Tova’s been a little obsessed with chocolate chips lately, so when I asked her what kind of cake she wanted me to make for her birthday, of course she said she wanted a chocolate chip cake. I was excited when she said that, because: a) I love chocolate chips, too, and b) I’d get a chance to try a cake from Milk Bar that I hadn’t made yet (yes, these are things I get excited about!).
The recipe for the chocolate chip layer cake in Milk Bar is filled with a passion fruit curd, but I thought that was something that a 3-year-old probably wouldn’t appreciate, so I used the same liquid cheesecake filling that was used in the carrot cake that I made for my birthday last year, and I thought it was great in this cake. Although, really— is there anywhere that liquid cheesecake wouldn’t be great?
Tova also requested pink sprinkles on her cake, so I created a sprinkle butterfly on top of the cake, using a cookie cutter, filling the bottom with sprinkles, and then lightly pressing down on the sprinkles so that they stick to the frosting before removing the cutter (I used a toothpick to gently press down in the sprinkles that my fingers couldn’t reach in the tight spots of the cutter). Chaim wanted to know why everything I make is always butterfly shaped. Well, because I don’t have very many cookie cutters! I have a set of butterfly cutters, and a heart-shaped cutter, and that’s pretty much it (aside from some circle/fluted ones). I asked Tova if she wanted a butterfly or a heart, and she chose the butterfly. She loved watching me assemble this thing (and eating the cake scraps, of course!), and she was thrilled with her cake.
Notes: Unlike the rest of the components of this cake, the coffee frosting MUST be made just before assembling the cake. Everything else can be made ahead of time.
You can see photos for assembling a Milk Bar cake at the bottom of THIS post.
Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Cheesecake Filling and Coffee Frosting
(You will only need half of this recipe for the cake, but the extras are great for munching on!)
105 g (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
4 g (1 teaspoon) cornstarch
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
65 g (2/3 cup) dark cocoa powder
4 g (1 teaspoon) kosher salt
85 g (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until combined.
3. Add the butter, and mix on low speed until you get small clusters.
4. Spread onto the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, occasionally breaking the clusters up with a spatula or wooden spoon.
5. Let the crumbs cool completely (they will dry and harden as they cool). If not using right away, you can store these in an airtight container or bag for a week at room temperature or a month in the fridge or freezer.
Makes 2 1/2 cups
225 g (8 ounces) cream cheese
150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
6 g (1 tablespoon) cornstarch
2 g (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
25 g (2 tablespoons) whole milk
1 large egg
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar is completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream. Whisk in the egg until everything is thoroughly combined.
4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg mixture. Paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. Line the bottom and sides of a 6″x6″ baking pan with plastic wrap (I used a 6″ round Pyrex, and had to bake it a bit longer, but it worked fine). Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firmer and more set at the edges, but still jiggly and loose in the center. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, cake for 5 minute intervals until it is done. If the cheesecake rises more than 1/4 inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately. Cool completely before using.
The cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Makes about 325 g ( 1 1/2 cups)
Chocolate Chip Cake
115 g (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 g ( 1 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
60 g (1/4 cup, tightly packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs
110 g (1/2 cup) buttermilk
75 g (1/2 cup) grapeseed oil
12 g (1 tablespoon) pure vanilla extract
185 g (1 1/2 cups) cake flour
4 g (1 teaspoon) baking powder
4 g (1 teaspoon) kosher salt
150 g (3/4 cup) mini chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a quarter-sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray, and line the pan with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat on medium-high for another 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. With the mixer on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Turn the speed up to medium-high, and beat for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is very pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix on very low speed for about a minute, until the dry ingredients have just been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and if you see any flour that hasn’t been mixed in, mix for another 45 seconds.
5. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chip evenly over the top.
6. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the center of the cake is no longer jiggling and the edge of the cake bounces back slightly if you gently poke it with your finger.
7. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
The cake can be kept, tightly wrapped in plastic, in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Makes 1 quarter sheet cake
(As mentioned above, this frosting must be made just before assembling the cake!)
115 g (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
40 g (1/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar
55 g (1/4 cup) whole milk
1.5 g (3/4 teaspoon) instant coffee powder
1 g (1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, instant coffee, and salt.
3. Scrape down the sided of the mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on low speed, and add a very tiny bit of the coffee mixture. You need to add the coffee mixture in very little at a time, because you are forcing the liquid to combine with the fat. Once the first bit is completely incorporated, add a tiny bit more of the coffee mixture and mix until incorporated. Keep doing this until all the coffee mixture is incorporated into the butter. I found that after each addition, if I beat it low for a bit, and then turned the mixer up for a bit, it incorporated a little easier. This frosting does take a little while to make, so just try to be patient—you can’t rush it!
Makes about 22 g (1 cup)
Assembling the Chocolate Chip Layer Cake
1 recipe Chocolate Chip Cake (above)
About 1/4 cup whole milk
1 recipe Liquid Cheesecake (above)
1/2 recipe Chocolate Crumb
1 recipe Coffee Frosting (above)
1 6-inch cake ring
2 (3″ by 20″) acetate strips
1. Put a piece of parchment on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment. (If the cake is stuck to the sides of the pan, go around the edge of the pan with a knife to loosen it.) Use the cake ring to cut out 2 circles from the cake, as if you were using a giant cookie cutter. These will be your two cake layers. The bottom cake layer will be made from the remaining scraps.
2. Clean the cake ring and place it on a clean piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan or cutting board. Line the inside of the cake ring with one acetate strip.
3. Put the cake scraps into the ring, and use the back of your hand to push the scraps into an even layer.
4. Using a pastry brush, apply a nice soaking of milk to the top of the cake layer (not too much, or it can leak out of the bottom of the cake!).
5. Using a spoon, spread half of the liquid cheesecake over the cake.
6. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the chocolate, and use your fingers to pat them in place.
7. Use a spoon to spread 1/3 of the coffee frosting over the chocolate crumbs. It’s a little hard to spread this over the cheesecake and crumbs, put just dollop it on and spread as best as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
8. With your index finger, gently tuck the second acetate strip between the cake ring and the top 1/4 of the first strip, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall. Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for the first layer—milk, the rest of the liquid cheesecake, half of the remaining chocolate crumbs, and half of the remaining frosting.
9. Top with the remaining cake round, and cover with the last of the frosting. Sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate crumbs.
10. Cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the freezer. Freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake can remain frozen like this for up to 2 weeks.
11. At least 3 hours before you want to serve the cake, remove the cake from the freezer. Using your fingers and thumbs (pushing on the bottom of the cake to push it up), pop the cake out of the cake ring. gently peel off the acetate strips, and transfer the cake to a cake stand or serving platter. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours.
The cake can be kept in the fridge, wrapped well in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.
Makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake