cookie cake bake off

Chocolate chip cookie cake

27 April 2017

Instead of birthday cake, my boys love a giant chocolate chip cookie cake. Their friends always love it too, but I’m never satisfied with the recipe. Like the oversized cookie that it is, its edges are golden and crispy all around, while the center is soft and gooey. In a regular cookie, you get all in one. But with squares cut from a mutant cookie cake, each piece is more edge or more center.

As with pizza, more middle is never a problem. But no one wants a slice that is all crust. Chocolate chip cookies aren’t brownies.

I never hung onto the recipe, because I always meant to find a better one. Every time the kids asked for the cookie cake, I went online for it again. But my friend Cathy asked for the recipe recently for her son Ryan’s upcoming birthday, and it had disappeared from my usual Google search.

Oh, the fickle internet. When digital armageddon comes, I’m going to be lost. I’ve outsourced my memory to the cloud, and if the electronic world does dark I’ll be huddling confused in my Paleolithic cave. At the very least, I’ll have a backup of my blog to count on.

So I’m finally adding a chocolate chip cookie cake recipe to my online brain archive here. The recipe I’d used before, similar to Toll House original, was never The One. But I did a bake-off and found the keeper.

The Toll House recipe is a classic for good reason – a great mix between crispy and chewy, with good butter flavor and the right amount of chocolate. But for a cookie cake, I wanted a more consistent texture from edge to middle.

Bakers all have their own version of the best chocolate chip cookie, and usually they are minor variations on the Toll House recipe. But Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt came up with a recipe a few years ago that is truly fantastic for cookies and – as I just found out – even better for chocolate chip cookie cake.

Ashley’s cookies are softer than Toll House (higher brown to white sugar ratio), a little heftier (higher flour to butter ratio), and they bake more evenly.

When made into a cookie cake, every slice tastes like it’s from the soft center of a chocolate chip cookie. It’s a winner.

Ashley uses three kinds of sugar and hand-chops her chocolate, but you guys know I’m too lazy for that level of exactitude. My simplified version here has the same ingredients as most other chocolate chip recipes: butter, white and brown sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda, vanilla and chocolate chips. The tweaked proportions make all the difference.

cookie ingredients

You can use an electric mixer if you have one, but you don’t need it. My little hand mixer, a gift from my friend Alli in college 25 years ago, finally died several months ago, but I used it only rarely. I just don’t make food that requires an electric mixer, like I don’t buy clothes that require ironing.

Plus I like mixing by hand – with the bonus arm workout – and having fewer things to wash.

butter sugars

When I get tired of struggling with the sugar-butter paste, I add an egg to loosen things up.

egg butter sugar

Even easier with the second egg.

creaming eggs butter sugar

Vanilla.

vanilla

Add flour mixture in batches.

flour in batches

A hefty load of chocolate chips.

chocolate chips

Dump it all into a pan. Perfectionists use parchment paper to line the pan, so that the cake can be lifted out and cut perfectly. Of course I can’t be bothered.

cookie dough sheet pan

Use a spatula or your hands to spread the dough. A bit of water on the hands or utensil will help keep the dough from sticking to you instead of the pan.

spreading cookie dough

Ashley’s recipe (left) is the clear winner for consistency – there are no bad pieces in this sheet cookie. With the Toll House-type recipe (right), there is a clearer divide between the crispy edge pieces and the softer inside pieces.

recipe comparison

This is what my ugly-duckling birthday cookie cake looked like. I wasn’t sure how much it was going to make, so it doesn’t fit the pan. And it’s mostly overbaked. But I knew third-grade boys didn’t care about any of it.

birthday cookie cake

This is what it should look like.

chocolate chip cookie sheet cake

And now I can finally share this recipe with Cathy. Happy birthday Ryan!

winner cookie cake

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Cookies for a crowd with the blessed ease of one big pan, one big batch. More often than not, my boys choose a giant sheet cookie over cake for their birthdays, and their friends always love it. Adapted from the unbeatable chocolate chip sea salt cookie recipe from the lovely Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (3/4 teaspoon if using unsalted butter)
  • 16 ounces (2 2/3 cups) chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon good quality salt, for sprinkling on top before baking (optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream the butter and the sugars. Add the eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla.
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and mix. In batches, add the flour to the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Mix until just combined. With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Using a flexible spatula or your hands, spread batter in an ungreased 18″x13″ half-sheet pan, or two 9″x13″ pans (line with parchment paper for easy removal if you like). Lightly wet your hands/spatula to keep the batter from sticking.
  5. If desired, sprinkle good quality salt on top (kids tend to think this is weird, so I normally go without even though I’m a fan of salty sweet).
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 16-18 minutes. Cake should be lightly golden all over. With chocolate chip cookies, a little underbaked (soft) is better than overbaked (hard).

Makes 48 cookies (about 2″ square).

Notes

  • Half recipe (for one 9″x13″ pan): 1 stick butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 7/8 cup packed brown sugar (1 cup less 2 tablespoons), 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 3/4 cups flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/8 teaspoon salt (1/3 teaspoon if using unsalted butter), 8 ounces (1 1/3 cups) chocolate chips, 1/4 teaspoon good quality salt for sprinkling on top (optional).
  • Of course you can make this dough into regular cookies if you prefer. Cooking time will be less, about 12-14 minutes per batch.

Here’s the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy Pacheco 28 April 2017 at 11:02 am

Life saver…Lillian always has wonderful tips and nuggets that even a non-chef, such as myself, can create a master piece. Ryan will be thrilled!

Reply

Wolfsbane 28 April 2017 at 11:16 am

Gee, my late grandma made chocolate chip cookies that were crispy all the way through. They were delicious. I’ve never been able to figure out her recipe. She’s been gone since 1983 and I’ve really been jonesing for her cookies (and a lot of her other recipes too). She was a trained cook of the old school variety. Before she and my grandfather married and emigrated here, she had worked for an old German Junker family and had cooked for the Kaiser on several occasions when he was their guest.

Looking at your cookie cake, it appears a lot like my microwave cookies. I’m way too impatient to wait for cookies to bake when I have an urge as well as too lazy to clean multiple mixing and baking pans. So usually mix them up in a large plastic flat container and then toss it into the microwave. I’ve found that 1/4 to 1/3 of the baking time printed on the package is enough to bake them in the microwave. You don’t really get any browning but they taste pretty good. Naturally I pop them in the freezer for a few minutes to cool them down because I’m too lazy to wait for them to cool naturally. They obviously don’t come out as individual cookies, just a single large one which needs to be cut or broken up into pieces.

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cg 29 April 2017 at 12:32 am

hi wolfsbane – i’m sure your grandma’s cookies were fantastic – cooking for the kaiser, wow! crispy is good too…my peeps just happen to be on team gooey. but you are so right, there is a pleasure filled by the foods of our youth that is about more than just taste. and lol on the microwave cookies! microwaves and bread products aren’t usually happy partners, so i never would have thought to try it. thanks for the creative tip. =)

Reply

Lisa 28 April 2017 at 11:17 am

Happy birthday Ryan! Thanks for being the reason to celebrate!
The cake looks delicious and right up our alley.
Thanks for another great post, CG!

Reply

cg 29 April 2017 at 12:22 am

thank you, lisa!

Reply

Lulu 28 April 2017 at 9:56 pm

Thank you for the recipe. I am sure your boys did not mind the taste testing!

Reply

cg 29 April 2017 at 12:21 am

hi lulu – you are too right! =)

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