Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer Cake by Chelsea Zwieg

Happy 2017! I cannot think of a better way to start a new year than with a new cake. Sorry 'bout it juice cleaners, but you don't really need me to tell you how to make a green juice do you? I sure hope not, because I would be the worst person you could ask. But I can tell you all about cookie dough and so that's just what I am going to do. 

But before I tell you about how amazing this cake tastes, I have to tell you a little story about this particular cake. *cue funeral march* As I mentioned before, my raging New Year's Eve plans were to go over to my best friends house, third wheel it with her and her fiance and eat lots of sushi and champagne right on into 2017. And that's exactly what we did and it was so great. But since it's not a party without a cake (or two), I decided to make this chocolate chip cookie dough cake to keep the champagne cake company. I made it, decorated it, photographed it, did a little happy dance about how good it was and literally the second I was done with all of that, I bumped the table with my knee and my poor poor cake did a backflip off the other side facedown onto the floor. Bye, cake. Here's a picture if you are having a hard time picturing just how devastating the destruction was. To make the situation even more ridiculous, I had been up since 3am for work that morning and was already a little loopy, so my reaction was pretty much just standing in my kitchen laughing hysterically all by myself. Like a crazy person.

Eventually I cleaned it up, gave it a proper trash can burial and moved on. Needless to say, I have no other witnesses to tell you how great this cake was in it's short, short lifetime. But if you can at all believe me, the girl who knocks cakes off the table (and also almost fell off of a non-moving treadmill at the gym this morning. I don't want to talk about it), then let me tell you: this cake was GOOD. 

I used my very favorite chocolate cake recipe, a fluffy cookie dough frosting and creamy vanilla buttercream. I have been wanting to make cookie dough frosting for months and I cannot believe I waited this long to make it. It's a very soft, spreadable, eggless cookie dough that is full of chocolate chips and the perfect thing to be sitting between layers of fudgy chocolate cake. As much as I love cookie dough (A LOT) it seemed like a bit much to have an entire cake covered in cookie dough frosting and I was worried it would like a pile of dough rather than a pretty cake (I prefer to make my cakes look pretty before I send them crashing to the ground, thank you very much) so I opted for a super vanilla-y swiss meringue buttercream for the outside. The buttercream is beautifully white and super creamy which makes for the best cookies-and-milk combo when it's with the cookie dough frosting. This is definitely of my favorite cakes that I've made in a long time, so I hope you'll give it a try! 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer Cake

Chocolate cake adapted from Magnolia Bakery, Buttercream adapted from Layered

For the cake: 

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee

For the cookie dough frosting: 

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream (or a little more) 
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the vanilla buttercream: 

  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

| Instructions | 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 4 (see note) 6" cake pans. 

Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of stand mixer and run on low to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla to combine. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Scrape the bowl and the paddle well and add the hot coffee. Mix on low, scraping as needed, until smooth.

Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake 20-25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

For the cookie dough frosting, beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. It will be very crumbly. Add the milk, a little bit at a time, until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. Depending on the temperature of your butter/kitchen/mixing bowl etc. you might need a little more or less than 1/4 cup. Aim for the consistency of soft buttercream. Mix in the chocolate chips. 

For the vanilla buttercream, combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Make sure the bowl is completely clean and dry before adding the egg whites. Whisk to combine. Place the mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook, whisking often, until the mixture reaches 155 degrees on a candy thermometer. Carefully return the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed 8-10 minutes, until the whites hold medium-stiff glossy peaks and are cooled to room temperature.

Swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment. With the mixer running on low, add the butter a couple tablespoon at a time allowing it to incorporate after each addition. The butter needs to be at room temperature to incorporate properly. Once the butter is fully mixed in, add the vanilla and increase the mixer speed to medium. Beat until the frosting is silky smooth and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. 

To assemble the cake, level each layer as needed with a serrated knife. Fill and stack the layers with the cookie dough frosting. Frost the outside with the vanilla buttercream and decorate as desired. If you have leftover cookie dough frosting, add a thin layer to the top on top of the vanilla buttercream. I added chocolate chips to the outside, peak side in, for the polka dots. 

Chocolate Champagne Layer Cake by Chelsea Zwieg

My very last post of 2016! Can you even believe it? I know that everyone is obligated to say "wow this year has gone so fast. I can't believe it's *insert shocking year here* already" every single time New Year's rolls around, but for real I can't believe that this year is over. I feel like when I was in school and the end of the year meant final, papers and all other things stress-dream related I had no problem believing it was time for a new year. What, it's 2013?....well it's ABOUT TIME. But being a real world adult means there are no semesters or breaks to measure time by which apparently just makes time go by really really fast. But as far as this super sneaky disappearing year goes, I am pretty darn happy with it. 

Spoiler alert: New Year's makes me all reflective/emotional/thankful and I can't even help it. So either skip to the end of this post to get yourself some boozy cake or buckle up because it's about to get real sappy up in here. This year was my first full year living back in Wisconsin and, like I said in my last post, I am so enormously grateful to be living near the people that I love. I am so thankful for the gigantic amounts of love, laughter and just plain ridiculous goofiness that I am surrounded by. On top of that, this was also my first full year working at the bakery and don't even get me started on how much happiness that place brings me. I can't think of anything better than waking up every morning and decorating cupcakes and baking cookies for 8 hours and that is exactly what I get to do all day every day. I don't think it will ever get old. And then of course, there's the blog. And all of you guys. People who don't even know me (or do know me! hi!) that take the time to read about all of my weird kitchen experiments and listen to me rant about foods I hate or ramble endlessly about foods I love. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK. YOU. Ok, I'm done now. Feelings time over....let's talk about cake. 

If there ever was a time to put champagne in everything it's New Year's Eve, am i right? A few weeks ago when I was in Chicago we stopped at this chocolate shop and had the most ridiculously amazing chocolate champagne truffles. After standing right outside of the store eating them we went back in for round two (thank goodness!) and they have been on my mind ever since. At first I was thinking about just making champagne truffles but it really isn't a party without some cake. So the truffles became a cake and boy am I ever glad they did. I took my favorite chocolate cake recipe and subbed part of the water for champagne which gives it a subtle champagne flavor that I love. Enough to taste but no too much to take away from the chocolate. The filling is a vanilla champagne buttercream and the outside is a super silky chocolate buttercream (which you could also add champagne to, if you're feeling extra boozy). I can't think of anything more festive to eat while waving goodbye to 2016. 

I hope you all have a fantastic New Year's Eve/Day! I will be eating tons of fantastic food, playing games and watching movies with my best friend and her fiancé (third wheelin' like it's my job) and, of course, we will be eating this cake. Have a great weekend! See you next week :) 

 

Chocolate Champagne Cake 

Note: I thought this cake had plenty of champagne flavor as is. However, if you want a little extra kick, brush each leveled layer with 1-2 tablepsoons of champagne and let it soak into the layers before assembling the cake. This will also keep the cake extra moist. 

Makes a 3 layer 6" cake

| Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla 
  • 1/2 cup champagne
  • 1/4 cup hot water

For the frosting: 

  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. champagne
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate

| Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour 3 6" cake pans. 

Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer. Let the mixer run on low to combine the ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Scrape the bowl and paddle and add the champagne and hot water. Mix on low, scraping as needed, until combined and smooth. 

Divide the batter evenly among the three cake pans. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, place egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make sure the bowl is completely clean and dry before adding the egg whites. Whisk the eggs and sugar to combine and place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Cook the mixture, whisking often, until it reaches 155 F on a candy thermometer. Return the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed for 8-10 minutes. The whites should hold medium-stiff, glossy peaks and be cooled to room temperature.  Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 20 second intervals, stirring well between each. Let cool.

Swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment. With the mixer running on low, add the the butter a few tablespoons at a time letting it incorporate after each addition. The butter needs to be room temperature to incorporate properly. Once the butter is mixed in, and the vanilla and increase the speed to medium. Continue to mix until the frosting is smooth, fluffy and free of air bubbles, about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the frosting to a separate bowl, leaving a generous 1/2 cup behind in the mixer. Add the powdered sugar and champagne to the frosting left in the mixer and beat until smooth. This will be the filling between the layers. Add the melted chocolate to the frosting that you removed from the mixer and gently fold it in until combined. 

To assemble the cake, level the layers using a serrated knife. Fill and stack the layers with the white champagne buttercream (about 1/4 cup between each layer). Frost the outside as desired with the chocolate buttercream.