Let’s talk about cake! I make a lot of sweets, however, the cake seems to end up on the bottom of my list. However, when it comes to birthdays, there’s really no dessert like birthday cake! I’m not just talking about any old birthday cake, I’m talking about a dreamy, creamy Cookie cake! Four layers of pure, chocolate-ly bliss topped with a divine buttercream icing made out of crushed chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs! I mean, what more do I need to say?!?
Yeah, still going to keep talking about it, because this cake deserves more than just a paragraph. It probably deserves its own book, but I guess it’ll have to settle for this post!
Here’s my advice: if you’re going to make a big ole’ cake, take a shortcut if you can! I love taking a simple box cake mix and sprucing it up a bit! I promise you, your guests won’t be able to taste the difference! The thing about a box cake mix is that it’s done a large portion of the work for you; it has all the flour, cocoa powder(depending on the cake mix), and leavening agent already measured for you! You just have to take care of the wet ingredients! Most box mixes will tell you to add a couple of eggs, water, and oil. I like using milk, butter and adding a little bit of sour cream. I think this gives a richer, more moist cake. Let’s be real here, butter makes everything better.
I wanted a really large, show-stopper cake, so I doubled the cake and icing recipe! Feel free to double it, or just keep the one! This is an incredibly rich and sweet cake, so I promise you, you’ll have more than enough cake to go around!
So, let’s get to it!
1 box mix
1 and a 1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of sour cream
1 stick of butter, melted
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 sticks of butter
3 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
10-12 chocolate sandwich cookies, add more to preference!
8 ounces of good quality chocolate
1/2 cup of heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add in the cake mix. Then, add in the eggs, one at a time. Once the eggs are fully mixed, add in the milk, sour cream, vanilla, and melted butter. Beat on medium-high speed for about a minute, or until everything is fully combined. Line the bottom of two cake pans with parchment paper and separate the batter as evenly as possible between the two pans. I like to measure my pans on the parchment paper first and cut out the circle to just line the bottom of the pan. I think it helps create a smoother side of the cake.
Bake the cakes for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool.
In the meantime, gather the ingredients for the frosting. Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and begin to cream together. Then, very slowly, add in the powdered sugar. I found that it helps to add in the heavy cream, alternating with the powdered sugar, to help the powdered sugar not go all over the place. While the powdered sugar and butter are incorporating, crush together about 10 to 12 chocolate sandwich cookies in a food processor. You really want this mixture to be fine crumbs. If you have big chunks of cookie, it could get stuck in the piping tip, or create an uneven texture on the cake. Add the cookies into the icing mixture, on a slow-medium speed. Be careful not to overmix when you’re adding the cookies. I found that the icing turns from that light gray color of cookies and cream to a boring brown real quick, so just keep your eye on it and mix until just combined!
Now, time for the best part: cake decorating! Here’s the thing; Sometimes I feel really stressed when it comes to cake decorating because I want it to be this amazing show-stopper. If this is your first time decorating a large cake, my advice is for you to just enjoy the process and take your time. Cake decorating is not something you can just whip together in about ten minutes. You want to make sure your cakes are properly cooled, then you want to make sure the inner icing has time to set, along with the crumb coating. I suggest making sure you have plenty of time for all of this, that way you can enjoy this process! Trust me, I have spent many times stressing over my cake because I was trying to rush and ice cakes that were way too hot!
First thing, take a little dollop of icing and place it on the cake plate, this will be the plate that you will serve the cake on and act as the glue to hold the cake steady! Place your first cake layer down and add about 2 scoops of frosting on top. Using an offset spatula, spread out the icing just over the edge of the cake. You want the icing to slightly hang over the edge, so when you smooth it out later, the side of the cake will be even. You’ll complete this process with each layer of the cake until you get to the top. Scoop out the same amount of icing as you have been using for the middle layers and add to the top. You’ll spread this layer out just as you have before, however, when you get to the edge, you’ll want to take the offset spatula and push the icing down the side.
This is where you’ll start to frost the sides. To cover the sides, you could use the same offset spatula, or I find it works a little bit easier with a bench scraper, you’ll want to smooth out the icing that was pushed out the side. Applying light pressure, you’ll take the bench scraper, or tool of choice, and drag it along the side of the cake. This action grabs the icing and flattens it out to cover the edges of the cake. It might take a couple of tries to get the hang of it, but you will! It’s okay if some of the cake crumbs get into the icing. This coating is called the crumb coat, it’s job is to just cover the cake and act as a base layer.
Once the entire cake has been lightly covered in frosting, place in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes. You want the outer layer of frosting to harden up slightly, so you can start decorating on top!
If you plan on doing a lot of elaborate frosting techniques, I would suggest making a double batch of frosting. I have started always making a double batch because I like to really add a lot of icing on the outer edge of my cake, and I like to play around with piping techniques on the top of the cake.
After the cake has been in the fridge, you should have just enough icing left to cover in the bare spots of your cake. If there are any bare spots, it’s probably going to be on the side. I take my offset spatula and spread a little dollop wherever I can see cake showing through or if there’s a spot of icing that has a lot of crumbs. Once I have all my little dollops, I take my bench scraper and swipe it along the side to smooth out the edges. Your cake should be completely covered with icing!
You could stop there if you want…
But I went a little bit farther! This was for my brother-in-law’s birthday, so I had to go big!
In order to make it look super fancy, I knew this cake needed a ganache topping! This is also super easy to make! Heat the heavy cream in a pot on the oven, until it’s lightly simmering. While the heavy cream is warming up, chopping up the chocolate. The smaller the pieces of the chocolate, the quicker it’ll take to melt. Once the heavy cream is simmering, remove from heat. Add in the chocolate and cover with a dishtowel. Wait for about 5 minutes. Then, slowly stir the chocolate to combine. I took the ganache and poured it right in the middle of my cake. Taking my offset spatula, I slowly pushed the ganache closer to the outer edge, letting it slowly drip down the side! Because the cake is colder than the ganache, the ganache should stop dripping about halfway down the cake or so.
With the leftover icing, I added it to a piping bag with a star tip attached and piped little swirls of the top of the cake. To finish it all off, I added a couple of chocolate sandwich cookies in the middle.
Finally, the finished product!
I know that this seems like a lot, and it does have a lot of steps. However, most of the steps are totally optional! Cake decorating takes time to complete and to figure out your decorating style, but you will get there! After all, if you mess up, it’s still going to be a super delicious cake!