Tonight Show Cake

Apr 21

Chocolate cake, caramel cake, chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate cookie crumbs and whipped peanut butter frosting.

You know those moments when the most amazing idea hits you like a bolt of lightening? You’re not expecting it, and then, “BAM!,” the idea just pops in your head and you’re feeling like the smartest person in the world. Yup, that’s exactly how things went down a couple weeks ago when I had the brilliant idea for this cake. Of course, I can’t take all the credit. Ben & Jerry did come up with the ice cream flavor first. BUT, I was the one sitting in my kitchen late one night, eating The Tonight Dough ice cream straight from the carton, starring at the description, when I realized it needed to become a cake.

If you haven’t heard of the The Tonight Dough ice cream or haven’t had the opportunity to try it, you are missing out and need to run to the nearest grocery store and start hunting it down. It’s a combination of caramel ice cream, chocolate ice cream, chocolate cookie crumbs, chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter cookie dough. Mind. Blown. Right?

Are you still reading or have you stopped to head to the store? Don’t worry, I’ll be here when you get back…

 Ok, you’re back…

For the cake, I wanted to incorporate all the flavors Jimmy, Ben and Jerry put in the ice cream without it being an ice cream cake (I’m not a huge fan of those). It was also important to me to get some different textures throughout the cake. I first decided on caramel and chocolate cake layers. I knew Milk Bar had a mouth-watering Dulce de Leche Cake* with caramel cake layers that are buttery, moist and full of caramel flavor that would be perfect for this cake. As a contrast to the fluffy, buttery caramel cake, I went with a layer of my rich, dark chocolate cake.

With those two cakes as my starting point, I decided to stay true to the ice cream creation and use chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate cookie crumbs to give the cake different textures I wanted. Then, I was left with the peanut butter cookie dough element, which I didn’t want to be another cookie dough layer in the cake. That would just be too much of the same thing. Instead, I went with a whipped peanut butter frosting that adds a light, creamy texture to the cake and still incorporates the peanut butter flavor. There’s also a good bit of kosher salt in the chocolate cake, the chocolate crumbs and the peanut butter frosting that helps offset all the sweetness in the caramel cake and cookie dough. 

And just a heads up, since I did this cake like a Milk Bar cake, you will have scraps of the cakes once you cut the layers out of the quarter sheet pan. Don’t throw those away! Create mini Tonight Show Cakes inside mason jars by stacking the scraps and left over filling just like you would the cake.

Tonight Show Cake

Yield 1 6-inch round cake

Dark chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate cookie crumbs, whipped peanut butter frosting and caramel cake.


For the Caramel Cake (recipe source: Milk Bar)

  • 115g unsalted butter (8 tablespoons or 1 stick)
  • 150g granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
  • 275g dulce de leche (1 cup / about 10 oz)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 110g buttermilk (1/2 cup)
  • 75g grapeseed oil (1/2 cup)
  • 4g vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
  • 185g cake flour (1 1/2 cups)
  • 4g baking powder (1 teaspoon)
  • 4g kosher salt (1 teaspoon)

For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk (a little more if your cooking dough isn't spreadable)
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips​

For the Chocolate Cookie Crumbs

  • 105 g flour (2/3 cup)
  • 4 g cornstarch (1 teaspoon)
  • 100 g sugar (½ cup)
  • 65 g cocoa powder (2/3 cup) 
  • 4 g kosher salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 85 g butter, melted (6 tablespoons)

For the Chocolate Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup, minus 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot water

For the Peanut Butter Frosting (recipe adapted from Annie's Eats)

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted and divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I use Skippy)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


For the Caramel Cake

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment and spray again. Set aside.
  2. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Scape down the sides of the bowl, add the dulce de leche, and beat on high for another 3 minutes.
  4. Scrape down the bowl again. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, beating on medium-high for one minute after each addition. After you add the last egg, beat on high for 4 more minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
  5. On medium-high speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla very slowly. This process should take 3 to 4 minutes to add. Don't rush the process. You're basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn't want to make room for that liquid. There should be no streaks of fat or liquid and the mixture should look smooth and not curdled. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. On very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnant of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. If you see any lumps of cake flour in there while you're scraping, mix for another 30 to 45 seconds.
  7. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan.
  8. Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. To check if it's done, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger. The cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes it if doesn't pass this test.

For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar and beat on medium speed for about one minute until it's light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla, flour and salt and continue to mix until combined.
  3. Gradually add the milk and mix until you get a spreadable consistency.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips.

For the Chocolate Cookie Crumb

  1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until mixed.
  3. Add the butter and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
  4. Spread the clusters on a parchment or silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. the crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool.
  5. Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. stored in an airtight container, they will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

For the Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F. Spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment and spray again. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix for about 30 seconds.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and whisk for a few seconds.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Once all the wet ingredients are added, continue to mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another 15 to 30 seconds. Don't over beat this batter.
  5. Pour the batter into a quarter sheet baking pan. Bake the cake for 16-18 minutes.

For the Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting

  1. Combine the heavy cream and 1/4 cup of the confectioners' sugar in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until light, fluffy and stiff peaks form, being careful not to over mix.
  2. Transfer the whipped cream to a separate bowl. In the now empty bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and peanut butter. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 45 seconds.
  3. Add the remaining confectioners' sugar to the bowl and mix in, slowly at first until incorporated, then increasing the mixer speed to high. Blend in the vanilla extract and salt, and continue to whip on high speed until very fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Use a large spatula to gently fold about a third of the whipping cream into the peanut butter frosting. Once the first addition has been evenly incorporated, gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no streaks remain.
  5. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Can be made a day or two in advance.


  1. Put a piece of parchment or a silpat on the counter. Invert the caramel cake onto it and peel off the parchment or silpat from the bottom side of the cake. Use a 6-inch cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. 
  2. Repeat step #1 for the chocolate cake.
  3. Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or silpat. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. (This is essential, as it is going to support the cake as you layer all the amazing elements.)
  4. Place one caramel cake layer inside the ring.
  5. Use the back of a spoon to spread 1/3 of the cookie dough over the caramel cake in an even layer, making sure to spread up against the acetate.
  6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the chocolate cookie crumbs evenly over the cookie dough and use the back of your hand to anchor them in place.
  7. Use the back of a spoon to spread about 1/2 cup of the peanut butter frosting evenly over the cookie crumb layer.
  8. With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top 1/4 inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall - high enough to support the height of the finished cake.
  9. Set a chocolate cake round on top of the peanut butter frosting and repeat the cookie dough, cookie crumb and peanut butter frosting layers.
  10. Nestle a caramel cake layer on top of the frosting and decorate with cookie dough, cookie crumbs and frosting.
  11. You will have an extra chocolate cake round, you can either continue layering the cake after the second caramel cake layer, so it ends with the chocolate cake layer, or save the extra chocolate cake layer for another time. Just wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it.
  12. Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and the fillings. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
  13. At least three hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer. Using your fingers and thumb, pop the cake out of the cake ring and gently peel off the acetate. Let it defrost in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours. 

*For the full Dulce de Leche Cake and the Chocolate Chip Cake recipes, make sure to check out the MILK BAR website.

2 thoughts on “Tonight Show Cake

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  1. Hey Courtney! What size cake pans do you use for this? will the recipe turn out ok if I use a cake pan that’s larger than 6 inches?

    1. Hi Ashlin! You could do this cake in a larger sheet pan (which you’ll see more about that in the instructions) and then cut cake 8″ circles but the layers will be thinner than the 6″ version that you bake in a quarter sheet pan.