variations on a theme of messy cookie cake.

variations on a theme of messy cookie cake.

You’re in for a treat, folks, because this week, you will know the glory that is messy cookie cake.

What is it, you ask? I’ll tell you, but you have to realize that the end result is so much more wonderful than you can imagine just by reading the description: it’s basically a cake made out of chocolate chip cookie dough and a sweet cream cheese sauce. As a child, it was one of my favorite things in my mom’s arsenal of sweet treats, and as an adult, it’s the dessert I request every time I go home to visit. When warm, and eaten with a glass of ice-cold milk, this cake is sugary-chocolatey nirvana. It is a part of my childhood. Also, it’s freakin’ delicious. Are you ready?

messy cookie cake classic (and soup!)

true to its name

Last weekend, Emily finally hosted another one of her renowned, long-awaited soup nights (for which Kenan drew the invitation). And oh man, were we excited, because Emily’s lovely apartment, a whole slew of terrific people, and hot bowls of fantastic soup all make for a truly enjoyable evening. And of course, I couldn’t help but bring along a batch of something sweet to offset all the savory deliciousness. As the first few hints of fall have just started to creep in around the corners of the city, making everything breezy and brisk and amazing, something comforting and cozy seemed like it would fit the bill perfectly. And as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing more comforting or cozy than a nice chunk of messy cookie cake on a cool evening.

Okay, so I know I’m making this cake sound like it’s the best thing in the world ever (I think it is; you’re perfectly welcome to disagree, but you would be wrong), but one of the things about messy cookie cake that truly is awesome is that it is super simple to prepare. All you need are the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies, some cream cheese, and a bit of milk.

I went out to fetch supplies, and then returned to the apartment, excited at the prospect of giving my favorite childhood dessert a proper introduction to the East coast. As I mentioned, messy cookie cake is quite straightforward. For the cookie base, I used a variation on an Alton Brown recipe, but really, any chocolate chip cookie recipe will do. The dough base is made just the way cookie dough is always made: sift the dry ingredients separately; whip the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until they’re fluffy and light colored; add the dry ingredients to the wet; and then gently stir in the chocolate chips. Then, you warm up the cream cheese with the milk and some sugar until they form a creamy sauce. When the sauce is ready, the dough is dropped in bits into the bottom of a baking pan and the sauce is drizzled over it. After it’s baked for about an hour, the top is golden brown and slightly crispy, the cream cheese is caramelized around the edges, and your whole apartment smells like your oven is radiating pure glee. Needless to say, it was really quite difficult for me to keep myself from eating the cake before we got to the party.

Soup nights are always so much fun: a small Brooklyn apartment stuffed to the gills with hungry people; good wine; good company; and loads of scrumptious soup. On this particular night, the soup menu included a tomato-bacon-white bean soup and probably the best corn chowder I’ve ever tasted. Also on the overloaded food table were scads of cheese, bread, vegetables, and other snacks and sweets (I wasn’t the only one with that idea). The messy cookie cake was fluffy and sweet and caramely and chocolatey – I think one of the best I’ve ever made. It was also a hit, and my friend Kelly even pointed out to me that it was not unlike a bar cookie, which I had never noticed before. And so, after we’d stuffed ourselves silly with desserts and appetizers and soup (not necessarily in that order), we waddled home through the night, relishing the beginning of our favorite season.



And if you thought we were done here, you were wrong, because Kenan and I also got a call from Boots last weekend, inviting us over to dinner and requesting some messy cookie cake. We never pass up an opportunity to eat Boots’ delightful food, and I never pass up on opportunity to make (and eat!) messy cookie cake twice in one weekend, so we told her we’d be over in a flash.

But that night, at Coach n’ Boots’ place, there was a small problem: Coach was using their casserole dish to make his famous Crybaby Mac, and the only other baking pan Boots had was a muffin tin. So I threw caution to the wind and decided, for the first time ever, to make messy cookie muffins. Sounds risky, I know, but I am a baker both of science and of faith, and also I had a feeling that they would turn out all right. And in fact, they were quite delectable. Each little muffin guy had the coveted crispy-caramelized edge of messy cookie cake, and their smallness ensured that you wouldn’t get a tummy ache because you took too big of a piece. We ate them with relish, even though we were completely full (two nights in a row!) from Coach’s mac, and snuggled up on the couch watching This American Life. Really, who could ask for a cozier picture?

!messy cookie cake!

you have no idea

messy cookie dough (adapted from Alton Brown’s “The Puffy”)

unsalted butter at room temperature 1 cup (2 sticks)
granulated sugar 1/2 cup
light brown sugar, packed 1 1/4 cup
all-purpose flour 2 1/4 cup
salt 1 teaspoon
baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoon
eggs, at room temperature 2
vanilla extract 1 1/2 teaspoon
bittersweet chocolate chips 2 cups (12 ounces)

sweet cream cheese sauce

cream cheese 8 ounces (1 block)
milk 1/2 cup
granulated sugar 1/2 cup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Combine the butter, white sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer or a large mixing bowl. Mix on medium-high speed until light, creamy and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Stirring by hand, gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream cheese, milk and sugar. Stir, over low heat, until the mixture is creamy (don’t worry if the cream cheese looks a bit gritty; if it really bothers you, you can whisk it) and the cream cheese is entirely melted.

Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, drop about a third of the dough in chunks onto the bottom of an 8×8 baking pan. Drizzle about a third of the cream cheese mixture over the dough. Repeat twice, alternating the dough and the cream cheese mixture, finishing with the last of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake on the middle rack in the oven until the top is golden brown and a toothpick (or a knife) inserted into the center comes out without any wet bits (there will probably be a few little chunks of dough on the toothpick; this is okay, as long as none of it is uncooked). Let cool for 5 minutes. Yum.


photos by the adorable messycookiekenan

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4 notes

  1. mom says:

    Yay! It looks so good that I might have to make some myself tonight…especially with Bren home.
    Love you!

  2. boy blue says:

    well, if it’s so easy, i’m sure you wouldn’t mind making some more of it…

  3. […] cooked it in the oven tray girlcate needed for her messy cookie cake. thus did necessity beget the messy cookie muffin, and man is it amazing what you can convince yourself qualifies as breakfast […]

  4. […] Both Kenan and Cate wrote about their various angles of Soup Night over on their blogs. Go check them out! (Um, and […]

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