Who doesn’t love cookie cake? A big, thick slice of soft and chewy cookie topped with frosting or dairy-free ice cream is my idea of the perfect dessert. And it’s easy to bake at home. In fact, I think my dairy-free chocolate chip cookie cake recipe rivals Mrs. Fields and the Great American Cookie Company! It’s soft but chewy, perfectly sweetened, and neighborhood-approved.
The Perfect Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Believe it or not, mastering a good dairy-free chocolate chip cookie cake recipe isn’t that simple. Cookie recipes don’t always transition perfectly into cake or bar format. But this version works wonderfully and is quite versatile. I’ve even covered ingredient and pan options and have answers for your cookie cake FAQs.
Is this a Cake or a Cookie?
It’s basically a thick cookie baked in a cake shape that you can decorate. So it’s more on the cookie side. You can bake it thicker, with the tips below, but it will still be more soft, dense, and gooey like a tall Tollhouse cookie rather than fluffy like a cake.
Will this Recipe Work as a Layered Cookie Cake?
It does! First, make sure the cookie cake layers are completely cool. Carefully remove the parchment from one layer, and place it on a serving plate. Frost the top. Carefully remove the parchment from the second layer, and place it on top of the frosting. Decorate the top with the frosting. The dairy-free vanilla buttercream frosting recipe with this dairy-free chocolate chip cookie cake does make enough for a two layer cookie birthday cake if you aren’t frosting the sides.
Is it Better to Bake Two Smaller Cookies Cakes or One Bigger One?
I prefer to bake it as two standard 8-inch cakes (or 7-inch for thicker), because it easily portions into perfectly-sized “cake” wedges. The image below shows the thickness when baked in two roughly 8.5-inch pans, which is about a 1/2-inch. Larger cookie pizzas are difficult to serve as slices, because you have to cut them very thin and narrow. Cookie is more fragile than pizza crust! That’s why many people end up cutting the larger cookie cakes into squares.
Can you Make this Cookie Cake on a Baking Sheet?
Yes, I have made it on a regular baking sheet. It does spread a little, and makes more of a cookie pizza, but is still delicious. Simply pat the dough into a round that’s about 1/2-inch thick and bake as directed. Use a regular pan and not a baking stone. We tried it on a baking stone and the underside was undercooked while the top toasted up.
Will Square or Rectangular Pans Work?
A 9×13-inch pan works great if you want one big rectangular cake. It has about the same area as a 12-inch round pizza pan. One 9-inch square pan or two 8×6-inch rectangular pans will also work great if you want a slightly thicker dairy-free cookie cake. Two 8-inch square pans can also work, but the cakes will be very thin.
Can I Use Butter Flavor Shortening or Plant Butter?
You can definitely use butter flavor shortening. I just prefer to bake with non-hydrogenated shortening, but Crisco products also work well. I do not like to use buttery spreads or plant-based butter alternative in this recipe because it causes the cookie cake to be a little greasier. Butter alternatives contain both oil and water, which can separate a bit when baking dense sweets. The water moisture can also affect how well they keep.
Why Do You Blend the Salt with the Wet Ingredients?
So many home cooks use salt that’s coarser than the very fine salt we grew up with. I like to blend it with the wet ingredients to help it dissolve more before baking. When added with the dry ingredients, little bursts of salt often remain in dense baked goods. This recipe is purposely lighter on salt than many others. If you want to bump up the flavor a smidgen, you can use 3/8 teaspoon salt. I tested with 1/2 teaspoon, and it was a little too salty for my tasters.
Why Does this Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Use Egg?
Just one egg really improves the texture of this cookie cake and also helps to prevent greasy dough. It emulsifies the ingredients together and helps to retain the right balance of moisture and lift. You can use our Egg Substitute Guide if you want a vegan cookie cake, but I highly recommend using the egg if you can. If you confuse eggs with dairy, you’re not alone! See this post: Are Eggs Dairy?
What Chocolate Chips do You Recommend?
I use Enjoy Life Mini Chips when baking this chocolate chip cookie cake. They’re allergy-friendly, and I prefer mini chips since they disperse best in this style of cookie. For something a little different, you can use their White Mini Chips, or a combination of the two. If you opt to use regular-sized morsels, I would make the thicker version of this cookie cake.
Special Diet Notes: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian. Just be sure to choose the shortening and chocolate chips that suit your dietary needs.
For egg-free and vegan cookie cake, see our Egg Substitute Guide. With egg substitutes, there will be a slight change in the texture, and you might see a little more greasiness with the dough.
For gluten-free cookie cake, I would recommend trying an all-purpose gluten-free baking blend, like King Arthur Measure for Measure. We haven’t tested this yet, but a friend swears by that product for nearly all baked recipes. I do recommend using the egg, rather than an egg substitute, if using gluten-free flour.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup shortening (I use Spectrum)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup dairy-free mini chocolate chips, or more if desired (I use Enjoy Life Mini Chips)
- In a mixing bowl, beat ¼ cup dairy-free butter alternative (can sub shortening), ½ tablespoon plain dairy-free milk beverage, and ¾ teaspoon vanilla flavoring or extract with a hand mixer until smooth. Gradually add 1¼ cups powdered sugar, and beat on low until combined. Once combined, beat on medium or high for 1 minute. If it is too thick, add an additional splash of milk beverage, as needed.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and line 2 (8-inch) cake pans or 1 (12-inch) pizza pan with a square piece of parchment paper. You want the corners to come up just a little bit. (See below for Pan Size and Thickness Options.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the shortening, sugars, egg, vanilla, and salt until creamy.
- Add the dry ingredients to your mixing bowl, and mix or stir to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Press the cookie dough evenly into your prepared pan(s).
- Bake the cookie cake(s) for 10 to 14 minutes. At 10 minutes it will be more doughy, and at 14 minutes it will be more crispy chewy. The cookie cakes in the photos above were baked for about 13 minutes.
- Let the cookie cake(s) cool in the pans.
- Once cool or mostly cool, run a knife around the edge, if needed, and lift the cookie cake out using the corners of the parchment. Place it on a cutting board or surface to cut, or carefully remove the parchment and place it on a serving platter.
- The cookie cake can be stored covered at room temperature for a few days or frozen for longer storage. Once frosted, store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter alternative, ½ tablespoon milk beverage, and vanilla with a hand mixer until smooth.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating on low until combined. Once combined, beat on medium or high for 1 minute. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk beverage, 1 teaspoon at a time, as needed.
- Pipe the frosting onto your cookie cake(s). It is enough to decorate the edges and centers or to spread on the tops.
- Store the frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It can be frozen.
My daughter wanted a cookie cake and this turned out perfect! Big hit!
So happy to hear this! Thanks for the feedback Kristi.
Could I use dairy free butter instead of shortening?
See the FAQs in the post above. I discuss using “plant butter” in more detail, and why I don’t use it. It outlines what problems could occur – just so you know ahead of time!
Can we sub the shortening for oils or coconut oil?
Hi Christine, I have tested making cookie cake with oil on several occasions, and it does come out greasier and crispier. I don’t recommend making that swap for this type of recipe. Technically, the shortening I used, Spectrum, is just palm oil (Nutiva should also work well, which is palm and coconut oils). But it functions better than coconut oil in baking since it has been stabilized to remain thick rather than becoming oily and separating. To use a liquid oil, I might suggest reducing the oil a bit, and adding another moist ingredient, as needed, to get the right cookie dough consistency. Adding moisture will mean that the cookie cake won’t stay fresh quite as long.