The following post is written in celebration of my half birthday, which occured on Monday–April 1st. I couldn’t have posted this on my actual half birthday, since it was April Fool’s and you wouldn’t have believed for a second that I was serious in what I’m about to say.
I was born on the best day of the year. October first. Ten-one. 10/1. A palindrome. Binary. A Libra.
Since my birthday falls on such a singular day, I always made a big deal of celebrations when I was younger. One birthday wasn’t enough–I prized not just my half birthday but also my quarter and three-quarter birthdays.
To this day, each morning I wake up on the first of the of the month, I calculate the fraction of my age and rejoice a little (or mourn the ascent of 30). Most of the time I keep these celebrations private, confined to the interior of my head, because normal people don’t celebrate half birthdays, let alone 5/12th birthdays.
Most normal people. At camp, at age 10 and 2/3, I met Becky, who was born on February 1st. We only spent summer months together, and so we celebrated July 1st (my three-quarter birthday; also: Canada Day) and August 1st (her half birthday) with gusto. At college, lovely Lisa, my roommate, turned 21 then 22 on March 1st. My sister’s husband was born on April 1st. I like to think we’ve all bonded, as I do with every firstie that I meet. I feel a natural affinity with any and all of you, as I assume you prize coming in first as much as I do. (Firsties are naturally a little competitive.)
While there was a period when I thought I’d convinced everyone I knew that half birthdays should be celebrated–mine, yours, whoever’s, in reality, only my sister and occasionally my mom would comply.
But were you to celebrate half birthdays, you might puzzle over what to make. A half cake? And then what to do with the other half?
Today’s confection has half-i-ness in its nature: it’s half cookie and half cake. It’s cute and a little silly, which means the cookie cake might suit not only half birthdays but also other ridiculous and whimsical events that need fêting in an offbeat and childlike way. The recipe comes from a Martha Stewart collector’s edition called “Cakes & Cupcakes,” and honestly no one could have invented this but Martha. It’s perfect.
Giant Layered Cookie Cake
Adapted ever so slightly from “Cakes & Cupcakes: The Best of Martha Stewart Living”
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups chocolate chips
2 pounds (4 8-ounce packages) cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line several baking sheets with parchment. Find a ruler, measuring tape, or circle you believe is 8 inches in diameter. Keep it around.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
With an electric mixer on medium, beat 6 tablespoons of the butter and the sugars together. The mixture will come together, first into crumbs, then into more of a batter, but it won’t fully become creamy. Beat for about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla, and beat. Reduce the speed to low. Add half the flour, then the cream, then the rest of the flour. With a spatula, stir in the choclate chips.
For each of the 5 layers, drop 1 level cup of batter onto the center of a baking sheet. Using a small offset spatula, spread it into an 8-inch round. Measure with the ruler or 8-inch round you located earlier. Bake until edges are pale brown, about 12 minutes.
Remove the sheet from the oven and use the offset spatula (cleaned and dried) to nudge the cookie back into a circle. Return to the oven and bake until the edges are golden brown, another 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with all the rest of the batter.
With an electric mixer, beat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, cream cheese, and confectioners’ sugar until fluffy. Spread equal amounts of icing on top of 4 of the cooled cookies. Stack the frosted cookies and place the unfrosted one on top. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.