My sweet Ollie boy turns TWO this week! We wanted to celebrate with a small party incorporating some of his favorite things right now. In addition to being a huge fan of milk & cookies, he also loves Sesame Street and will ask for both Cookie Monster and Elmo on a regular basis. (it's so cute!) I knew that it was going to be a bit of an intense week for work, so I decided to really only focus on a cake and not worry too much about food for the party. Last year I made a bunch of food, essentially catering the party, and in a way I regretted it. I ended up being in the kitchen the whole time stressed about taco assembly! It was so much nicer to just focus on a fun cake rather than an entire menu spread. I really wanted to make a chocolate chip cookie layer cake of some sort and ended up winging it in a sense. Below you'll find all of the steps I took to make the recipe and how it turned out.
First, I had to think about the cookie. I knew that I wanted it to be thick and fairly soft. If the cookie was thin and crispy it would have been tough to pull off layers of frosting in between without it feeling like there was too much frosting. Also, I was hoping to make a cake that would be easy to cut. I fear that a thin, crispy cookie wouldn't have held up. So I took my existing chocolate chip cookie recipe and made a few changes - similar to what I would have done if I were writing a recipe for a bar cookie. The dry ingredients were standard and basic - flour, baking soda, and salt. I increased the salt a bit more than I usually would to try and obtain that sweet and salty bite. (next time I might eliminate the salt all together and just use salted butter) I know that it's the popular opinion to work only with unsalted butter so that you can better control the flavor, but I'm starting to think that I might actually like working with salted butter in baking more often. So daring, I know.
I chose to work with melted butter rather than softened butter because I wanted the cookie to be more dense, rather than "puffy." To the melted butter I added both brown and granulated sugar in addition to large eggs plus extra yolks to achieve the consistency I was after. I upped the vanilla and was happy with the decision - I think nine times out of ten, vanilla should be "upped."
I used larger chocolate chunks instead of traditional chocolate chips because I wanted them to be more visible in the larger cookie. I found them right next to the chocolate chips in the baking aisle.
I was really careful to not over-mix the dough - no mixer necessary at all. I divided the completed dough into quarters and pressed the first quarter into a greased 9-inch springform pan. If you have multiple springform pans (or 9-inch cake pans) you could do this at the same time and pop them in the oven together. I had to do this twice and it was no big deal. While the first batch of two was baking, I kept my dough in the refrigerator to keep it cool.
After one quarter of the dough was pressed into the greased pan, I took another 1/4 cup of chocolate chunks and pressed them into the top and sides of the dough. This was really only because I wanted it to look like a perfect chocolate chip cookie. Not necessary, but I'm a big believer in your food looking as good as it tastes. Plus, who's going to complain about more chocolate?!
I was really happy with how the cookies looked coming out of the springform pan. It was super easy to remove them and they were all perfectly the same size. After baking and cooling my big cookie layers, I made a classic cream cheese frosting. I used the frosting recipe from these bars and it was really nice. I'm sure you could use buttercream as well.
To prevent the layer cake from sliding around during transport, I plopped on a dollop of cream cheese frosting to secure everything.
I visually divided the frosting into 3 parts in my mixing bowl and used about 1/3 of the frosting in between each layer. I was so nervous that the weight of the cookies would make the frosting layers impossible, but it was actually alright. I did focus on adding a bit more frosting to the edges of the cookies so that the frost would be visible. I didn't want it to look perfect (because that would be impossible), so I didn't worry too much about it being super even on all sides. I love using an offset spatula any time any sort of frosting is involved. It's one of those silly tools that I think everyone should have who plans to ever decorate a cupcake or a cake. I like them so much I have a few in different sizes.
Once the cake was assembled, I found myself very nervous about how to store it. The party wasn't for another 24 hours, so I had to make a call as to whether or not to leave it on the countertop or in the refrigerator. My worry about the countertop was the cream cheese frosting loosening up and shifting my layers. My concern about placing it in the refrigerator was the cold drying out the cookies. I went with the refrigerator after a tip from an expert friend on instagram and I'm so glad I did. I loosely covered it with plastic wrap and kept it chilled. By the time we got to the park and cut the cake, it was totally soft and the layers looked awesome. I was so nervous about this! I was actually surprised at how easily a serrated knife cut through it. I think the frosting softened the layers just enough to make it a good clean slice.
I was so happy with how the cake turned out for Ollie's Milk & Cookies party! The beautiful cake stand from Shop Sweet Lulu was the perfect shade of Cookie Monster blue and finished off the presentation of the cake beautifully. I can't wait to use it again! We used Shop Sweet Lulu last year for a lot of the decorations and details for Ollie's first birthday party. They have amazing stuff! It's so well curated and I was so pleased that I was able to reuse a lot of the decorations that we had used the year before. I will most likely reuse them again for his 3rd birthday party next year!
Thanks for hanging with me on a super long post. The final recipe is listed below. Feel free to comment with any questions! I'll post the photos from the actual party later this week!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer Cake
Yield: 1 9-inch layer cake (12 generous servings)
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/2 cups), melted
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups chocolate chips or chunks
Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 4 (9-inch) cake pans or spring form pans. *note: I made this recipe in two batches using 2 pans because I didn't have 4 cake pans that were all the same size.
In an extra large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugars until fully combined. Whisk in the eggs and yolks one at a time followed by the vanilla. Using a large rubber spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients avoiding over-mixing. Once the dough has just come together, stir in the chocolate chunks until they are evenly distributed. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Press 1/4 of the dough into each prepared pan. If desired, press additional chocolate chunks on the top and sides of the dough.
Bake until the tops of the cookie layers are golden brown, about 24-28 minutes. Avoid over baking the cookies as you want the centers to still be soft. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack until each layer has reached room temperature.
Starting with one cookie layer on a cake plate, add 1/3 of the prepared cream cheese frosting to the center of the cookie, and using an offset spatula smooth it out evenly over the cookie, emphasizing the sides so that the cream cheese layer is visible when the next cookie is placed on top. Repeat this process two more times, ending with an unfrosted cookie on top.
Store completed cookie cake (covered) in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Before serving, allow cake to come to room temperature.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Two (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 cups confectioners' sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer
, combine the cream cheese
and butter and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and salt. Beat in the confectioners' sugar a little at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Use immediately, or refrigerate up to 5 days.