So I find myself repeatedly doing this thing where I announce that I am "back to blogging" on a more scheduled and regular basis. A week later, and poof! I'm gone. Vanished. To give myself some credit, I've been going from place to place to place every day of my life since this semester started. I've been so disoriented that I literally forgot my calculator for my math final... yeah.
Well, that stops here. Shit is about to get real crazy around here because IT'S FINALLY SUMMER! (Picture me screaming and dancing right now, because I am.) I cannot even believe it. No really, it hasn't hit me yet. On Wednesday, I took my very last final and could immediately feel my breath returning to normal for the first time since January. This semester was insane. Like... bat shit crazy insane. But hard work pays off.
After a semester from hell, I am determined to make this summer amazing. I mean, having no school until the very last week of August is a reward in itself, but I've got even bigger things planned. On Monday, I start my internship with the Besh Restaurant Group. (Yep. THE John Besh) Being that I essentially go out to eat for a living, I couldn't be more excited to start working in the food industry. At the end of the month, I'm heading off to Europe for a big, much-needed two week vacation throughout Italy, Greece, Turkey, and a stop in Amsterdam. After that, I've got plenty of special projects, photography gigs, concerts (hello Beyonce and Jay Z), pool parties, and hopefully one too many mojitos. It shall be great.
But in the meantime, it's time to celebrate! And what's a celebration without cake? (Don't answer that. Actually, don't even imagine that tragic.) I figured that the best way to welcome in summer was by putting a giant dent in my diet with something absurdly decadent and over-the-top. I think I succeeded. Drumroll please.... welcome the Half Baked Cake.
My inspiration for this cake came as I was ordering my weekly Pinkberry fix. There's an art to creating the perfect combination of yogurt and topping. After getting my yogurt, my eyes darted back and forth and back and forth through the spread of sugary accoutrements I could add on top. Inside my head, there was an intense discourse:
I probably should just be good and get fruit today.
Wait but those chocolate wafer rolls...
One of everything can't hurt right? Wait no, I can't do that.
Oh my god are those cookie dough bites?
Like many of you, I'm a cookie dough addict — I probably eat about two or three cookies in just dough alone whenever I whip up a batch. This is coming from the hypochondriac child who steadfastly swore against the consumption of raw eggs due to his debilitating fear of contracting salmonella. The boy who still refuses to touch raw chicken, even if it's wrapped in another bag inside of a grocery bag. (I know, I'm dramatic.) But hey, at least I got over the raw egg thing.
This cake is absurd. No really. It's just so.... extra. This cake does the most. Let me explain why:
1) There's brown sugar in every single element of this cake. Brown sugar cake, brown sugar icing, brown sugar crumb.
2) The icing tastes like straight up cookie dough.
3) There is cookie dough in between the layers.
4) There are chunks of gooey-cookie dough baked in the actual cake.
5) I made the decision to assemble the cake Momofuku Milk Bar style.
Absolutely perfect. Brb, going to the gym.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Gradually add in the flour and salt. Fold in chocolate chips. Form the dough into a thin rectangle, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer until solid, 30+ minutes.
Cookie Dough Cake
- 2 2/3 cups cake flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one 9x13 cake pan or two 9-inch cake pans. In a mixing bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one by one. Mix in the vegetable oil and vanilla. Gradually add in the dry ingredients in three parts alternately with the milk. (A third of the dry ingredients, half of the milk, another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the milk, the rest of the dry ingredients.) Remove two-thirds of the cookie dough from the freezer and cut into small 1/4-inch cubes, gently fold them into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). For a 9x13, bake for 30 minutes. For two 9-inch rounds, bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove pans from oven and cool.
Cookie Dough Buttercream
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tablespoons milk
In a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla. Mix in flour and salt. Add in milk until desired consistency is reached.
(If you're making this in two 9-inch rounds, you can ice the cake as you would normally. If you want to make this Milk Bar-style like me, continue on)
- Invert the cake onto a sheet of parchment paper or silpat, and peel off the parchment paper backing. Using the 6-inch cake ring, stamp out two circles from the cake. These will be the top and middle layers. The remaining cake "scrap' will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
- Clean the cake ring and place it on a sheet of parchment paper or silpat atop a baking sheet. Use one strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. Put the cake scraps in the ring and use the back of your hand to press the scraps together into a flat even later.
- Mix the vanilla cake soak. (1/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon vanilla). Dunk the pastry brush in the cake soak and give the layer of scraps a good, healthy bath of half of the soak.
- Spread one fifth of the brown sugar frosting over the base layer. Then sprinkle with one-third of the cookie dough evenly over the top of the frosting. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place. Top with another fifth of the frosting, carefully spreading it so that it is even, but without disturbing the cookie dough.
- With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top 1/4 inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5-6 inches tall- high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Top with a full circle of cake (save the nicest one for the top layer), brush the rest of the cake soak over this layer, top with another one fifth of the frosting, one third of the cookie dough, and another one fifth of the frosting.
- Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the last fifth of the frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or opt for the perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the remaining cookie dough.
- Freeze the cake for at least 12 hours to set the cake and filling. (And to make the unmolding much easier.)
- Three hours before serving, pull the pan from the freezer, and using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours. (wrapped well in plastic, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)