Recipes from Cake by Courtney
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Rich Recipes

It was “a bit of a train wreck,” says Courtney Carlston Rich (BA ’05) of the first cake she made from scratch. With no culinary training, she had baked it for her son’s first birthday, secretly hoping to impress her foodie in-laws. It wasn’t pretty, but the cake tasted amazing, and Rich knew she wanted to try again. Experimenting during her son’s nap time, she began to find peace, joy, and clarity in the kitchen. Now Rich thrives as she concocts unique recipes and shares them on her blog, Cake by Courtney, to help others indulge in happy moments. Here she shares two of her most popular cake recipes. 

Chocolate Cheesecake Cake

A slice of chocolate cheesecake cake on a plate with lights in the background.
Photo by Bradley Slade

25 Oreo cookies, finely ground 
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted 
1/2 tsp. salt 


8 oz. cream cheese 
3/4 c. granulated sugar 
1 Tbsp. cornstarch 
1 Tbsp. milk 
1 whole egg 
1 egg yolk 
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips 
1/4 tsp. salt 


2 c. all-purpose flour 
1 3/4 c. sugar 
3/4 c. dark cocoa powder 
2 tsp. baking soda 
1 tsp. salt 
1 c. buttermilk, room temperature 
1/2 c. vegetable oil 
3 eggs, room temperature 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 c. hot water 

Buttercream Frosting

1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature 
1 c. powdered sugar, sifted 
3/4 c. dark cocoa powder 
3/4 c. light corn syrup 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled 
1/2 tsp. salt 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside. 

Combine all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Mixture should resemble wet sand. Evenly divide crumbs between the three pans and firmly pat into an even crust. Set aside. 

Mix dry cake ingredients on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, water, and vanilla. Slowly add wet ingredients to the dry, mixing constantly. 

Pour batter over prepared cookie crusts. Bake 25–30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out nearly clean.

For cheesecake filling, preheat oven to 325. Spray 8 x 8 baking pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat sugar and cream cheese until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, cornstarch, and salt. Add milk mixture to sugar mixture and combine. Stir in the egg and egg yolk. Beat on medium speed or by hand for a couple minutes. Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake 20–25 minutes, or until slightly set around edges and soft in the middle. Let cool completely, then fold in mini chocolate chips.

To make buttercream frosting, heat semisweet chocolate chips in microwave for one minute. Stir until smooth and silky.

In food processor combine butter, powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt. Mix until smooth. Add corn syrup and vanilla; mix until just combined. Add melted chocolate. Pulse until mixture is smooth.

Place first cake layer top-side-up in the middle of cake board. Pipe a rim of buttercream around edge of cake, then evenly spread about 1 c. of cheesecake filling inside the rim. Place second cake layer on top and repeat with buttercream and cheesecake filling. Place final cake layer top-side-down on second layer of filling.

Apply a thin coat of frosting around entire cake to lock in crumbs. Freeze 10–15 minutes. After crumb coat sets, finish frosting and decorating cake with remaining buttercream.

Biscoff Strawberry Cake

A slice of biscoff strawberry cake with pink frosting and multiple layers.
Photo by Courtney Rich


18 Biscoff or speculoos cookies
2 c. and 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 c. buttermilk, room temperature


1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. Biscoff spread (or other cookie butter)
1 c. powdered sugar, sifted
3–4 fresh strawberries, sliced

Buttercream Frosting

2 c. unsalted butter, slightly chilled
4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 c. freeze-dried strawberries, pulverized
1/4 c. strawberry jelly
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.

Place Biscoff cookies in food processor or blender and pulse until cookies are finely ground and resemble flour. In a medium bowl, combine Biscoff crumbs, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1/3 of dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Slowly add half the buttermilk and mix. Continue alternating adding dry ingredients and buttermilk until all has been incorporated into the batter.

Divide batter evenly among pans and bake for 35–40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out nearly clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan before inverting onto cooling racks to cool completely.

To make filling, beat butter and Biscoff spread until light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar. Beat for 2–3 minutes.

For the frosting, cream butter, then slowly add powdered sugar and freeze-dried strawberries until combined. Add jelly, vanilla, and cream. Beat for 5 minutes until light in color and texture.

Divide each cake layer laterally in half to create four thin layers. Place first cake layer on cake board and top with 1 c. filling. Crumble three cookies into small pieces and press into filling. Place second cake layer on top and spread 1 c. buttercream frosting over the top. Place sliced strawberries into buttercream.

Add third layer to cake and top with another layer of filling and crumbled cookies. Place final cake layer top-side-down on top of cake. Apply a thin crumb coat of buttercream and chill in freezer for 10 minutes to set. Finish frosting with buttercream.