My Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
My best chocolate chip cookie cake recipe makes a 10-inch chocolate chip cookie with a giant, fudgy center and crisp edges. The cake is then decorated with a classic American buttercream frosting and lots of sprinkles. All in all, it tastes like the chocolate chip cookie cake I remember fondly from my childhood!
Because truth be told, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for chocolate chip cookie cakes. You know, the kind you can get at the bakery aisle of any standard grocery store? As a kid, I loved how giant all the cookie cakes seemed—they reminded me of pizzas, lol. I would always beg my mom to let me celebrate my birthdays with chocolate chip cookie cakes. I also celebrated occasions like my high school best friend’s 18th birthday and my cookbook deal with a chocolate chip cookie cake!
Over my many years of blogging, I’ve tried many chocolate chip cookie cake recipes from trusted sources like Bon Appetit magazine and America’s Test Kitchen. Both recipes were good, but felt short of what I was looking for. The resulting cookie cakes were too crispy, and both used “elevated” ingredients like brown butter and gourmet chocolate. I wanted something more similar to the chocolate chip cookie cake I remembered from my childhood. Specifically, a giant chocolate chip cookie with a fudgy, rich texture, all topped with sweet buttercream.
I’m happy to report that this chocolate chip cookie cake recipe is IT.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Decorating Ideas
In addition to tasting like the chocolate chip cookie cakes from my childhood, I made sure to decorate this cake to look like one of them, too. The chocolate chip cookie cakes from my childhood always had a piped border of American buttercream frosting dotting their edges. If celebrating an occasion like my birthday, my mom or best friend would commission the bakery to spell something like “Happy Birthday, Michelle!” in frosting in the center of the cake.
Sadly, there hasn’t been too much to celebrate this year thanks to COVID-19. Many of the things I was looking forward to—a trip to New York City to celebrate my future mother-in-law’s birthday, a girls’ trip with my mom to Japan to see the wisteria blooms, heck, even our freaking wedding—were outright cancelled as a result. Right now, we’re about a month into the social distancing measures that were put in place in my city to help fight the pandemic. Although I advocated fiercely for following the restrictions, I’m definitely feeling the isolation of it all.
So I decided to channel all that despair and frustration into this cake! I’m pretty sure the chocolate chip cookie cake says everything about how I feel. But here’s the best part: decorating my cake this way cheered me up a LOT. I texted a photo of this cake to many of the good friends I hadn’t seen in weeks and we all had a good cry/laugh/vent session together. Later, I biked around the city to get some much needed exercise, all while doing a contactless drop-off of leftover chocolate chip cookie cake slices on my friends’ porches.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that stress baking isn’t a real thing.
Why You Should Make This Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Recipe
In addition to being a fun #stressbaking #quarantinecake-making project, there are other reasons to make this chocolate chip cookie cake recipe, too:
- This chocolate chip cookie cake recipe is delicious and tastes like childhood nostalgia.
I mentioned earlier that I was unhappy with the previous chocolate chip cookie cake recipes I’d tried. But this one knocks it out of the park! The chocolate chip cookie cake results in extremely dense and fudgy slices, all topped off with just the right amount of sweet buttercream frosting. Honestly, it’d almost be too much if it didn’t exactly like the supermarket chocolate chip cookie cakes that I loved so much as a kid. Be sure to check out the ingredients below for more on how I managed to achieve these flavors!
- This chocolate chip cookie cake recipe is EXTREMELY quick and easy to make.
Most chocolate chip cookie recipes, cake or otherwise, instruct you to bring butter down to room temperature to be able to cream it with sugar for the dough. Good news! There’s no need to do that for this recipe—instead, I instruct you to melt the butter instead. Doing so results in the extremely fudgy and dense texture of this giant chocolate chip cookie cake. You can read more about the science of why in this epic Serious Eats post about developing the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.
It also turns out that baking a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough as one giant cake significantly reduces your Bake Time. Most cookie recipes require you to bake multiple batches of cookies. While it takes only around 10 minutes or so to bake each batch, most recipes make around 4 batches. This significantly increases your total Bake Time to 40 minutes! However, with this chocolate chip cookie recipe, you’ll only need to bake the cookie dough as one giant chocolate chip cookie cake for 20 or so minutes.
- This chocolate chip cookie cake recipe stores well and keeps longer than individual chocolate chip cookies.
Individual chocolate chip cookies get stale faster than a giant chocolate chip cookie cake. I have no idea why. It’s just some kind of magic, lol.
Ingredients to Make My Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Recipe
Now that I’ve convinced you to make this chocolate chip cookie cake recipe, here’s the shopping list for the recipe:
Shopping List For My Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Recipe
- salted OR unsalted butter
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- baking soda
- kosher salt
- dark OR light brown sugar
- granulated sugar
- large eggs
- pure vanilla extract
- semisweet chocolate chips
- confectioners’ sugar
- whole milk
- food coloring (optional, for decorating)
- sprinkles (optional, for garnish)
And here’s a secret: it’s actually the chocolate chip cookie recipe from my cookbook, but with a few important ingredient changes! These changes are responsible for making them taste like the supermarket chocolate chip cookie cakes I remember so fondly from my childhood. Let’s talk about them below:
My best chocolate chip cookie cake recipe needs ½ salted OR unsalted butter to make the cake.
99% of baking recipes instruct you to use unsalted butter in your baked goods. Why? The level of salt in salted butter varies from brand to brand. Using unsalted butter allows the baker to control the EXACT amount of salt in their baked goods without worrying about which brand to use.
But here’s a secret: you can get away with using salted butter in a LOT of baking recipes. In fact, some folks argue that all that extra salt from the salted butter makes them even better. I personally find that it’s best to use salted butter with bold flavors like chocolate and peanut butter.
For this recipe, I used salted butter because most commercial bakeries use a shocking amount of fat and salt in their recipes. It’s the secret to why everything tastes so dang good, really. I also wanted a lot of salt to balance out the sweetness of the buttercream frosting topping.
Can I use unsalted butter instead?
Yes, absolutely! You can use unsalted butter in place of the salted butter in this chocolate chip cookie cake recipe. Follow the rest of the ingredients and recipe exactly as written; there’s no need to make any changes as a result!
My best chocolate chip cookie cake recipe needs ¾ cup brown sugar to make the cake.
Light Versus Dark Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is granulated white sugar with a touch of molasses to give it its signature color and flavor. Because brown sugar contains molasses, it adds more moisture to baked goods than granulated sugar otherwise would. Brown sugar is available in two varieties: light or dark. Dark brown sugar is my personal preference; because it contains more molasses, I find it to be more flavorful.
Can I use coconut sugar instead of brown sugar in this chocolate chip cookie cake?
Technically yes, but I don’t recommend it. Why? Coconut sugar is made from the nectar produced by coconut blossoms (not actual coconuts), which is then boiled and ground to create a granular substance with a texture similar to brown sugar. Folks like to use it as a substitute for brown sugar because its natural toasted brown color and caramelized taste is similar to that of brown sugar.
But that being said, coconut sugar has the same neutral pH level as granulated white sugar. Brown sugar, on the other hand, is slightly acidic. This acidic quality allows the brown sugar to react with the baking soda in the recipe to leaven the cookies and create their unique texture. So if you use coconut sugar in place of brown sugar, your cookies will likely have a very different texture than mine.
My best chocolate chip cookie cake recipe needs 1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips to make the cake.
If you own my cookbook, you may have noticed that I rail against chocolate chips a LOT. Why? Cheap chocolate chips contain additives like palm oil and paraffin wax that help them retain their shape after being baked. Unfortunately, it also affects their flavor. As a result, I rely on fancy chocolate bars, feve discs, or wafers for most of my baking.
But supermarket bakeries don’t make chocolate chip cookie cakes with that kind of gourmet chocolate. And I’m going for nostalgia with my best chocolate chip cookie cake recipe, remember? The truth is, this recipe just doesn’t taste right with fancy chocolate.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Icing Recipe
To be honest, the icing was the trickiest part to nail in this recipe. The chocolate chip cookie cakes from my childhood always had garishly colored buttercream frosting—the kind that’s usually made from shortening, and dries to create a stiff, hard “crust”.
For my cookie cake, I used a simple American buttercream frosting made with powdered sugar, butter, and a splash of milk and vanilla. It comes together in 5 minutes and tastes like the frosting you liked best as a kid—unapologetically sweet and simple. The key is to whip the buttercream for at least 5 minutes to until it is light and airy. At first, the frosting will be soft and pipeable. But this frosting will harden and crust the longer it sits, making it the perfect frosting for the chocolate chip cookie cake.
How to Make a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake: Recipe Troubleshooting
FAQ: Tools to Make a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Do I need a special chocolate chip cookie cake pan?
No! Like I said above, I developed this recipe specifically for a 10- or 12-inch skillet. You can also bake the chocolate chip cookie cake in traditional cake pans or a springform pan.
Traditional cake pans are usually 8- or 9-inches wide, while springform pans are typically 9- or 10-inches. If you make this recipe in a smaller cake pan, your cookie cake will come out thicker than mine. You may also need to increase Bake Time for a few minutes to adjust for this thickness. In general, thicker baked goods take longer to bake.
Alternatively, note that I made this recipe in this 10-inch skillet. If you’re using a 12-inch skillet, your chocolate chip cookie cake will likely be thinner than mine. You may need to decrease Bake Time; check for doneness at 18 minutes instead of the 20 minutes listed in the recipe.
FAQ: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Techniques
Can I use store-bought cookie dough to make a chocolate chip cookie cake?
You can! Look for a tube or packet of chocolate chip cookie dough that makes around 16 cookies (or clocks in at around 16 ounces). Follow the instructions in my recipe to press the cookie dough into the skillet or cake pan of your choice and bake accordingly.
Can I use this cookie dough to make cookies instead?
Yep! Though I’m not sure why you would, especially when I have many chocolate chip cookie recipes already available (see links for them below!). But if you insist, use a 3-tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion the dough into cookies. You’ll end up with around 16 cookie dough balls. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper. Place the cookie dough balls at least 3 inches apart on the prepared sheet pans. Bake one pan at a time at 350℉ for 10 minutes. The cookies will look puffed when you pull them out of the oven, but will fall and crack into the perfect cookies as they cool.
How long to bake a chocolate chip cookie cake?
Most chocolate chip cookie cake recipes are baked for between 20 to 25 minutes. In general, it’s better to pull out the cookie cake when the center is still gooey but the edges have set. If you wait until the center is fully set, it’s likely that your cookie cake will be too crispy and hard. Why? The residual heat from the pan will continue to bake the cookie cake even after its pulled out of the oven. Test for doneness by sticking a toothpick in the center of the cookie cake—if it comes out with few crumbs, it’s perfect!
FAQ: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Recipe Results
How big is this giant chocolate chip cookie cake?
Truth be told, most supermarket chocolate chip cookie cakes clock in at larger sizes and are usually between 12 to 18 inches wide… or at least they were in Texas, where I grew up (and everything is bigger in Texas, am I right?!).
However, my recipe makes a chocolate chip cookie cake that is smaller than that. My chocolate chip cookie cake is around 10 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Why? Most folks don’t have a 12-inch+ cake pan in their home kitchen. But a lot of folks have a 10-inch or 12-inch cast iron skillet. As a result, I decided to develop a recipe for that pan.
That being said, if you are the proud owner of a 12 inches+ cake pan, feel free to bake this chocolate chip cookie cake recipe in it! You may need to shorten the Bake Time. Because the cake pan is bigger, the dough will spread more thinly across the pan and require a shorter Bake Time.
Help! My chocolate chip cookie cake tasted super salty. What did I do wrong?
Here’s the thing: although I instruct you to use salted butter for the cookie dough in this recipe, it’s always a little bit risky to do so. Why? Different brands add varying levels of salt to their salted butter. That means that the flavor of your dessert will vary widely depending on whatever brand of salted butter you happened to use. And if you found this chocolate chip cookie cake too salty, it’s likely because you used an extra salty type of salted butter.
If you want to try making this recipe again with the same type of salted butter you used, I recommend decreasing the amount of kosher salt in this recipe to a ½ teaspoon. Alternatively, you can also avoid this sort of risk in the future by baking the recipe as is but with unsalted butter instead. Baking with unsalted butter will give you more control over the final taste of the product since you’ll be adding all the salt in the recipe yourself.
FAQ: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Storage
Can I freeze the unbaked chocolate chip cookie cake?
Yes, you can! To freeze the unbaked cookie dough, follow the recipe to make the dough as instructed. Instead of pressing the cookie dough into the skillet, mold it into a rough ball and press down to make a disc. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. To bake into a cookie cake, thaw the disc overnight in the refrigerator and follow the instructions in the recipe to press it into the skillet and bake.
Can I freeze the baked chocolate chip cookie cake?
Yes, you can! To freeze the baked cookie cake, follow the recipe’s instructions to cool the chocolate chip cookie cake completely and decorate. Once the frosting has “crusted” (it should harden to the point that your finger won’t leave an indent in the frosting when it’s gently poked), slice the cookie cake into wedges. Tightly wrap the individual wedges in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. To enjoy, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then for a few hours at room temperature.
Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Recipe Tips
Best Ingredient Tip
- Note that while the chocolate chip cookie cake dough instructs you to use salted butter, you’ll need to use UNSALTED butter for the frosting. In general, it’s not a good idea to use salted butter for frosting. Frosting recipes usually require a LOT of butter. Using salted butter at that volume will definitely make your frosting taste salty.
In a pinch, if you only have unsalted butter on hand, don’t worry! Simply follow the recipe. There’s no need to increase the amount of salt in the cookie dough. If you only have salted butter on hand, feel free to use it in the frosting recipe. But don’t say I didn’t warn you if you find it to be too salty and weird! You may also want to skip the “pinch of salt” I instruct you to use.
Best Technique Tip
- The easiest way to spread the cookie dough across the skillet is to use a stiff rubber spatula, a wooden spoon, or even your hands to press the dough into the pan. Don’t dump the cookie dough all at once into the center of the pan! Instead, transfer the dough bit by bit, pressing it into the pan as you go. Doing so will make it easier to get it across the pan, I promise.
Best Decorating Tip
- To pipe the border, I used a star tip from this Ateco jumbo piping tip set. To make the letters, I borrowed a trick from my friend Molly and dyed some white marzipan with food coloring. I then rolled it out into a slab and used these cursive cookie cutters to stamp out the letters. But you can also use fondant, or even cookie or pie dough! Alternatively, if you’re feeling ambitious, pipe the words with frosting like Alanna or Becca. You can’t go wrong.
More Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes
- Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups
- Brown Butter and Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
- S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Vegan Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
My Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Recipe
For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
- ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) salted (preferred) OR unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, plus more for pan
- 1 ⅔ cups (7.5 ounces or 213 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup tightly packed (5.65 ounces or 160 grams) dark OR light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (1.75 ounces or 50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups (8 ounces or 227 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Icing
- 4 Tablespoons (2 ounces or 57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1 ½ teaspoons whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- a pinch of kosher salt
- food coloring
For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
- Melt the butter. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat, about 10 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent the butter from getting too hot—at no point should it sizzle, crackle, or pop.
- Prep the oven and pan. While the butter melts, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet.
- Make the cookie dough. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars.
- Once the butter has melted completely, pour it over the sugar in the mixer bowl and beat on low until just combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, and beat on low for an additional 30 seconds. Increase the mixer to medium-low, add the chocolate chips all at once, and beat until the chips are evenly distributed throughout, about 1 minute.
- Transfer the cookie dough into the prepared skillet by scraping a small portion of the dough into the pan and using a wooden spoon, stiff rubber spatula, or your hands to press the dough down into the skillet. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan.
- Bake the cookie cake. Bake the chocolate chip cookie cake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the edges are set but the center is still gooey. Cool on a wire rack completely before frosting. The cookie cake can be stored by slicing it into wedges after frosting. Store the wedges in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Icing
- Make the icing. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-low until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer to low and add the confectioners' sugar ¼ cup at a time, beating until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the milk, vanilla, and salt all at once and beat on low just to incorporate the liquid. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, then beat on medium-high until the frosting is creamy and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Decorate the cake. Use immediately by scraping into a piping bag fitted with the piping tip of your choice. At first the frosting will be creamy and smooth, but will harden the longer it sits. The frosting can also be made for up to 1 week in advance. Transfer to an airtight container with a lid and refrigerate. Before using in a recipe, bring to room temperature and beat on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
This post was last updated on 8/18/2020.
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Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.