Cookies and Cream Cake

Molly Marzalek-Kelly

Cookies and cream is so much more than a nostalgic ice cream flavor; it’s also the key to this striking triple-layer cake. Cookie “crunchies” sprinkled between the layers and "crunchie crumbs" stirred into the frosting add delightful texture to every bite. For those that love the classic ice cream, this is the ideal celebration cake.  

   

Prep
1 hr
Bake
24 to 26 mins
Total
4 hrs
Yield
one three-layer 8" cake
Cookies and Cream Cake

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.

  2. To make the cookie crunchies: In a medium bowl, sift together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder. Stir to combine.

  3. Add the melted butter and mix until pea- to walnut-sized crumbs form.

  4. Transfer the crumbs to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until you begin to smell chocolate and the crumbs feel dry to the touch. Halfway through the bake time, give the crumbs a stir to break up any large pieces.

  5. Remove the crunchies from the oven and set them aside to cool completely.

  6. Leave the oven on (350°F). Lightly grease three 8” round cake pans.

  7. To make the batter: In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoas, and sugar.

  8. Add the butter and mix at low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the oil and continue mixing until the mixture looks sandy, about 30 seconds more.

  9. In a large measuring cup, combine the vanilla with the milk and coffee (or water), and add all at once to the dry ingredients. Mix for 1 minute at low speed. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix for 30 seconds more.

  10. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well at medium-high speed between additions.

  11. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for 30 seconds more. The batter will be thin.

  12. Divide the batter among the prepared pans, using about 2 cups (460g) batter per layer. Smooth the tops of the layers with an offset spatula.

  13. To bake the cakes: Bake the cakes for 24 to 26 minutes, until the top of one springs back when very lightly touched in the center, and the edges just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. A toothpick or paring knife inserted in the center will come out clean.

  14. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool completely in the pans.

  15. To make the frosting: Place the baking morsels in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer.

  16. Heat the cream in a saucepan set over medium heat (or in the microwave) until the mixture begins to steam. Pour the cream over the baking morsels and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Gently stir until the morsels are completely melted. Set the mixture (ganache) aside to cool to room temperature (75° or below).

  17. Once the ganache has cooled to room temperature, stir in the salt and vanilla.

  18. Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the ganache on low speed, slowly adding the butter and shortening in several additions.

  19. After the butter and shortening have been added, increase the speed to high and whip the ganache until fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  20. Sift the confectioners' sugar into the whipped ganache and mix to combine.

  21. To assemble the cake: Set aside 1 cup (about 110g) of cookie crunchies. Pulse the remaining cookie crunchies in a food processor or put them in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to grind into fine crumbs; you should have about 1 cup (151g) of fine crumbs.

  22. Fold 2/3 cup (100g) fine crumbs into the prepared frosting, setting aside the remainder to decorate the frosted cake.

  23. Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate or cake stand; tuck strips of waxed or parchment paper underneath the edge of the cake to keep the plate clean.

  24. Spread the cake with about 3/4 cup (140g) of frosting, then sprinkle about 1/2 cup (55g) cookie crunchies over the frosting. Center the second layer atop the first and press gently to set it in place.

  25. Spread the second layer with about 3/4 cup of frosting, then sprinkle the remaining cookie crunchies over the frosting. Place the third layer on top and press gently to set it in place.

  26. To finish the cake: For the best-looking cake, apply the frosting in two steps. First, spread a very thin layer of frosting around the sides and across the top; this is called a crumb coat. It should be thin enough to see through in places. Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes to let this layer set. (You can skip this step if time is a factor.)

  27. Once the cake is chilled, use the remaining frosting to coat it thoroughly and evenly. Sprinkle the frosting with the remaining fine cookie crumbs. If you have any leftover frosting, use it to pipe decorations on the top and/or around the base, as desired.

  28. Cover the cake and store it at room temperature, or in the refrigerator if your kitchen is hot. Let it come to room temperature before serving.

  29. Store leftovers, covered, at cool room temperature for a couple of days; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • While any three-layer chocolate cake recipe could potentially work for the cake part of this creation, we recommend the one featured here: its combination of black and Dutch-process cocoas really helps brings the chocolate flavor front and center.

  • You’d usually want to bake with a top-quality real white chocolate — but not this time. We find that the flavor of true white chocolate here is too strong; white baking morsels or chips yield the perfect nostalgic cookies and cream flavor. When purchasing chips/morsels, look for a product that doesn’t include the word “chocolate.” 

  • Skip the homemade cookie crunchies if you're short on time. Instead, use storebought chocolate sandwich cookies. Use a food processor to grind about 10 sandwich cookies (cream filling and all!) until it resembles coarse sand; you should have about 1 cup (110g) of crumbs. Fold about 2/3 cup of the crumbs into the frosting, reserving the rest for decoration.

    For the cookie crunchies between the layers, roughly chop another 10 sandwich cookies. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the chopped cookies evenly over the first frosted layer, and use the remaining chopped cookies to sprinkle over the second frosted layer. Decorate the cake as desired, topping with additional sandwich cookies as a garnish.