About a year ago I shared a ridiculously decadent Oreo cheesecake layer cake that I made for my ortho partner’s birthday at work, and it was a huge hit with my co-residents as well as with all of you. This year my new partner got a reincarnation of the cheesecake layer cake, this time with a cinnamon spice twist. The way this cake came about is actually a great example of why I love baking. I asked my coresident Evan to list all of his favorite flavors and desserts and in return, accepted the challenge to create a cake that hopefully embodied all of his favorite things. He listed oatmeal raisin cookies, cheesecake, and carrot cake. Since I don’t really like raisins, and I’ve already done a version of a carrot cake cheesecake before, this year Evan got a cinnamon spice cake layered with oatmeal cookie cheesecake, topped with cream cheese frosting, and decorated with oatmeal cinnamon chip cookies. Challenge accepted and {hopefully} delivered!

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It’s always fun to be creative and come up with great baking ideas completely on your own (gotta love my baby tooth cake pops!), but I crave the events where I have a bit of direction or a flavor in mind, and can use that as a starting point to come up with something great. That’s why this cake was so fun! Of course I went completely over the top and made each component from scratch, but I became obsessed with envisioning all of the components together and figuring out how to get all of Evan’s favorite flavors into one delicious cake. The cake ended up being moist and full of cinnamon flavor, which was complemented so well by the tangy cheesecake and cream cheese frosting. My favorite part ended up being the oatmeal cookies – they came out so chewy and yummy, and I loved finding little pieces in my cheesecake. I’m definitely going to have to make another batch of those again soon!

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Like my other cheesecake layer cakes, or any layer cake for that matter, there are a lot of steps involved here. You can skip a few by using store-bought oatmeal cookies, but you’re still going to have to make separate cheesecake and cake recipes which can be tough unless you’re totally committed. I took advantage of my freezer for this cake by spreading out my baking and freezing the components over a few days. Cheesecake and cake layers freeze well if they’re wrapped tightly, and once assembled and defrosted the whole cake still tasted freshly baked! If you’ve loved my red velvet, carrot cake, and Oreo versions of this cheesecake layer cake idea in the past, you’re going to have to add this spicy variety to your to-bake list as well. Just because it’s not autumn doesn’t mean cinnamon can’t have its turn in the spotlight – it’s cinnamon time year round in my book!

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And now for the marathon recipe. Are you up for the challenge??

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Oatmeal Cookie Cheescake Layer Cake

Ingredients:

for the oatmeal cinnamon cookies:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp molasses
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

for the cheesecake layer:

20 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
7 oatmeal cookies, chopped

for the cinnamon spice cake layers:

1-1/3 cup cake flour
3/4 cup + 3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups light brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2-1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

for the cream cheese frosting:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk

Directions:

for the oatmeal cinnamon cookies:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and both sugars on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until smooth, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and molasses and mix on high until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture until just combined. Add the cinnamon chips and use a rubber spatula by hand to gently fold in the chips . Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats. Use a small ice cream scoop or a spoon to form balls of dough (I made mine small to decorate the top of the cake, about 1 tbsp per cookie) and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then cool on a wire rack completely. Store cookies in an airtight container until ready to use in your cheesecake and to decorate.

for the cheesecake layer:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8" springform pan with parchment paper and wrap the bottom half of the pan in tinfoil. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, then slowly add the sugar. Beat in the vanilla and salt until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides between each addition and beating well. Mix in the sour cream and gently fold in the chopped oatmeal cookies.

Place springform pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water until it comes up halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the center is just set. Remove pan from water and allow it to cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and set aside to cool completely. Remove outer ring of pan, leaving the bottom piece, wrap cheesecake with plastic wrap, and store in the freezer until ready to assemble.

for the cinnamon spice cake layers:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray two 8" cake pans with non-stick spray and parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all purpose flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and slowly drizzle the oil into the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs one at a time and do the same.

With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Distribute batter evenly between the two pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

for the cream cheese frosting:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and continue beating. Reduce the mixer's speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Once incorporated, add the milk and increase the speed to medium. Beat for another 1-2 minutes until smooth.

To assemble cake, place one of the cinnamon cake layers down on an 8" cake plate or cake board and cover with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting. Gently set the cheesecake layer on top, and frost with another thin layer of frosting. Add the second layer of cinnamon cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting. I stuck with a rustic look and simply dragged an offset spatula along the edge of the cake to create the "ruffled" look. I halved the remaining oatmeal cookies for a decorative topping, and crumbled the rest to decorate the top and sides of the cake. Decorate as you wish!

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