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.
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.
When I get tired of struggling with the sugar-butter paste, I add an egg to loosen things up.
Even easier with the second egg.
Add flour mixture in batches.
A hefty load of 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.
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.
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.
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.
This is what it should look like.
And now I can finally share this recipe with Cathy. Happy birthday Ryan!
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.
- 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 teaspoons 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)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cream the butter and the sugars. Add the eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.