Colorful, trendy number cakes or letter cakes are easy to make with this shaping method, no specialty pans required!
If you’ve seen those trendy number cakes or letter cakes, you know how cute they are! But if you don’t like investing in single-use pans or kitchen tools, there’s an easy way to make a gorgeous number cake without any specialty tools!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Efficient: Not only is there no need to purchase a specialty cake pan, you also won’t be left with a ton of cake trimmings. Using a cookie base makes it much easier to bake a freeform shape and trim it down to size!
- Great for groups: As long as you have a large box, these cookie cakes are easy to transport and perfect for cutting up into many pieces for a group.
- Economical: these specialty cakes can be pricey! For the price of a few homemade cookies and frosting, you can easily make a professional-looking version at home.
- Brown sugar: You can use a mixture of brown and white if you’d like a slightly lighter hue
- Cornstarch: This helps provide a thick and soft texture to the cookie base. If you don’t have it, I’d recommend omitting it and adding 2 additional tablespoons of flour to make up for the volume.
- Refined coconut oil: Refined coconut oil is a great neutral substitute for butter, though you can use unrefined coconut oil if you want a coconut flavor. If you’d like to keep the cookie dough vegan, plant-based butter or another neutral oil like vegetable, canola, grapeseed or avocado oil are acceptable substitutes (though your cookie texture will be softer if using an oil). If you don’t need to keep the cake vegan, feel free to use butter here.
- Almond milk: This acts as a dough binder instead of eggs. You can use any kind of milk in place of the almond milk.
How to make a number cake or letter cake
There’s just a few simple steps to make a homemade number cookie cake:
- Make the cookie dough and shape it into the numbers or letters you like on a cookie sheet. The dough will spread, so make the numbers or letters a little skinnier than ideal to account for spread.
- Once the cookie dough is baked, let it cool for just 5 minutes so you don’t burn yourself. Using a knife, gently trim away any excess dough to clean up the shape of your numbers or letters. Let your cake cool completely to firm up the shape.
- I like to use a plain piping tip to pipe the frosting onto the cooled cake before topping with candy and fruit. If you don’t have piping equipment, try putting the frosting in a plastic bag. Snip a corner off and use the bag as a makeshift piping bag!
Tips and Tricks
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). 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. (This was 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 for the base.
- Buttercream: I used a basic vanilla buttercream (you can easily use regular or vegan butter). You can add cocoa powder to make it a chocolate buttercream or use any favorite buttercream recipe!
- Organic powdered sugar: To avoid an overly sweet buttercream, Buttermilk by Sam uses 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, I used this reusable frosting applicator with a round frosting tip. You may be able to use a plastic bag paired with a round tip to do the piping if needed.
If you need to bake any celebration treats, I hope this inspires you to try a number cake!
To make this cookie cake, no! You can simply shape the cookie dough in the shape you like on a cookie sheet. Once it’s baked, you can trim it down to the exact shape you like. Trim the cookie while it’s still warm (but not hot!) for the cleanest, easiest cuts.
I chose a soft vegan chocolate chip cookie dough because I like the soft, doughy texture. You can use any cookie dough recipe you like, but I recommend a softer, doughier textured cookie rather than a thin and crisp cookie. A thick sugar cookie like this would also be great!
Yes! You can make this cookie dough up to a week in advance, stored in the fridge in an airtight container. You’ll likely need to let the cookie dough warm up for a few minutes at room temperature before shaping it.
The cake will be best the day it’s baked, so I recommend baking, decorating and serving on the same day. You can make the cookie a day beforehand and store it in an airtight container if you’re short on time. Once decorated, the cake will last 1-2 days stored in the fridge (the frosting will start to soften the cookie).
How to Make a Number 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.
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