How To Make & Gift A Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake !

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

If you find yourself craving those large, decorated chocolate chip cookie cakes you can get at the mall, then you’ll love this post about making one for a celebratory occasion or as a gift for someone special.

I love classic-sized chocolate chip cookies as much as anyone else, but making a huge chocolate chip as a cookie cake is truly something fun and different. I can thank the Covid-19 pandemic for inspiring me to make chocolate chip cookie cakes as gifts. My daughter and I have made them for Canada Day, as graduation gifts, and as hostess gifts. You can check out my last post (click here) on making graduation day memorable with lots of desserts, including this cookie cake.

There are many recipes online for making a chocolate chip cookie cake. I like this recipe from Garnish and Glaze, which I’ve also included at the bottom of this page.

The point of this post, however, is to share my tips for making and gifting this chocolate chip cookie cake!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

I’m sure many of you have bought and loved the Mrs Fields cookies found at the mall. They’re personalized, delicious, and a consumable gift. I’m a huge fan of consumable gifts for various reasons, mainly that it’s shareable immediately and creates little waste. How environmentally friendly is that?!

Here are my tips for making a chocolate chip cookie cake as a gift:

  1. Check with your local baking supply store or bulk food store about the sizes of baking boxes they carry. You will want to bake a cake that fits into one of these boxes! For example, I called my bulk food store and found out that they only had the 9 inch cake boxes in stock, which meant that I had to use an 8 or 9 inch cake pan. Sounds basic, but you don’t want to make a 10 inch cake and have no box for it. BTW, if you’re not gifting this cake, a 10 inch one allows for a bigger message-writing surface.

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
  2. Use a springform pan to bake the cookie cake. It’s got a cleaner edge, looks more professional for gifting, and it’s easier to remove from the pan. You can use pie dishes or regular baking pans if you don’t have a springform pan. And, consider using a heart-shaped pan or any other unique shape. I have even baked these in pumpkin and Christmas tree shapes, and they’re super festive.
  3. Use parchment paper at the bottom of your springform pan for easy removal of the cookie after you’ve iced it. When you line the springform pan with parchment paper and it gets pinched into place, you will have some overhang. Trim around the bottom of the pan before baking and trim again after it’s baked and cool. Be careful that the cake doesn’t slide off and fall as you’re trimming around the finished product!

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
  4. Make sure you have different chocolate chip flavors on hand, like dark, semi-sweet, milk, white, butterscotch, and sea salt caramel. This way, you can customize each cookie cake for the recipient.
  5. Make sure you keep some of the chocolate chips for the top of the cake! Pressing in part of the chips on top of the cake prior to baking makes a big difference in how the finished cake looks. The chocolate chips will appear shiny and distinct in the final product. You can use a combination of chip flavors for different tastes and results. I especially like using mainly semi-sweet chocolate chips in the cookie dough (7/8 c) and using 2 tablespoons of butterscotch chips for the top.

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
  6. Use any frosting you want on top of the cake for decorating it. I am partial to the chocolate icing recipe included below because it contains a minimal amount of milk (you can sub plant-based milk), making it less of a worry when it comes to the cookie being left out of the fridge. If you decorate using buttercream, then you have to let the recipient know to keep the cake in the fridge.
  7. Make sure the frosting is not too thick! I have made that mistake once and never again. The icing has to come out of a piping bag easily and be able to ‘attract’ sprinkles so they stick to the frosting. I use the medium sized zip-lock bags fitted with a rosette tip.
  8. Make sure you ration out your frosting to decorate the whole cake! If you use a huge piping tip and make large rosettes, you might only have enough frosting to decorate the outside edge of the cake. I used a small rosette piping tip. To keep myself on track, I start out by piping rosettes about 2 inches apart, then go back and fill in between them. Then I do the same thing for an interior set of rosettes, and I stagger the inside set of rosettes. I keep going until I run out of frosting.

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
  9. Use store-bought icing to write messages and embellish your cake. The surface of the cake available for writing anything is very small. You don’t want to make a batch of icing to write a simple and short message. Or, just leave the center empty. The cake is sweet enough on its own.

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
  10. Use fun sprinkles! Again, this cake is not huge and you don’t need a ton of sprinkles, so go for the really fun and fancy kind if that’s what you want to do.
  11. Don’t forget to consider these options when it comes to making and decorating a cookie cake:
    * Use colored buttercream frosting to match a theme
    * Press M&Ms, Smarties, or toffee bits on top of the cake
    * Press mini Reese’s peanut butter cups on top
    * Drizzle melted chocolate chips on top instead of piped icing
    * Melt colored chocolate melts and drizzle on top
    * Ice the whole cookie cake, as if it’s a regular cake!
  12. Use curling ribbon or baker’s twine to tie the box shut. Decorate the outside with stickers or markers to include a fun message, or leave it plain and let the ribbons do the talking.

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
  13. Keep the cake in the box in the fridge while you’re waiting to deliver it. It lasts longer and the icing will stay intact during transport.
  14. Cut the cake into pie-shaped pieces using a sharp knife, or let guests break off pieces to enjoy.

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

I hope you are inspired to make a chocolate chip cookie cake as a gift! It’s really easy and it’s always an appreciated gift all around.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
(recipe from Garnish and Glaze)

For The Chocolate Chip Cookie

10 T unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c granulated sugar
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 c chocolate chips, divided

For The Chocolate Frosting

4 T unsalted butter, room temperature
2 T powdered cocoa
1 1/4 powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 T milk
Sprinkles, store-bought icing, etc for decorations

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Line the removable bottom of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with parchment paper and secure into place. Trim the excess parchment paper. If using a pie dish or cake pan, grease them first.
  • Cream the butter and sugars for two minutes, then add in the eggs and vanilla
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined
  • Add the chocolate chips by stirring them in with a spatula or wooden spoon, reserving 2 tablespoons of the chips to place on top of the cake
  • Spread the batter into the pan. Scatter and press the chips on top of the batter
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes depending on the size of your cake. Bake until slightly browned at the sides
  • For the frosting, mix the ingredients until well combined, starting out with 1 T of milk and adding a bit at a time until you get a smooth consistency
  • Use any tip you would like to pipe on the frosting and decorate with sprinkles
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Enjoy! And, please share the different ways you have decorated your chocolate chip cookie cake.

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4 Graduation Party Desserts To Celebrate Your Grad!

Graduation Desserts
Graduation Desserts

During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been bittersweet celebrating my daughter’s graduation from high school, but we’ve done our best to celebrate in many ways, including making as many sweet treats as possible!

We love dessert in our family and, yes, we understand the need to balance healthy food with yummy treats. But, what I”m sharing today is purely sugar based! The best part about making these celebratory desserts was searching for some of the ideas, choosing a theme (pink and blue), and decorating the house.

We received a lawn banner from the school and bought and received balloons as gifts. We decorated inside with balloons, garland, and streamers on archways in the house. And, one night I spent quite a bit of time going through old photos of the first day of school, group school photos, and other fun school and family moments. I put these on poster boards in the hallway and put up a long ‘congratulations’ banner underneath the boards. She absolutely loved this idea and the photos and boards are still up!

Celebrating 2020 Graduates
Celebrating 2020 Graduates

We were still in the ‘shelter at home’ phase when my daughter had her virtual graduation, so it was a nuclear family celebration. My daughter helped me make and decorate these dessert menu items, and we had a lot of fun decorating and catching up together.

Here are the Graduation Desserts we made: Continue reading

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Chocolate Almond Energy Bites – GF & Vegan

Chocolate Almond Energy Bites
Chocolate Almond Energy Bites

I always have energy balls or squares on hand because they’re the perfect snack right before a workout! Sometimes you don’t have time to eat something that takes a lot of prep time before you go for a run or before you head out the door. These chocolate almond bites are perfect as a grab-and-go healthy option.

BTW, you can also check out my recipe for Vegan Chocolate Fudge that I have shared in the past. The ‘fudge’ recipe is date-based whereas the recipe I’m sharing today is made with almond flour.

I’ve tried making energy balls with almond flour in the past and I love the texture and taste of almond flour, so I was very pleased when I came up with this recipe with the addition of cocoa powder.

Chocolate Almond Energy Bites
Chocolate Almond Energy Bites

What I like about making energy balls is the different ways you can ‘dress’ up these treats. Here, I’ve topped them with sea salt, peanuts, and slivered almonds. I highly recommend topping them with either peanuts or almonds  so everyone knows that these energy balls contain nuts! Plus, it’s a fun way to decorate these bites and to make them presentable for gifting.

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Sharing My Qatayef Recipe… Along With Sweet Ramadan Memories

Qatayef
Qatayef

Eid Mubarak to all of my friends and followers celebrating this week! Today marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. And, it’s time to celebrate with lots of traditional desserts, like Qatayef!

I grew up in Saudi Arabia where I was lucky enough to experience all of the activities, sights, sounds, and tastes of Ramadan. The night life in the souks was incredible, full of music, open shops, lots of fun foods, and lots of staying up late. One Ramadan night my brother was invited to hang out in a tent under the stars in the desert and I will always remember his description of how magical that experience was.

When I was a kid, Ramadan fell during the hottest months of the year but, because it’s a lunar holiday, it moves back about 11 days a year. That means that it takes about 33 years for Ramadan to complete its cycle and that some years it’s easier to fast than others. For example, the winter months are easier in that the days are shorter, and the summer months are the hardest.

There are many traditions around Ramadan, including the daily Iftar, which is the meal eaten after sunset when breaking the fast for the day. Iftar is a meal often shared with family and friends and there is always lots of food. I loved being invited to my friends’ homes for Iftar and just hanging out. In the Middle East, it’s very common to be invited to business Iftar meals as well. You always wonder what the host will serve and you almost always hope it includes qatayef!

Qatayef are similar to a pancake stuffed with cheese or nuts or ashta (a type of cream). Qatayef are traditionally fried and served with simple syrup and a sprinkling of nuts on top. The qatayef I’m sharing here are not fried because I wanted to keep things light. If you want them fried, shallow fry them in a pan or bake them in the oven after brushing them with some oil. I stuffed these qatayef with a mixture of crushed walnuts, sugar, and orange blossom water.

Qatayef Stuffed With Crushed Walnuts
Qatayef Stuffed With Crushed Walnuts

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How To Make Caramel Popcorn At Home!

Caramel Corn With Sprinkles
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles

Caramel popcorn is my favorite way to eat popcorn and, thank goodness, it’s very easy to make at home! As you know, I have a very sweet tooth, and this popcorn makes it to the top of the list for many reasons.

Caramel corn takes me right back to my childhood when one of my friend’s moms used to make it and sell it out of their house. I would treat myself to it after school on many occasions. Of course, caramel corn also has a nostalgic place in my heart because it reminds me of street fairs and festivals.

To make this caramel corn, I have to admit that I cheat a little bit with the recipe: I use micro-waved popcorn. It’s just easier and  you get to the end result quicker. Of course, it’s healthier and more economical to make it with fresh popcorn that you make in a pot or in a popcorn maker or air popper. But, microwaved popcorn works just as well.

The secret to making this recipe is the baking soda. It makes the caramel sauce foam up and that’s how it becomes easier to spread over more of the popcorn. It ‘grows’ in volume with the soda.

I’m kind of a plain Jane person with my caramel corn, adding sprinkles to it occasionally. You can add many other toppings like candy, pretzels, peanuts, chocolate chips, chocolate drizzle, etc. You decide!

Caramel Corn With Sprinkles
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles

Here’s how I made the Caramel Corn in these photos:

Caramel Corn

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of popped popcorn (or one 85g or 3 oz package of micro-wave popcorn)
  • 1/4 c butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 1/2 c dark brown sugar
  • 2 T white corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 T sprinkles

Method:

  • Prepare popcorn and place it in a large mixing bowl, leaving plenty of room to toss the popcorn with the caramel sauce. Make sure you remove any kernels.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup and stir until everything is melted together and combined well. It will start to bubble slightly on the sides.
  • Add the soda and vanilla and keep stirring until the mixture foams up. Stir and let it cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Quickly spread the caramel over the popcorn and toss with a spoon until all the popcorn is coated.
  • Add the sprinkles after the popcorn is fully coated and toss again.
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles

Notes:

  • To ensure you separate all the kernels out, I recommend you place the micro-wave popcorn in a bowl and give the bowl a few light tosses so that the kernels settle at the bottom. Use your hands to carefully lift out the popped corn, without any kernels, and place them in your large mixing bowl.
  • Do NOT leave the caramel on the stove while you go do other things. It will burn. And, once you add the vanilla and soda, the mixture may splatter from the vanilla, and it will foam from the soda. You cannot walk away!
  • Work quickly to spread the caramel over the big bowl of popcorn.
  • Do NOT use your hands to toss the caramel and popcorn together – the caramel mixture is super hot!
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles
Caramel Corn With Sprinkles

What have you added to your caramel corn? Comment below!

Enjoy!

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Hello Dollies…With Dates…And With Chocolate Chips

Hello Dollies With Dates
Hello Dollies With Dates

Hello Dollies are the one dessert we can all agree on…as long as I make two flavors!!

You may also know Hello Dollies as Magic Layer Bars or 7 Layer Magic Cookie Bars. The Hello Dolly name seems to be a reference to a scene from Hello Dolly on Broadway. You can read more in this article here.

The classic Hello Dollies recipe includes a graham cracker crust layered with chocolate chips, coconut flakes, nuts, and condensed milk. Eagle Brand shares their recipe on their site but I’m sharing a few twists here. These bars are absolutely delicious, decadent, and soo easy to make!!

Hello Dollies With Chocolate Chips And Butterscotch Chips
Hello Dollies With Chocolate Chips And Butterscotch Chips

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Easy And Delicious Banana Bread

Banana Bread
Banana Bread

Banana Bread recipes have got to be some of the most popular breads circulating on social media right now! Spending time at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic means that many of us are cooking and baking more. I have seen many versions and recipes of banana bread, but the one I’m sharing here is truly delicious!

I have no idea what recipe I followed prior to this one – that’s how good this recipe is. My dear friend made this banana bread for me one day when I went over to have coffee with her. It’s her mom’s recipe and I had to have it right away. It’s got 1/2 a cup of oil in it and uses no butter. I have to say that I’m not a fan of cakes that uses butter because I prefer the lightness and airiness of oil-based cakes.

It’s optional to add the walnuts, but I find it tastes that much better when you do add the nuts. Feel free to add a handful of mini chocolate chips into the batter. You can also add a sprinkle of coconut flakes or banana chips on top.

Banana Bread
Banana Bread

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The Best Carrot Cake, Ever!

Best Carrot Cake, Ever!
Best Carrot Cake, Ever!

Gonna brag, because my carrot cake recipe is truly world famous! Everyone who tastes it, loves it. It’s the most requested cake by my family and friends. It’s always the birthday cake of choice for my youngest daughter. And, when my neighbor found out he had to follow a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, the first thing he thought about was missing my carrot cake!

You know what they say about needing 10,000 hours to perfect something? Well, I’ve put in the hours because I’ve been making this cake since I was 15. My roommate in high school’s mom made this for us when we first visited and I had to have the recipe.

What makes this carrot cake delicious is the simplicity of the ingredients (the only add-ins are carrots; there are no pineapples, walnuts, raisins, or coconut) as well as the generous 2 cups of grated carrots. It’s also made with 2 cups of sugar, so it’s sweet and moist. I’ve tweaked the original recipe by using 1/2 a cup of yogurt and 1 cup of canola oil, instead of the 1 1/2 cups of oil the original recipe calls for. I think this makes the difference in how moist the cake is. You can, of course, use 1 1/2 cups of oil if you don’t have yogurt on hand (and, if you want to keep the cake portion dairy-free.)

Best Carrot Cake, Ever!
Best Carrot Cake, Ever!

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Easy Chocolate Bark!

Chocolate Bark
Chocolate Bark

There is nothing easier to make than chocolate bark, period. Chocolate bark is one of those desserts that you can make for any occasion: birthdays, holidays, graduations, confirmations, teacher gifts, office treats, hostess gifts, etc. All you need is baking chocolate and your choice of toppings. If you want to be extra fancy, you can use food coloring, different grades of chocolate, and unusual toppings.

With Passover and Easter this week, I thought I would post some fun recipes to make with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. This Easter white chocolate bark is made with Baker’s White Chocolate, Cadbury Mini Eggs, Sweetapolita Sprinkles, and fresh pistachios. It took about 15 minutes from start to finish. The hard part is waiting for it to firm up!

Chocolate Bark
Chocolate Bark

Here’s how I made this Easter-themed White Chocolate Bark.

Chocolate Bark Continue reading

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Vegan Chocolate Fudge – Made With Dates!!

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Made With Dates
Vegan Chocolate Fudge Made With Dates

My first taste of fudge was when I moved to North Carolina to attend boarding school, in my sophomore year of high school. It was then that I fell in love with this North American dessert, at first bite!

I have a major sweet tooth, and it’s satisfied by super sweet North American and Middle Eastern desserts like: Texas Pecan Fudge Pie a la mode (specifically from House of Pies in Houston), pralines, fudge, cookie dough, Hello Dollies, knafeh, baklava, nammoura, and super sweet meghli. The last four are Middle Eastern and I make most of them at home when I can. Look for the meghli recipe in the next few weeks.

But…I digress. These days, fudge comes in many forms and is used to describe many cooked as well as no-bake desserts. There are variations that include melting chocolate and adding a can of condensed milk. There are variations that include tahini and coconut oil, like this recipe that I have shared in the past. And, there are recipes that are made with dates as a base, like the one I’m sharing today. Continue reading

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