At 26-going-on-27, I’ve grown to love birthdays that feel like deep crow-footed, cheek-hurting smiles, that sound like clanging dishes and brassy laughter.

On birthdays, I need my family. We need a table to sit around to hold our leaning elbows. We need food, we need each other, but that’s all.

For children, though, birthdays have to involve some sort of event. Kids want to scarf down plasticky pizza, be mildly terrorized by an oversized animatronic mouse playing a banjo, and wallow in a germy ball pit. Or they want to light tiki torches, drink pineapple punch, and marco polo around a swimming pool until their fingers are wrinkly.

When I was little, my mom convinced me that I wanted to throw a cross-stitching birthday party.

Naturally, the most direct avenue to popularity among your elementary school friends is to invite them to something called a “party” and proceed to introduce them to the pastime of 70-year-old ladies everywhere.

When my birthday rolled around, my unsuspecting friends gathered around the coffee table and listened intently to the plan. Our goal was to pick a pattern and each cross-stitch a bookmark before cake and gifts. We dutifully chose the our favorite design, fussed with threading our needles, and got to work.

Well, turns out cross-stitching requires quite a bit of time. And, like, patience and stuff. Things that are in short supply for kids at birthday parties.

My friends faded fast. Soon we were stuffing our faces with cake, our half-finished bookmarks languishing in the needle-and-thread strewn living room.

Oh well. As long as there’s cake, right?

In that spirit, boy do I have a cake for you. This particular cake is an explosion of birthdayness. A “Funfetti” cheesecake on a vanilla wafer crust is topped with a layer of Funfetti cake, a layer of cake batter cookie dough, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and a cherry. Every layer contributes a little bit of birthday joy. The final product is scrumptious and outrageously festive.

I have more ridiculous birthday stories from when I was a child, because apparently it was impossible for me to have a normal, uneventful birthday party. But I’ll spread the love and save those for later. In the meantime, have some cake.

Describe one of your favorite (or least favorite) childhood birthday memories.

Birthday Cake Cheesecake

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, with chocolate sauce adapted from Bakers Royale
Yield: 24 mini cheesecakes or 1 full-sized cheesecake

Crust Ingredients:
45 vanilla wafers, finely processed into crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt

Cheesecake Ingredients:
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cake mix
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sprinkles
1 Funfetti cake mix (or homemade yellow cake with sprinkles mixed in), prepared and baked in thin layers
melted chocolate (for topping)
whipped cream (for topping)
maraschino cherries (for topping)

Cake Batter Cookie Dough Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cake mix
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sprinkles
4-8 tablespoons water

Chocolate Pouring Sauce:
2/3 cups dark chocolate
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
4-5 tablespoons water, warm

Note on Scheduling: This is a great recipe to make over the course of a few days. You can make the Funfetti cake one day and freeze it, make the cookie dough disc another day and freeze it, make the cheesecake one day and refrigerate it, and then make your chocolate pouring sauce and assemble on the day you’ll serve the dessert.

Prepare your Funfetti cake: Mix and bake in 9-inch round cake pans according to box instructions and set aside to cool. Make one of these a pretty thin layer of cake — this will be the one you use on your cheesecake (be careful; a thinner layer will bake for less time). The other layer is extra; I tore mine up and froze it for future cake balls. After cooling, freeze your cake layer — it’s easier to work with when frozen.

Prepare your cheesecake: To make the cheesecake crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two mini or one full-sized cheesecake pan. Combine the cookie crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom of your cheesecake pan(s).

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until well blended. Beat in the flour and cake mix. Add in the vanilla and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Pour the filling into your cheesecake pan(s), leaving room for a cake and cookie dough layer on top of your cheesecake.

Bake until the top is lightly browned, puffed and cracked at the edges, and the center moves only very slightly when the pan is lightly shaken (about 40 minutes for a full-sized cheesecake or 12-15 minutes for mini cheesecakes). Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and let cool at least 1 hour, until completely chilled and set.

Make the cookie dough: In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes until light, fluffy, and pale yellow. Mix in salt, flour, cake mix, sprinkles, and vanilla. Add water one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each, until you reach cookie dough consistency. If making a full-sized cheesecake, line a 9-inch cake pan with plastic wrap and spread cookie dough in a disc in the pan. Freeze it until firm, about 15 minutes. If making mini cheesecakes, just chill the cookie dough until you’re ready to assemble your cakes.

Make the chocolate pouring sauce: Heat chocolate and cream together in a bowl set over simmering water. Let them sit for a few minutes before whisking them together to combine. Whisk in powdered sugar and then add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, mixing after each until you reach pouring consistency. Set the sauce aside and let it cool to warm.

Assemble the cheesecakes: If you’re making mini cheesecakes, use a round cookie cutter or a serrated knife to cut circles of Funfetti cake to fit on each mini cheesecake. Spread a little chocolate sauce on the top of each mini cheesecake before placing a cake round on each and gently pressing them down snugly. If you’re making a full-sized cheesecake, spread chocolate sauce over your cheesecake and just place full frozen cake layer on top and gently press down.

If making mini cheesecakes, spread cookie dough into the top of each well with the back of a spoon. If making a full-sized cheesecake, spread another thin layer of chocolate sauce on top of the cake layer to act as glue, and then take your frozen cookie dough disc and place it on top. Chill cheesecake(s) for about 30 minutes before gently unmolding them. Drizzle with melted chocolate and top with a dollop of whipped cream, sprinkles, and a maraschino cherry.

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79 Comments on Birthday Cake Cheesecake

  1. Nicole@HeatOvenTo350
    April 11, 2011 at 11:12 am (13 years ago)

    That’s just hilarious about the cross stitching party. It was probably the first and last, I’m sure.

    That cheesecake is the cake to end all cakes. Wow! That would be some special birthday treat, to be sure. It looks amazing.

  2. Allison Sobieck
    April 11, 2011 at 11:16 am (13 years ago)

    You’ve probably not seen my son’s 6th birthday treats. I am quite certainly not a baker, but the birthday cake cheeseburgers were pretty cool. I will tweet you a pic.


  3. Vanessa
    April 11, 2011 at 11:20 am (13 years ago)

    Mmh. This looks so good! I haven’t had cake in so long because it’s silly making it for one. The funfetti reminds me of being a kid! 🙂

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 11, 2011 at 11:24 am (13 years ago)

      You could make the minis and pawn the rest off on friends 🙂 I definitely have to rack my brain for creative ways to get rid of all the food I make. Ha.

      Thanks, Vanessa 🙂

  4. Becca
    April 11, 2011 at 11:27 am (13 years ago)

    Looks like you “demoned” that cake nicely 🙂

    We got to have out-of-the house parties (McDonalds, roller skating, etc) just every few years and all the other times our parties were at home, with cake, chips, cousins/friends and a sleepover. I LOVED those, as much if not more than the “special” ones. I’m making and effort to keep Natalie’s parties focused on kid fun (the big ones seem more stressful and more about parent’s showing off half the time anyways)…by the way, one year I decided to have an indoor beach party (my b-day is in Nov), so I told my friends to come in their swimsuits (under their clothes) and had beach towels and umbrellas and beach balls laid out in my living room. Haha, I don’t really remember how it went over, but I know I was super excited about the idea!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 11, 2011 at 11:29 am (13 years ago)

      Oh my gosh, Becca, you have no idea how much I want to have an indoor beach/sleepover/roller skating party RIGHT THIS SECOND. Ha! I love these memories 🙂

  5. Deb Cummings
    April 11, 2011 at 11:48 am (13 years ago)

    Julie, again your recipe makes my mouth salivate. Cheesecake is my weakness and the story is priceless. That’s what happens when you have a mom that is as talented as Vivian. I can imagine how patience ran out rather quickly. Love your site!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 11, 2011 at 11:50 am (13 years ago)

      She really is so talented! I’m sure when she was a little girl, she’d have had her bookmark cross-stitched in 20 minutes flat, and would’ve baked her own birthday cake to boot 🙂

      Thanks, Deb!

  6. naomi
    April 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm (13 years ago)

    This looks so fantastic and so festive! Delish. Awesome cake and well done.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm (13 years ago)

      Thanks, Naomi! And thanks for the chocolate pouring sauce — it’s great to be able to get it to the perfect consistency!

  7. Megan
    April 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm (13 years ago)

    I love the minis! The cake looks sooo decadent! The perfect way to celebrate any birthday.

  8. Lucy @ The Sweet Touch
    April 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm (13 years ago)

    This looks incredible!!!

    Oh, and I think a cross-stitching party would be the bomb, haha, guess I’m cool like that too:)

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm (13 years ago)

      I think I’d finally have enough patience for it now. Not sure about my friends, still . . . 🙂

  9. Joanne
    April 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm (13 years ago)

    So wait…when exactly is your birthday? Happy almost birthday?

    My favorite part of my birthday is the cake. I definitely hate having to choose between cake and cheesecake…but you’ve made it so I don’t have to! Love you for that!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm (13 years ago)

      Thanks, Joanne! My birthday is April 20 — I’m having sort of a birth month 😀

  10. Mollie
    April 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm (13 years ago)

    This looks BEYOND! I haven’t made a cheesecake since your mocha fudge one…I may have to break the cheesecake fast with this…

    For my first grade birthday I wanted a “Thunder Cake” from this kids book my mom used to read to us. I was so concerned that it wasn’t a thunderstorm outside (it was just raining) and because of that the cake wouldn’t work…luckily it was awesome! And now I want to make a thunder cake too…

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm (13 years ago)

      Yay, hope you’ll make it, Mollie! Now I want to make a Thunder Cake, too! I think I read that book as a child . . . it looks so familiar.

  11. muppy
    April 11, 2011 at 6:09 pm (13 years ago)

    Yet more uses for cookie dough!! This looks like a pretty special birthday cake, and i love the little ones. That is hilarious you had a cross stitch party, I can barely remember my childhood brithday parties – they must have been uneventful. I would always get my mum to make me an awesome cake though 🙂

  12. betty
    April 11, 2011 at 8:05 pm (13 years ago)

    what a fabulous looking cake!

  13. kitchenarian
    April 11, 2011 at 8:16 pm (13 years ago)

    Such a celebratory cake! I don’t think I would mind getting one year older if I had a cake like this. Beautiful job.

  14. Lauren
    April 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm (13 years ago)

    This is gorgeous, Julie! One of my absolute favourite parts of birthday parties (especially as a kid) were the cards. Everyone made their own, and it was half the fun of prepping for any party. I still have a handful of those that my friends gave to me :).

  15. Maranda
    April 11, 2011 at 8:35 pm (13 years ago)

    Okay. First of all…this will be MY birthday cake this year. This looks incredible!

    And…at my birthday parties…I cried. EVERY TIME. I don’t know why…something always happened. At every one of my parties. That made me cry.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm (13 years ago)

      LOL, you know, that sounds a lot like my childhood birthdays too! Thanks, Maranda 🙂

  16. Sophia Spach
    April 11, 2011 at 9:24 pm (13 years ago)

    This looks absolutely wonderful and gorgeous. I bet it tasted amazing too!!

  17. sayre1311
    April 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm (13 years ago)

    Yummy yummy!! I can only imagine a group of young girls cross-stitching. How funny!

    When I was in 4th grade, I told my mom that I wanted a cookie cake for my party. Instead of going to Harris Teeter and getting a normal cookie cake, she baked one giant cookie!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 11, 2011 at 10:45 pm (13 years ago)

      Thanks, Sayre! Nice — a giant cookie is ALWAYS welcome at my birthday parties!

      Also, I’m SO EXCITED to see you’ve started your own food blog!! And what a great first post!

  18. Anna
    April 11, 2011 at 11:48 pm (13 years ago)

    My favorite birthday party was when both of my grandparents were visiting from out of state. My mom made me a pink princess castle cake (ice cream cones were the turrets), my grandpa handled the stereo during “pass the present”, and my grandma helped me and my friends make fairy tiaras. I think I was 8 or 9.

    This looks delicious, I want to try baking it when I’m home next month!

  19. Jackie
    April 12, 2011 at 5:04 am (13 years ago)

    Woaaah! Julie lookit those little cheesecakes! I love it. The stuff you make always looks so fun – totally perfect for a birthday or two 😉

    Dammit. I want it to be my birthday again… (but not really, so maybe just a past birthday?)… or I could just make this anyway, no birthdays needed. Yes, think that’s a plan and a half 😉

    Jax x

  20. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    April 12, 2011 at 9:24 am (13 years ago)

    Julie, this cheesecake is like a child’s dream birthday cake complete with sprinkles! Just gorgeous 😀

  21. Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen
    April 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm (13 years ago)

    I love that you had a cross stitching party! LOL My best party memory is from my 5th bday. It was a surprise Strawberry Shortcake themes party. I remember feeling very special because my grandma curled my hair with pipecleaners the night before 🙂

  22. Anita Menon
    April 12, 2011 at 8:57 pm (13 years ago)

    such a delightful looking cake. The use of wafers is just genius! I can hear the crunch from here ( INDIA).

  23. norma
    April 14, 2011 at 11:47 am (13 years ago)

    I just gained ten pounds…Happy B day and this was a cute post….

  24. natalie (the sweets life)
    April 15, 2011 at 11:12 am (13 years ago)

    First of all, cross-stitching? Hilarious! I have great memories of bdays as a kid, my mom always threw us such fun parties…way better than I’ll ever be able to throw for my kids 🙂

    This cheesecake is incredible–you really outdid yourself this time! Funfetti is all the rage now—I can’t wait to try this sometime when I have a few days to spend in the kitchen!

  25. kitchenmisfit
    April 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm (13 years ago)

    That is one of the prettiest cheesecakes I’ve ever seen! This isn’t my birthday story, but when I was a kid I went to a friend’s house for her birthday party. This was back in the day when you could have different characters come to your house. Well, the birthday girl wanted Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) but for some reason she couldn’t make it out, so instead the BEAST came!! Imagine 15 little girls playing together and all of a sudden this huge BEAST comes in the door! It was definitely a sight to see. My birthday was a few months later and I was lucky enough to have Belle come. heh

  26. Megan
    April 20, 2011 at 8:41 am (13 years ago)

    Wow! The best looking cake I’ve ever seen. Can’t wait to make one for my childs birthday coming next week. Great job!

  27. Janna
    December 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm (12 years ago)

    Hi, this cake looks fabulous. I’m making it for my brothers birthday. I was wondering if there is a trick to slicing it? I’m worried with the cookie dough being so dense it will smash the rest of the cake when cutting through it? Or Am I just be paranoid? Lol

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      December 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm (12 years ago)

      Hi Janna! It doesn’t usually squish, but the layers CAN separate. If you’re worried about this, use a bit of the ganache to “glue” each layer on. When I cut it, I “heat” my knife by running it under warm water, then dry it and use it to slice. The heat makes it slide through the cake with less pressure. Hope he loves it! Please let me know how it goes!

  28. Janna
    December 15, 2011 at 7:25 pm (12 years ago)

    Awesome, thank you. I will definitely let you know. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  29. Janna
    December 16, 2011 at 4:22 pm (12 years ago)

    The cake was a success and a great hit! There wasn’t one piece left! 🙂

    The only thing I did differently was add fresh raspberry puree to the whip cream.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      December 16, 2011 at 8:26 pm (12 years ago)

      Oh my gosh, it’s BEAUTIFUL!! You did such a fantastic job! I’m so glad you all enjoyed it! Happy birthday to your brother!

  30. Nicole
    March 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm (12 years ago)

    What are your thoughts about using white chocolate on the top of this cake? It looks absolutely DELISHIOUS, but the person i’m making it for prefers white chocolate (i don’t understand this!) Would white chocolate work with this recipe??

    thanks for this recipe! can’t wait to try it either way!!!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm (12 years ago)

      I think it would work just fine, Nicole! Try it out and let me know how it goes. I can’t think of a reason it wouldn’t work.

  31. Mary Jane
    January 12, 2013 at 6:54 am (11 years ago)

    Want to make the minis! My daughter, her boyfriend and another friend have same birthday. I usually make 3 cakes. This is so much better! They love cheesecake, too. Can I make the minis using cupcake tins and liners, and then remove the liners after construction?

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      January 12, 2013 at 7:06 am (11 years ago)

      You can, Mary Jane, but I’m not sure if the sides would stay cute — I might get some cute grease-proof liners and then just leave the liners on 🙂

  32. Sheila Segraves
    January 30, 2013 at 1:35 am (11 years ago)

    Do you cook the cookie dough layer?

      • Sheila Segraves
        January 30, 2013 at 4:46 pm (11 years ago)

        Thanks! I’m making this cake for my daughter. I can hardly wait!!

  33. Karen Hall
    February 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm (11 years ago)

    When you say to mix in the flour for the cheesecake do I also add in the tablespoon of yellow cake mix? I could find any place else that it call for just one tablespoon.


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