Sunday, May 20, 2012

"We bake cake and nothing's the matter!"

"Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter! We bake cake! And nothing's the matter!"
                                                        from In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, 1970

In September 2009, I decided I needed an official food blog to keep track of my progress in the BBA Challenge. I'd had a mommy blog for a while, and initially I thought I'd just post my baking adventures there, but after a few posts, I determined that I actually wanted a new space that was dedicated to talking and writing about food. At that point, my little guy was 2 1/2 and the baby was just over a year. My little guy had just started expressing an interest in helping me in the kitchen, and one of his favorite books at the time was one of my favorite books from childhood, In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak.

When Di invited me to participate in her newest seasonal blog event, cooking the books, I immediately knew what I wanted to do. While I do, in fact, read cookbooks like novels, which is what inspired Di for this blogging event, I thought I'd use this opportunity to talk about my blog's name...something I've never written about.

"He kneaded and punched it and pounded and pulled
Till it looked okay."
                                                            from In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, 1970

Choosing a blog name is such a big decision (at least for me). In many ways, the name becomes your identity online, and even though it's possible to change it, it's likely that the name you choose is the one you'll have forever. Hubby and I debated and brainstormed for days, but I couldn't commit to anything. Finally, as hubby was reading In the Night Kitchen to the little guy one night, he looked over and said, "What about something from here?"

We liked that the book was about bread baking (kneading and punching and pounding and pulling), that it talked about cake making (milk in the batter!), and most importantly, that it reminded us of baking with the little ones. I am known around these parts for always getting lines just a little bit wrong, and while the actual line in the book is, "Stir it! Scrape it! Make it! Bake it!" I always read it, "Stir it! Scrape it! Mix it! Bake it!" Mix it Bake it was born. :)

So what to make? Well, "we bake cake and nothing's the matter!" and this weekend was definitely cake-worthy in our world: after seven years of hard work, my hubby finally graduated with his Master's degree this weekend. (It's not entirely his fault that it took so long; we've had two babies and multiple job switches while he's been enrolled in school, and these life events forced him to take several extended breaks.)

I wanted to make something special, and remembered Kelly's post for chocolate chip cookie dough cake which I'd bookmarked way back in October 2011. What a fabulous idea! And chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream is one of hubby's very favorite desserts. I was planning to make vanilla ice cream to accompany the cake, and then wondered if I could use ice cream to fill and frost the cake? Well, of course I could!

On Friday night, I made a batch of vanilla bean ice cream base from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. I also mixed up some (no egg) chocolate chip cookie dough from my Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and Dessert Book. Then Saturday morning, I made Nick Malgieri's yellow cake from The Modern Baker (a half-recipe made two 6" cakes). After the cake layers were cool, I stuck them in the freezer for a bit to firm them up. Meanwhile, I took the no-bake cookie dough and rolled them into little balls, which I also stuck in the freezer. And then I churned the ice cream.

Just after churning, while it was still the consistency of soft serve, I pulled the cake layers from the freezer and smoothed ice cream on top of both layers. On top of the middle layer, I buried pieces of the no-bake cookie dough. I sprinkled mini chips on the top of the top layer. Then I stuck the cakes back into the freezer to firm up again. (Of course I was doing this on a 90º day!)

Finally I mixed up a batch of our very favorite chocolate chip cookie dough (from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook) and used a teaspoon to make tiny little chocolate chip cookies, which baked for about 10 minutes.

On Sunday morning, I finished assembly: using some softened ice cream to frost the sides and then sticking the mini chocolate chip cookies along the sides for decoration. Voila!

Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream celebration cake: One of our friends said it was everything you want in a cake: "You know how you're eating cake, and you really wish you had ice cream? And then a cookie just sounds really good?" And one of our other friends' little guy did a happy dance during all of dessert. Oh yeah, this one was a hit!


  1. Oh my word, your description of this in that tweet to me in no way prepared me for this!! Wow...extravaganza indeed!! What a fun cake...just the perfect Celebration Cake for Eric! Congrats to Eric and all of takes an entire family to get a Masters!!! Fun to read all this, nice salute to the recently deceased Maurice...such fun to read about the name of your blog as well. What a fun day here at Mix It Bake It!! :-) xo

  2. Loved this post, Abby! Maurice Sendak has always been a special favorite in my family and I love that In the Night Kitchen was the inspiration for your blog title and a favorite book for your family to share. Congrats to your hubs; that's quite an accomplishment and I don't think, with that cake, there's any doubt in his mind that you are proud of his accomplishment!!

  3. So cool to hear the story of your blog name. =) I'll have to look for that book for the girls. I'm so glad you were able to join in the blog event. Now you've got me wanting to make ice cream cake. =)

  4. I have never made an ice cream cake before. I love how you used recipes from three of your books to make this celebration cake. It looks just perfect. Congratulations to your husband - what a marvelous accomplishment!

    I also enjoyed your story about how you selected your blog name. So very cute. :)