When my sister-in-law asked me to make a cake for her son's first birthday party, I asked her what kind of cake she wanted, and she said she wanted a plane or a dog. When I clarified that I wanted to know what kind of flavor she wanted, she said that it was up to me.
My husband and I spent some time debating the merits of vanilla and chocolate until it occured to me that it would be fun to combine them. While marbled cakes are always delicious, I thought that a Chuck-E-Cheese birthday party would be the perfect opportunity to try out something more playful: Cookies & Cream Cake.
In this cake, crushed Oreos (cream and all) are folded into a vanilla cake batter. When baked, the chocolate cookies soften a bit and the cream melted into the cake. I actually used Trader Joe's Jojos instead of Oreos - I'd like to say that it's because the absence of hydrogenated oil makes it a healthier alternative to Oreos, but that would be like saying that fidgeting is a better form of exercise than watching T.V. The real reason is that there are vanilla bean specks in the Jojo cream, which makes it seem fancier to me - probably because I'm too much of a cheapskate to buy my own vanilla beans. Though adding cookies to cake batter is a small and simple step, it's enough to bump a cake from boring to novel.
This cake is more dense than cakes made from boxed cake mixes - my husband's family likes their cakes to be "hefty" (in the words of my father-in-law). However, if you like your cakes to be fluffier, you can take your favorite recipe (or vanilla cake mix) and just fold in some cookies.
Some notes about the pictures:
- If you would like to make an airplane cake, Wilton has very thorough instructions, as well as stencils for the propeller, wing, and tail. I did not want to buy their paisley pan, so I just cut the cake into the shape with a serrated knife and brushed away the crumbs with a pastry brush. Also, I used light blue for the windows instead of black - there's just too much food coloring involved in making black frosting.
- This slice of cake above is a couple days old, so it looks very dried out. Your cake will look more moist when it is fresh. I just included this so you could see what it looks like with cookie bits in it.
Cookies & Cream Cake
Adapted from Baking Bites
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk
12 crushed Oreos
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time, fully incorporating the first one before adding the next.
Stir in a third of the flour mixture. Stir in half of the milk. Stir in half of the remaining flour mixture. Stir in the last of the milk. Stir in the last of the flour mixture.
Bake for 27-32 minutes (depending on your oven and what kind of pan you're using). Let cool.
Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
(I doubled this to frost and decorate the cake and cookie attachments)
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup milk
Beat butter until fluffy. Add vanilla, milk, and half of the powdered sugar and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the rest of the powdered sugar a little bit at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
(I read that adding the powdered sugar really slowly - a couple tablespoons at a time - helps the frosting to firm up without needing as much sugar. I have yet to test this technique.)