This is the third installment in the Baking Broadway series. Since Broadway is currently closed until early June, I’m partnering with Broadway Roulette for this mini baking series to bring Broadway to your kitchen while we’re all social distancing!
Company is a Tony-award winning musical featuring a 35-year old who, surrounded by couple friends, doesn’t want to settle down. (As a barely sub-30 year old who has been quarantining solo, no plot line has ever felt so relevant.) The current Broadway production has genderswapped the original male protagonist, so the musical features female protagonist Bobbie navigating through a series of vignettes with friends and past flames, all linked by her 35th birthday celebration.
I’ve only seen a handful of musicals, so I’ve really had to lean on some of my Broadway fan friends to help me brainstorm ideas for this series. Of all the musicals I’ve researched for this baking series, Company and Six are probably among the top two I can’t wait to see once Broadway re-opens!
So this is a modern re-imagining of Bobbie’s birthday cake in the form of one of those trendy Number Cakes topped with a vibrant array of macarons and flowers. (Except I nixed the finicky macarons for cookie and brownie scraps.)
I’ve been lusting after the aesthetic of these gorgeous flowery cakes but resistant to purchase a specialty cake pan to bake a number-shaped cake (or baking a whole 9×13 pan of cake to trim out a number also seemed wasteful). With a cookie cake base, however, it’s much easier to bake a cookie in a freeform shape and then trim it down to size.
Whenever I’m baking for a friend’s birthday, I’m often struck with indecision (and sometimes short on time to make a full layer cake). This was such a fun, delicious and pretty project that I think this might be my go-to birthday gift treat in the future!
How to Customize Your Number Cake
This is more of a Number Cake guide than a strict recipe. Here are a few tips for substitutions and changes:
- To scale down: This recipe yields two very large cookies (equivalent to a batch of 16 cookies), enough to feed a crowd of 16+. If you’re baking for a smaller crowd, just halve the recipe and scale the cookie shapes accordingly.
- Cookie cake base: The cookie cake base is a double batch of Oh Ladycakes’ coconut oil chocolate chip cookies (one of my favorites from the vegan chocolate chip cookie bake off). I chose it for its doughy and soft texture, but you can use any cookie dough you like for the base.
- Buttercream: I used a basic vanilla buttercream (where you can easily use either regular or vegan butter), but you could add cocoa powder to make it a chocolate buttercream or use any favorite buttercream recipe!
- Organic powdered sugar: To avoid an overly sweet buttercream, I learned a great tip from Buttermilk by Sam to use organic powdered sugar, which is less sweet! It really does make a huge difference in taste.
- Frosting the cake: To get the signature frosting dollops in a Number Cake, I used this reusable frosting applicator paired with a round frosting tip, but you can even use a plastic bag paired with a round tip (or possibly with no tip at all?? Not sure if that would work) to do the piping if needed.
If you need to bake any birthday treats during quarantine, I hope this inspires you to try a Number Cake in honor of Bobbie!
Bobbie’s 35th Birthday Cookie Cake
For the Cookie Cake:
- 1 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2/3 cup refined coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/2 cup almond milk, room temperature
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 sticks butter (8 oz or 1 cup) or vegan butter, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar (organic preferred)
- 2-4 tablespoons milk (any kind)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch fine kosher salt
Cookie Cake Topping Ideas
- Fruit: sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, chopped kiwi or mango
- Candy: malt balls, chopped Kit Kats, Hershey bars, M&Ms, Reese's, Snickers, etc
- Chocolate-dipped or drizzled chunks of brownie or cookie cake trimmings
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in the coconut oil until well combined. Add the almond milk (microwave for 15-20 seconds if it's cold from the fridge) and vanilla; whisk to combine.
- Add the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda and gently stir until just combined with a spatula. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Divide dough in half. You can either eyeball this, or weigh it out–half the dough should weigh about 525 grams.
- Form each dough half into a rough shape of your desired numbers. Keep in mind that your cookies will spread quite a bit, so keep the holes fairly generous.
- Bake for 17 minutes or until puffed and brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before using a sharp knife to trim the edges into your desired shape. Reserve cookie trimmings if desired to decorate the cake later. Let cool completely.
For the buttercream:
- Cream the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and cream until smooth. Thin with 2-4 tablespoons of milk, as needed until desired consistency is reached (you'll want a stiffer but still pliable frosting). Add vanilla and salt and mix until combined.
- Use a frosting applicator or frosting bag fitted with a large round tip. (You can use any piping tip, but the round tip will yield the more typical look.) Pipe blobs of frosting onto the cooled cookie cake. If using sprinkles, I recommend sprinkling them on top right away so they stick better.
- If time allows, let frosting set for 20-30 minutes before adding additional toppings. You can use this time to decorate some cookie cake scraps to add on top. Cake is best enjoyed immediately.