Vanilla-Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

I have had my eye on a couple of easy sheet cake recipes. My indecisiveness led me to combine them. 😉 It was a successful combination! This cake was moist and delicious.

The simple vanilla cake is from Food 52, from their book Genius Desserts, contributed by Jami Curl. It was proposed to serve it topped with strawberry compote & butterscotch whipped cream. I included these original topping recipes below- just to keep my options open.

The frosting recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. It was originally from an easy sheet cake recipe with a “reverse creaming” technique. Of course, I’ll have to try this cake as well at some point. 🙂

For the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:

  • 3 1/3 cups (400 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 T plus 2 tsp (20 g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 g) kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (227 g) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (105 g) canola oil
  • 1 T (18 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) boiling water

For the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • sprinkles, for garnish, optional

To Make the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper. Spray with cooking oil spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and sour cream with a fork, mixing until smooth. Add the oil and vanilla and use the fork to mix until they’re incorporated. The mixture will be smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and continue to stir until the dry ingredients are mostly incorporated. The batter will turn very thick.
  5. Add the boiling water and stir until the batter is smooth and uniform with no traces of unmixed ingredients remaining.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it evenly into the corners.
  7. Bake the cake for 35 (to be safe- check even earlier) to 40 minutes, until it’s golden, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely.

To Make the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Make icing while cake cools.
  2. Using electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add powdered sugar, sifted cocoa powder, and salt and beat again, scraping down sides of bowl, until completely smooth.
  4. Add vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy and lightened in color, another minute.
  5. Smooth icing over top of cooled cake (it should not be at all warm to the touch, or else the icing will melt).
  6. Top cake with sprinkles, if desired.
  7. Cut into pieces and serve.

Do Ahead: Cake can be baked and frosted 2 days ahead. Chill until icing is solid, then cover with plastic wrap and keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

For the Alternate Cake Toppings:

For the Strawberry Compote & Butterscotch Whipped Cream:

  • 4 cups (600 grams) frozen strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups (800 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (480 grams) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (72 grams) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) pure vanilla extract

To Make the Strawberry Compote:

  1. Combine the strawberries and vinegar in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the fruit is soft and has released some juice.
  2. Add the granulated sugar 1 cup (200 grams) at a time, stirring between additions until the sugar disappears.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and bring the fruit and sugar to a boil. Boil for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the compote cool before using.

To Make the Butterscotch Whipped Cream:

  1. Chill a bowl and a whisk.
  2. Pour the cream into the bowl and add the brown sugar and vanilla.
  3. Whisk the cream until stiff-ish peaks form. Take care that you don’t turn it into butter by overwhipping.(You can use a mixer with the whisk attachment to whip the cream.)
  4. Use immediately.

To Serve the Vanilla Sour-Cream Cake with Compote & Whipped Cream: **Two Options:

Option 1: Spoon the Strawberry Compote over the cake. Top the compote with the Butterscotch Whipped Cream, using the back of a spoon to give it some pretty swirls.

Option 2: Use the parchment paper to lift the cooled cake out of the pan. Cut the cake into 12 equal pieces. Spoon some Strawberry Compote over each piece. Top with a generous dollop of Butterscotch Whipped Cream.

Note: The Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake will keep, tightly covered at room temperature, for several days. Once assembled with the Strawberry Compote and Butterscotch Whipped Cream, plan to enjoy this cake the day you assemble it. That said, if you cover and refrigerate it, it will not disappoint the next day or the day after that. Especially for breakfast.

After-School Specials

After making the amazing Donut Loaf from this special book, I had to try a cookie. My husband picked this cookie which is a chocolate chip, oatmeal, and snickerdoodle cookie “rolled into one recipe.” Each flavor was distinct! They were definitely a crowd-pleaser.

This recipe was adapted from Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. I weighed the dry ingredients, used semi-sweet chocolate chips, scooped the cookie dough prior to refrigerating, and modified the baking time.

By keeping the cold (pre-scooped) dough tightly wrapped in the refrigerator and baking the cookies in small batches just prior to serving, we ate them warm from the oven every time. Despite the title, I served them after-dinner instead of after-school. 😉 Great!

Yield: about 40 cookies

For the Dough:

  • 225g (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 57g (1/4 cup) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 250g (2 1/2 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 256g (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, weighed or spooned and leveled
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt such as Fleur de Sel or Maldon
  • 256g (1 1/2 cups) semi-sweet or bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate chips

For the Coating:

  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the granulated and brown sugar and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until aerated and noticeably fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, giving each about 30 seconds of beating time to incorporate fully.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and fine and flaky salt.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly stir in the dry ingredients.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Using a large cookie scoop, form the dough into 2-tablespoon balls and place on the prepared cookie sheet.
  8. Cover the cookie sheet tightly with plastic wrap; place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 2 days.
  9. Position 2 oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  10. In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt to make the coating.
  11. One at a time, form the refrigerated scoops of dough into balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar coating.
  12. Evenly space the dough balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. (I placed 8 cookies per sheet.)
  13. Bake until golden and puffed, about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time.
  14. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Admittedly, I love all types of chocolate chip cookies. 😉 That being said, these might be my ultimate favorite chocolate chip cookies. They are thick, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and are loaded with both semi-sweet and dark chocolate. SO good.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Leite. I weighed all of the dry ingredients, modified the cookie size and baking time, and used a mixture of chopped bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate as well as semi-sweet chocolate chips. The original recipe uses disks of chocolate because they melt differently than chocolate chips; the chopped chocolate had the same effect.

Prior to baking, the dough is refrigerated for 24 to 36 hours. This results in a firmer dough because the dry ingredients absorb the wet ingredients. I also froze scoops of this cookie dough with great success.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 ⅔ cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 ½ sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves (at least 60 % cacao)(I used a combination of semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate)(see note below)
  • flaky sea salt
  1. Sift or whisk flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.
  6. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them.
  7. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  8. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  9. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop mounds of dough (about 2 tablespoons each) onto the prepared baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. (I placed 8 cookies per sheet.)
  10. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 14 to 16 minutes.
  11. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more.
  12. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Serve warm.

Chocolate: Bittersweet chocolate disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are sold at Whole Foods.
Note: The dough can be scooped into portions and frozen. Bake directly from the freezer adding 2 minutes onto the baking time.

Flourless Cocoa Cookies

Yes! More cookies and ice cream. In fact, I have several cookie drafts waiting to be shared. All of a sudden, it just feels like it’s finally time. 🙂

These cookies are a fabulous hybrid of a fudgy brownie and a cookie. This recipe was adapted from The Fearless Baker by Erin Jeanne McDowell via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I weighed the dry ingredients, included the cinnamon, and used 70% cacao dark chocolate chopped into chunks. Great.

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups/340 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 ½ cup/106 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup/140 grams bittersweet chocolate chunks (I used 70% cacao dark chocolate)
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (I used Fleur de Sel)
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended.
  3. In another large bowl, sift together confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Whisk into eggs, changing to a spatula when the batter becomes too thick to whisk.
  5. Stir in vanilla and chocolate chunks.
  6. Use a large 2-tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop cookies onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2 inches between them. (I baked 9 on each baking sheet.) Sprinkle with flaky salt.
  7. Bake, rotating front to back, and top to bottom, halfway through, until set around the edges, cracked on top and slightly underbaked in the middle, 10 to 13 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely on the baking sheets. Store carefully in an airtight container.

S’mores Blondies

I first made this crowd-pleasing dessert for our last summer beach day and sunset before the start of school. I’ve already made them again! Insanely delicious.

The bars are not overly sweet and they have an amazing texture. I weighed the dry ingredients to ensure perfection. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I modified the method. Fabulous!!

Yield: 24 blondies
  • nonstick cooking oil spray
  • 9 whole graham crackers (about 135 grams), or store-bought graham cracker crumbs (about 1 cup)
  • 1 ¼ cups/160 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 packed cup/220 grams dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces/225 grams bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into chunks (I used 78% cacao Lindt)
  • 2 ½ cups/150 grams mini marshmallows
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and arrange oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  2. Coat the inside of a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray and line it with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of excess parchment on the long sides of the pan. (The excess will help you pull the blondies out later.)
  3. If using whole graham crackers, add them to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they form a fine powder. Alternately, you could put the crackers in a large resealable plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin, then add them to the bowl. If using store-bought crumbs, add them directly to the food processor.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the crumbs, and pulse a few times to combine.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed until well incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  7. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  8. Turn the mixer to low and add the graham crumb mixture and mix just to combine.
  9. Add about ¾ of the chocolate to the mixer and mix to incorporate.
  10. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Use damp hands or a small offset spatula to press the dough into an even layer.
  11. Bake on the lower rack until the bars are golden at the edges and the surface has a crackly appearance, 25 minutes on convection or about 30 minutes in a standard oven.
  12. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the marshmallows evenly over the surface. Sprinkle the reserved chocolate on top of the marshmallows and return the pan to the top rack of the oven.
  13. Bake until the marshmallows have softened and are lightly toasted and the chocolate is melted and gooey, 10 to 14 minutes.
  14. Remove the pan from the oven. If any of the marshmallows have puffed up, use a toothpick or skewer to puncture them; they will deflate easily.
  15. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool, 45 minutes.
  16. Using a thin knife, slide the blade between the blondies and the pan on the short sides of the pan, then use the parchment sling to carefully remove the blondies.
  17. Let cool another 10 minutes, then slice into 24 even pieces and serve.

Zebra-Striped Shortbread Cookies

I made these “Art Deco” vanilla & chocolate shortbread cookies as part of my Christmas cookie assortment, but the colorful sanding sugar edge could easily be modified to suit any occasion. Pink and red would be amazing for Valentine’s Day! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I doubled the recipe, in two separate batches, making the process even easier because I kept one batch to use for the vanilla stripes and the second batch for the chocolate stripes. I also used egg yolks to coat the cookies instead of a whole egg. Wonderful.

Yield: Makes 40-48 cookies

  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • ⅓ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 egg yolk or 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • ¼ cup sanding sugar (any color)
  1. Whisk 1⅓ cups flour and ¾ tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Whisk cocoa powder, remaining 1 cup flour, and remaining ¾ tsp. salt in another medium bowl. These are the bases for your chocolate and vanilla doughs.
  2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. (Do in 2 separate batches if doubling the recipe, making the vanilla dough first.)
  3. Add egg yolk and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until smooth.
  4. Divide (for 1 batch) mixture between the 2 bowls of dry ingredients (about 1 cup in each). Scrape vanilla mixture back into stand mixer bowl (save the mixing bowl) and beat on low-speed just until combined. Return to reserved bowl.
  5. Repeat process with chocolate mixture.
  6. Arrange 2 large sheets (per batch) of plastic wrap or parchment paper on a work surface. Dollop one-quarter of chocolate dough in the center of each sheet and pat into rough 6×2″ rectangles. Dollop one-quarter of vanilla dough on top of each chocolate slab and pat into rectangles the same size and shape so that you have 2 layers each. Repeat entire process so you have 4 alternating layers.
  7. Tightly press stacked dough into cylinders about 1½” wide and 8″ long, using the plastic wrap or parchment to help you.
  8. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and chill until very firm, at least 2 hours. I chilled my dough overnight.
  9. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
  10. Working one at a time, unwrap dough and brush with egg. Carefully sprinkle surface with sanding sugar and roll logs in sugar to coat well (really press dough into sugar so it sticks).
  11. Slice into rounds a generous ¼” thick, rotating after every few cuts to keep slices round.
  12. Arrange cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart.
  13. Bake, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until edges are just set, 12–14 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.

Note: Dough can be made 3 days ahead; keep chilled. Cookies can be baked 5 days ahead; store airtight at room temperature.

Brown Butter & Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oh my… these were quite fabulous. The combination of brown butter, dark chocolate, and the finishing touch of sea salt really elevated this incredible variation of a classic chocolate chip cookie. I know that I will make them again and again. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kate Davis. I used Nestlé 62% cacao bittersweet chocolate morsels instead of the recommended dark chocolate wafers or disks, and they were still absolutely amazing. I also made smaller cookies.

Yield: about 50 cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 chocolate toffee bars, 1.4 oz/39 g each, (preferably Skor), chopped into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1½ cups chocolate wafers (disks, pistoles, fèves; preferably 72% cacao) (I used one 10 oz bag of Nestlé 62% cacao bittersweet chocolate morsels)
  • flaky sea salt
  1. Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it foams, then browns, 5–8 minutes. Scrape into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl) and let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a separate medium bowl.
  3. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar to the browned butter. Using the mixer on medium speed, beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture lightens and begins to thicken, about 30 seconds.
  5. Reduce mixer speed to low; add dry ingredients and beat just to combine.
  6. Mix in toffee pieces and chocolate wafers with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
  7. Let dough sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate. Dough will look very loose at first, but will thicken as it sits. (I let my dough sit for 1 hour.)
  8. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°, preferably on convection. Using a small ice cream scoop, portion out 11 balls of dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 3″ apart (you can also form dough into ping pong–sized balls with your hands). Do not flatten; cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  9. Bake cookies until edges are golden brown and firm but centers are still soft, 7 to 9 minutes.
  10. Let cool on baking sheets 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  11. Repeat with remaining dough and fresh parchment-lined baking sheets.

Do Ahead: Cookie dough can be made 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Let dough come to room temperature before baking.

One Year Ago: Apple-Cider Doughnut Cake

Two Years Ago: Chocolate-Avocado Pudding

Three Years Ago: Lemony Butter Cookies and Vanilla Rose Cake

Four Years Ago: Speculoos and Mini M&M Cookies

Five Years Ago: Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies and Pretzel-Shortbread Bars

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