step, use spoons or smaller measuring cups to drop dollops of batter into the pans, alternating colors to create a tie-dye effect.

Tap the pans to get rid of any air bubbles and put them into the oven, baking for the time specified on the box.

Once you can insert and cleanly remove a toothpick or cake tester, pull the cakes out of the oven and let them rest 5 minutes. Transfer to wire cooling racks for 1 hour on the counter or 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

img_0477While the cakes are cooling, whip up some of my basic buttercream.

Trim and level your cakes, if desired. I like to use a ring to trim to 8 in. rounds. I’m terrible at leveling with a knife, so I use this tool.

Place your cake board on your turntable or the counter and put a dollop of buttercream in the center.  Place your first cake on it with the flattest side down. Using your icing spatula, spread a generous amount of frosting on top of the layer, about a 1/2 cm.

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Repeat with the second layer. Place the top layer with the flattest side facing up. Now you’ll apply a thin crumb coat of frosting on the top and sides. (It’s okay if you get have some crumbs mixed in, you’re going to do another layer.) Place in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes, or until frosting feels firm.

Using your bench scraper, spread a generous amount of frosting on the top of your cake, making sure to smooth and level it. Repeat around the sides, until you’re satisfied with how your cake looks.

To recreate the unicorn look, you can get the horn, ears and eyes on Amazon. To create the mane, use food coloring, a star frosting tip and a icing bag.

Time: 1 hr., 30 min.
Serves: 12-16 slices

Bonnie’s Basic Buttercream

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If there’s only one thing you ever make from this blog, it should be this buttercream. It’s so good, I sometimes always eat it by the spoonful while I’m decorating. It’s so basic, it should be wearing Uggs and carrying a pumpkin spice latte. Once you try it, you’ll never use pre-made frosting from a plastic tub again.

 

Bonnie’s Basic Buttercream

Ingredients
– 2 lbs. (1 bag) powdered sugar
– 2 c. (4 sticks) softened butter
– 2 tsp. vanilla extract
– 2 tbs. milk (or water)
  Optional: food coloring

Tools
– Set of measuring spoons
– 1 large bowl
– 1 mixer
– 1 spatula

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Cream the butter. Gradually mix in powdered sugar on low speed, about 1 cup at a time until you’ve used the entire bag. Add vanilla extract and milk and beat until combined.

Time: Less than 10 minutes
Serves: Will cover one 3-layer, 8-inch cake. If you’re planning to decorate, make 1.5 times the recipe, or double it and freeze the leftovers.

A Sweet Reminder of Seattle: Salted Caramel Smoked Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_E0446[1]For almost 3 years, I ate and drank my way through the Pacific Northwest – one of the most incredible parts of the country for food-lovers to explore. My husband and I had our favorite spots for oysters and crab, wine and (of course) desserts. Now that we’ve moved back to Dallas, trips to Seattle include lots of indulging and a place called Hot Cakes in Ballard is always near the top of our to-do list.

While I haven’t mastered my own version of their mouthwatering molten cakes, I came up with a way to use some of the unique ingredients sold in their shop to create a delicious twist on an old standby for most home bakers: the chocolate chip cookie.

Hot Cakes Smoked Chocolate Chips and Pacific Coast Sea Salt Caramel Sauce
The stars of this unique Salted Caramel Smoked Chocolate Chip Cookie are Hot Cakes’ Smoked Chocolate Chips and their Pacific Coast Sea Salt Caramel Sauce. The caramel lends a smooth, saltiness to the batter. The chips add an intriguing layer, elevating your childhood favorite into a snack you can enjoy with whiskey instead of milk. You may be able to find their products in stores near you or you can buy online. (Pro-tip: Shipping is flat-rate, so stock up and throw a few of their molten cakes in.) If that’s not an option, you can still make these amazing cookies with normal semi-sweet chips and any salted caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Smoked Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients
– 1 c. butter (2 sticks)
– 1 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
– 1 c. granulated sugar
– 3 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
– 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
– 1/2 tsp. baking powder
– 1/2 tsp. salt
– 1 egg + egg yolk
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1/2 c. Hot Cakes Pacific Coast Sea Salt Caramel Sauce (about 1 jar)
– 2 cups Hot Cakes Smoked Chocolate Chips (about 1 2/3 jars)
  Optional: Fluer de Sel and caramel sauce for topping

Tools
– Set of measuring cups and spoons
– 1 saucepan
– 2 large bowls (1 heat-proof)
– 1 whisk
– 1 mixer
– 1 spatula
– 1 wooden spoon
– 2 sheet pans
– 2 silicone baking mats (or parchment paper)
– 2 cooling racks

Salted Caramel Smoked Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low, adding the brown sugar and granulated sugar. (I use dark brown because the extra molasses compliments the smokiness of the chips.) Remove from heat, stir constantly until combined. Transfer to heat-proof bowl, set aside

Adding Caramel

While the butter/sugar mixture cools, whisk together flourbaking soda, baking powder and salt in second bowl.

Add eggegg yolk and vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat together using mixer on medium-low about 1 minute or until combined, scrape down sides of bowl using spatula. Add caramel and beat until combined. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, giving it more time to cool and allow the sugars to dissolve.

Gradually incorporate flour mixture into wet ingredients 1/2 cup at a time at medium-low speed, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Dough should feel like normal cookie dough. Add more flour in 1/4 cup increments if it’s too gooey.

Salted Caramel Smoked Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Hand-stir in chocolate chips. Cover and chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour, or up to 48 hours. (Warning: The longer it’s in the fridge, the better it tastes… but it’s hard to resist snacking on the dough!)

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When it’s time to bake, preheat your oven to 350, use the convection option if possible. Line 2 sheet pans using silicone baking mats or parchment. Remove dough from fridge. Use a cookie scoop or hand roll 1 1/2 tbsp.-sized balls of dough. Place on sheet 2 inches apart.

Bake 10 minutes, turn pans and bake for 5 more minutes. Cookies will be cracked slightly on top. Remove from oven, sprinkle with a touch of sea salt, and let rest on sheet pans for 3-5 minutes, allowing the centers to firm up. (If you notice they’re not firm enough to transfer at this point, you can place them back into the oven for two more minutes.)

Transfer to wire cooling racks. Once cool, drizzle with additional caramel sauce if preferred.

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Time: 1 hr., 10 min.
Serves: Makes approximately 60 cookies