Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake

"Cake," I told a friend over the phone, "is really only good if it's off-season. You know, when you randomly decide to make a cake and it's just amazing?"
I've never been a fan of birthday cake. Cake should be clandestine. Cake should be unexpected. Cake should be that friend who shows up at 11 PM and kidnaps you for a spur of the moment sleepover. I don't know what it is, but if you announce cake it's's just meh. But when you decide that THIS will be a weekend for making cake and that the cake you're making will be inspired by your favorite ice cream flavor which is inspired by another dessert, you're on the right track. I took the precaution of vetting my idea past by five year old student who wants to be a pastry chef:
"So I have this idea for a cake."
"Yeah. It's going to be a vanilla cake with mini chocolate chips."
"And have vanilla buttercream between the layers. And chunks of chocolate chip cookie dough."
"And I'll cover the top with chocolate ganache. Sound good?"

As you can see, we really talked it out. But I came home and I trotted the plan through all its paces and nothing failed except the fact that you can't put hot chocolate ganache on top of buttercream frosting and expect it to stay put. Mine slid all over creation like some hot fudge lava stream and it was inglorious but delicious. Thus it's very important to let your chocolate ganache cool before spooning it overtop of your cake layers. I want to prevent Vesuvius from happening to your cake project. Trust me on this.

One of the best parts of this recipe is the fact that all the steps (apart from whipping the buttercream frosting) can be done in a single bowl with a wooden spoon. If you're anything like me the idea of hauling out a giant mixer and washing it afterward can easily overwhelm any baking inspiration. Good news! This recipe requires minimal cleanup and a killer final product. Moist, perfect layer cake made with browned butter and miniature chocolate chips. Fluffy vanilla buttercream so light it's almost imaginary. Chunks of silky, egg-free cookie dough tucked between layers. Suave chocolate ganache cascading over the sides. When chilled, this cake is a chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream flavor doppelganger - only you can enjoy it nice and slowly because it'll never melt! The recipe should either make four small layers or two large (9") layers. Feel free to make it either way - I prefer using a smaller pan because more layers = more cookie dough-to-cake ratio! And I don't know anybody who is against a high cookie dough ratio. My recipe for the layer cake is generously adapted from this recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction, the main difference being adding brown sugar, browning my butter, and omitting the raspberries.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer Cake
makes two 9" or four 6" layers

the cake:
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour (measured correctly)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and browned over medium-low until a caramel color
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups milk*
2 Tablespoons lemon juice*
(* if desired, substitute with buttermilk. Otherwise mix lemon juice with milk and allow to rest a few minutes until thickened)

the frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter
6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extractg
salt, to taste

the cookie dough:
5 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup + 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

the ganache:
8 ounces good dark chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

For the cake:
  1. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl combine wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix with a few quick strokes, being careful not to over-mix.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cake pans and line with parchment paper. Divide batter evenly into pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  3. Cool on wire rack for five minutes before removing from pan to finish cooling.
For the frosting:
  1. Soften butter to room temperature, then whip in mixer until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt.
  2. Whip until well combined, then cover and set aside till assembly.
For the cookie dough:
  1. Combine all ingredients by hand in a large bowl. If too soft, allow to chill in fridge until set, about 30 minutes.
  2. Pinch off chunks or roll into small balls the size of green peas. Save any remaining cookie dough for decorating the outside of the cake.
For the ganache:
  1. Cook chocolate, heavy cream, and instant coffee granules in the top of a double boiler until warm and glossy. Allow to cool until almost entirely cold before assembling cake!
  1. level all cakes by slicing across tops with long knife to make an even surface. Layer cake in this manner: cake + frosting + cookie dough + cake + frosting + cookie dough, etc. "Dirty ice" the outside and top of cake with buttercream frosting, then allow to chill in fridge 1/2 hour to set frosting.
  2. With a clean off-set spatula, ice sides of cake with remaining frosting, finishing it off as desired but leaving top thinly frosted so as to not be overwhelmed when ganache is added.
  3. Spoon cooled ganache over the top of the cake and allow to cascade as taste dictates. Decorate with remaining cookie dough, chocolate chips, or frosting as desired! Have fun.


  1. I must be a cake monster because I will always take (good) cake. . . its always in season for me. But of course if I actually did get cake that often I would hate it.

    Definitely bookmarking this.