Y’all. I’M BACK. And I could not be happier about it. The past six weeks have seen a number of unexpected twists and turns, to say the least, prompting my little P2P hiatus. In a matter of nine days in early December, just as Christmas was approaching, I had been 1) unexpectedly sent to the middle-of-nowhere Arizona alone for work for an indefinite period of time; 2) immediately thrown into the mix working on my first congressional recount already in progress; 3) robbed of my entire DC holiday-season social calendar (I mean how EVER would I survive?); and 4) notified that our landlord was moving back from Australia and wanted us out of our house in 30 days (yes, even though I was across the country and my roommates and I would all be gone for two weeks over the holidays). Oh, and to top it all off, 5) I had my lips bitten off by a dog in a freak accident during a weekend trip to Phoenix while I was out there. Yes – ER, plastic surgeon, drinking meals through a straw for two weeks and all. And the worst part? I couldn’t bake for the ENTIRE twelve days I was there. Ok, maybe that wasn’t actually the worst part, but it definitely didn’t make things any easier.
So yeah, there was some relative upheaval in my life at that moment, but ya know what? I don’t know how or why, but I somehow managed to avoid any semblance of a nervous breakdown. I surprisingly took everything that was being thrown at me in stride (I mean we’re talking cracking jokes while my lips were hanging off my face in the ER – I shocked even myself), and it actually ended up being such a positive experience! I got some amazing on-the-ground work experience (we won the recount!), made some great friends out there in the process (ASnieg and ZFort, you know you miss me), and am now writing this post from a gor-geous new apartment (y’all – this kitchen) that we were fortunate enough to move into. I just have to laugh recalling my sweet friend Lucy’s real-talk comment, “Hey remember when you thought your life was over because you were missing those Christmas parties?” Ha, girl was so on point. I mean, perspective. I guess it’s true that if you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans. Evidently mine were a riot, because they were outright derailed. He does everything for a reason, though (yes, even crazy dog bites to the face), and never gives you anything you can’t handle. Except maybe this cake, because I really just. can’t. handle. this cake.
Since I owe y’all bigtime for having fallen off the grid for so long, I’m comin’ in hot with some bigtime baking – of the brownie and Biscoff variety to be exact. This was SO fun to make. It was definitely a process and took some time, but I felt like I was actually creatively constructing something. Since I didn’t know exactly how it was going to come out (I swear baking is the only aspect of my life in which improvising is sincerely enjoyable), it was fun to see it all come together step by step, until – boom – this ridiculous looking cake appeared in front of me. Nevermind the fact that the flavors are outright insane, this thing just looked SO good. However much fun this brownie and Biscoff cookie dough concoction was to put together, though, I’m not gonna lie – it was even more fun to eat.
I’ve heard all the rage about cookie butter, so when I finally came across some Biscoff spread at World Market, I immediately plopped it in my cart (right next to this to-die-for fur throw I found for my new room and some fun GOP-themed elephant mugs. World Market is seriously heaven on earth.) and eagerly awaited the perfect opportunity to try it out. I knew I wanted something dark, decadent and over-the-top for my first P2P post of 2015, so when I saw a couple brownie and cookie dough layer cake recipes on Life, Love & Sugar (woman is a genius), I knew what I had to do. Brownie and Biscoff Cookie Dough Layer Cake. Done.
This thing is comprised of three layers of perfectly chewy, perfectly chocolatey brownies (not too rich, too cakey or too fudgy) with layers of rich Biscoff cookie dough and chocolate ganache stuffed in between. You bake the brownie layers just like you would a cake, and then use the baking pans to mold the cookie dough into a uniform disc shape right on the cooled brownie. Minus swapping out the peanut butter for Biscoff, I followed the step-by-step instructions Lindsay lays out in the recipe pretty much exactly. She really did a great job of simplifying the whole process, which makes this bad boy totally doable. These flavors together are unreal, and the different textures add some excitement to every bite. There’s the chewy brownie; the rich, soft cookie dough; the smooth and gooey chocolate ganache; and brownie crumbles and chocolate chips to top it all off. Like I said, un.real. As an added bonus, I made some mini Biscoff Cookie Dough Brownie Bites out of some of the leftover brownie batter. I had been needing to test brownie bite recipes for an upcoming wedding I’m baking for (my first one!), so multi-tasking was key.
I couldn’t be happier with how this beauty turned out. I can also assure you that the throngs of taste testers totally agreed. This might be a new P2P staple, and I’m definitely going to try out this recipe with other brownie and cookie dough flavor combos (I’m dying to try out the cake batter version!).
After finally having gotten back in the kitchen and writing this first post since my little life upheaval, I’m realizing how much I’ve missed y’all and P2P! Baking (and blogging to share it with you wonderful people) has definitely become a big part of my life, adding so much and keeping me so happy (and – let’s be real – sane). Even the quote in my WordPress Admin platform currently says “It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.” Similarly, after now having tasted this cake, I’m realizing I’ve been missing it literally all my life. You probably should make this ASAP and avoid making the same mistake. Part of you will love it, part of you will hate it, and part of you will hate to love it, but trust me – it’s so worth it. Happy 2015, y’all! So happy to be back. xo
Brownie & Biscoff Cookie Dough Layer Cake (adapted ever-so-slightly from Life, Love & Sugar)
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3-4 tbsp milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
Biscoff Cookie Butter Frosting:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup Biscoff spread (or cookie butter of choice)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp water or milk
Brownie crumbles (for topping if your heart so desires)
Mini chocolate chips (for topping if your heart so desires)
1. Brownies: Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottoms of three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides with butter (I used 6-inch pans. See note at the end of the recipe!). Mix together the oil, sugar and vanilla extract, then add the eggs and mix until well-combined. Next, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, slowly adding it to the egg mixture until well-combined. Pour the batter evenly into three pans, spreading it evenly in each. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. Remove brownies from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling. While the brownies cool, go ahead and tackle your Biscoff cookie dough!
2. Biscoff Cookie Dough: Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Mix in Biscoff and vanilla extract, and then, with the mixer on low speed, add the flour. Add milk gradually, to your preferred thickness. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. The dough will be thick. Set aside.
3. Cake Assembly: Once the brownies have cooled, it’s time to put it all together. Place half of chocolate chips in a metal bowl. Microwave half of the heavy cream until it starts to boil, then remove from microwave and pour over chocolate chips, immediately covering the bowl with saran wrap for 5-7 minutes. Whisk the chocolate and the cream until smooth.
Using one of the same cake pans that you baked the brownies in, put parchment paper or saran wrap in the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You’re going to use it to lift the layers out of the pan after they’re shaped. Place the first brownie into the bottom of the pan. Add about 3 tbsp of chocolate ganache on top of the brownie and spread into a thin layer, avoiding the edges of the brownie so that it doesn’t spill over when you mold the cookie dough on top. The ganache will help the cookie dough stick to the brownie. Put half of the cookie into the pan and spread evenly on top of the brownie so that it molds into the shape of the pan. Remove the first two layers from the cake pan and place on it’s serving dish.
Repeat this process with the second brownie and remaining cookie dough, then remove from pan. Put another 3 tbsp of chocolate ganache on top of the cookie dough layer from the first section of cake and spread thinly. Place the second section of cake onto the first, adding another 3 tbsp of chocolate ganache on top of the cookie dough layer on top, and spreading thinly. Finally, top with the remaining brownie.
4. Cake Garnish: Now bring it on home with the finishing touches! Place the remaining chocolate chips in a metal bowl to prepare the final batch of chocolate ganache. Microwave the remaining heavy cream until it starts to boil, and then remove from microwave and pour over chocolate chips. Immediately cover the bowl with saran wrap for 5-7 minutes. Whisk chocolate and cream until smooth. Allow it to sit for a few minutes until it just starts to thicken, then pour over the top of the cake.
Place cake in refrigerator and make the Biscoff icing. To make the icing, beat the shortening and butter together until smooth. Add the Biscoff and mix until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth, gradually adding the milk until you reach your desired consistency. Remove cake from fridge, and pipe the icing onto the top edges of the cake and sprinkle with brownie crumbles and/or mini chocolate chips, if desired.
Note: I made a 3-layer, 6-inch cake, and used the leftover batter for brownie bites. If using 6-inch pans, bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs.