The Milk and Cookies Cake Roxane Gay Swears By

That’s partly why, when Gay needs baking inspiration, she turns to blogs and Instagram accounts sometimes run by casual home cooks who also like to experiment. She particularly likes the website Sally’s Baking Addiction (“She always explains why she’s made some of the choices she has in the recipe,” Gay said). There’s also the Instagram account @thefantasybakery, run by a Los Angeles-based baker who has an affinity for cake pops. Then, Gay said, there’s “Ina Garten, of course.” Though Gay doesn’t concern herself with overly fussy techniques, she follows Garten’s lead in encouraging cooks to “use the good ingredients.” For this recipe, Gay said, “Use a really good mascarpone. And use high-fat European butter for the frosting.”

(The recipe below, apart from Gay’s adjustments, which are italicized, is a lightly edited reproduction of the original, which can be found in Huff’s book “Icing on the Cake” [Abrams, 2019].)

For the cookie dough-inspired filling:

  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter

  • 2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • ½ teaspoon fancy molasses

  • pinch of salt

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whole milk, if needed

  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips

For the white cake:

  • ¾ cup milk

  • ¼ cup sour cream

  • 2 ½ cupcake flour

  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature

  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 6 egg whites

For the mascarpone buttercream:

Make the cookie dough-inspired filling:

1. In a light-colored medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring to keep the milk solids from sticking and burning at the bottom of the pan, for about 8 minutes, until the butter is very fragrant and nutty, and light-medium amber in color. There may be dark brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Strain the browned butter through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof container and discard any burned milk solids. Chill the browned butter in the refrigerator until it has the consistency of room-temperature butter, about 1 hour.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand-held mixer), beat the cooled browned butter on low speed until smooth. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, molasses and salt. Once these are incorporated, turn the mixer to medium and mix for a couple of minutes, or until the filling is smooth and creamy. If the filling is too thick to spread, gradually add the milk, starting with 1 tablespoon. Stop the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips by hand.

Make the white cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, stir the milk and sour cream.

3. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a paddle attachment, beat the ingredients on low speed until just combined. Add the butter, vanilla and about ½ cup of the milk mixture. Mix on medium until the dry ingredients are evenly distributed and moistened, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

4. Add the egg whites to the remaining milk mixture and stir to combine. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the egg mixture in three additions, mixing for about 15 seconds after each addition and stopping the mixer between additions to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

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