Is it a Pizza? Is it a Cookie? No, it's a pizza cookie cake!

Every now and then, usually while I’m in the midst of decorating a cake or planning a dessert to bring to a family gathering, my mind wanders off into a daydream. There I am, dream me, absorbed in the process of swirling buttercream onto 3 dozen cupcakes or rolling out sugar cookies for baking – except, in my daydream, I’m not baking them for myself or to bring with me to L’s Christmas dinner. No, I’m being paid to do this. A neighbor, a friend, a friend of a friend of a friend – someone has hired me to partially cater their graduation party, their birthday, their retirement celebration. I’ve worked with them on choosing the food, and now I’m doing what I love, sharing it with other people, and, admittedly, earning a little bit of extra money for my efforts. I have always wanted to be recruited for small events here or there, which is one of the reasons why I’m working so diligently on improving my cookie decorating technique and finding my standard recipes for go-to items like vanilla cupcakes, chocolate birthday cake and, of course, sugar cookies. I can’t exactly expect people to pay me for cake that I don’t have a recipe for, or cookies that I don’t know how to make look beautiful.

Well, my daydream has, kind of, in a way, sort of come true! For the first time ever, someone tasted my dessert, loved it, and paid me to make a full batch for their family. My fee was nominal – I barely covered the cost of ingredients – but I was so excited just to have a “client” that I didn’t care.

This recipe chocolate chip cookies is what I baked for them. Originally, the recipe is intended to be turned into a cookie cake, which is exactly how I made it on my first go around. I brought it into work one day after having decorated it to look like a classic cheese pizza (with some adorable regular cookies on the side made from the extra batter), and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. The cookie cake was soft and rich, as it should be, and the sweetness from the icing was a welcome (though not necessary, I admit) addition.

I do have some notes on this recipe. First of all, if you do choose to frost the cookies or cookie cake, know that the icing will mask the nuances of the almond extract from the dough. This doesn’t make it bad, but it is something to consider. Second of all, letting the baked cookies/cake cool at least 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge is absolutely critical. I tried to shortcut the system the second time around, and the cookies completely fell apart. Letting them sit for those 10 minutes helps them firm up; don’t worry, they’ll still be soft when you bite into them, as any good cookie cake should be.  Lastly, when I had leftover dough from the cake, I portioned the extra out into muffin tins rather than free-form on a cookie sheet. I will eventually try them as drop cookies, but I have to say, baking them into muffin tins leaves you with some pretty adorable saucer cookies, with a perfect thickness and consistency. I put maybe 1-1 ½ tablespoons dough in each tin (though I didn’t actually measure them) and patted them down to be even and flat; you want the dough to just barely coat the bottom. They puff up when you bake them (which only takes 8-10 minutes, by the way, so watch out if you’re doing a cake-cookie combo that you don’t leave them in for the same amount of time).

Aside from that, these cookies are phenomenal! I don’t know if they’ll be my go-to regular chocolate chip cookies, and I certainly have some more experimenting to do (can you say white whole wheat flour??), but I have at least found the base for all future cookie cakes in the Floptimism kitchen.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake / Saucer Cookies, courtesy of Chico’s Kitchen
Yield: 1 10-inch cookie cake or 1 9-inch cake + 1 dozen cookies or 3 dozen cookies

The Ingredients
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg

The Method
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease (cooking spray is fine) the appropriate cake and muffin tins, depending on whether or not you’d like a cake or individual cookies. Note that if you’re using the muffin tins and making cookies, you will want as close to 3 separate pans as possible, so that you don’t have to wait to bake the 2nd or 3rd dozen while the 1st cools in the pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt (if using) in a medium bowl, then set aside. Meanwhile, cream the butter, sugar, and both extracts on medium speed, roughly 1 minute or until well mixed. Increase the speed to high for 15 seconds, then scrape down the bowl and add in the egg. Mix on medium for 30 seconds. Add in the dry ingredients on low speed until just incorporated, with some streaks of flour remaining. Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips, again taking care not to overmix.

For cookie cakes, scrape the batter into a 10-inch pan (or, scrape roughly 2/3 of the batter into a 9-inch pan) and pat down so that the dough is in an even layer. You can flute the edges a little, if desired. For individual cookies, press 1-1 ½ tablespoons of dough into the bottom of each greased muffin well, also taking care to even the dough out as much as possible.

Bake cakes for 18-22 minutes and cookies for 8-10, removing from the oven when lightly golden and puffy. At this point, the centers will still feel very soft; this is okay. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before running a paring knive around the edge to loosen the cake or cookies. Continue to cool in the pan, loosened, for several hours before turning the dessert out onto a serving platter or storage container.

If decorating the cake or cookies, allow to cool completely before beginning. Use royal icing for a frosting that will harden, or a fluffier buttercream for a more traditional cookie cake look. To make the pizza cookie cake, use red-dyed royal icing at a consistency slightly thicker than you would use to flood, and drizzle it all over the cake, save for a ½-inch border around the edge for the crust. Drizzle until the red icing has more or less covered the cake, and allow to firm up for roughly 10 minutes (I stuck mine in the fridge). Drizzle white royal icing on top of the still-slightly-gooey red to create the “cheese” layer, allowing the white to blend into the red a little. Use shorter, erratic movements to get the look of melted shredded cheese. Optionally, top with yellow granulated sprinkles and fondant toppings for more exciting pizza “flavors.”

As a side note, please forgive the sketchy pictures. I decorated the cake and cookies at 9pm in L's basement. Needless to say, I was both tired and in abysmal lighting when the photoshoot took place. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!



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