Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Cake

This Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Cake is made with pink and white layers of vanilla cake, filled with a crushed up frosted animal cookie filling and covered in white chocolate buttercream! It’s so much like eating frosted animal cookies in cake form and I love it!

Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Cake

Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Cake decorated on white stand

Frosted Animal Cookies (aka Circus Animal Cookies) are easily one of my favorite cookies. I’ve been eating them since I was a kid and find them to be pretty addicting. I mean a cookie that’s basically covered in a white chocolate frosting type coating? Oh yea, sign me up!

When I made this Frosted Animal Cookie Cheesecake, I had no idea how much of a hit it would be. Clearly I’m not the only one with a love for these cookies that runs deep. So naturally the next treat in line would be a layer cake, since I’m such a fan.

This Frosted Animal Cookie Layer Cake, which I suppose you could also call a Circus Animal Cookie Cake, is everything I wanted it to be. Pink and white, full of frosted animal cookies, with plenty of white chocolate frosting. If there’s a heaven for frosted animal cookie lovers, this is it.

angled view of cake slice on white plateFrosted Circus Animal Cookie Layer Cake angled view showing pink drip

Making a Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Cake

While there are several steps to making this cake, it really isn’t hard. You start off with a vanilla cake. The base of these cookies is actually a vanilla shortbread cookie, so vanilla is what I went with. I wanted to incorporate the fun colors of the cookies all the way into the cake layers, so I divided the batter in half and colored half of it pink with gel icing color. I love the way the alternating layers turned out!

The filling is definitely me favorite part, since that’s where the circus animal cookies come in. It’s sort of like a frosting consistency, but instead of being made primarily from powdered sugar, there’s LOADS of crushed up frosted animal cookies.

The cookie crumbs are combined with butter, a little powdered sugar for volume, some vanilla extract and then a little moisture from water or milk so that you get it to a nice consistency for filling a cake. It’s like eating a bunch of crumbled up circus animal cookies. Yum!

The frosting is a delicious white chocolate buttercream. White chocolate is a flavor that is relatively subtle, so it can be hard to get it to come through in treats. This frosting has a full 12 ounce bag of white chocolate chips melted into it, so it actually has a lovely white chocolate flavor that is perfect for this cake!

Once put together, the cake is drizzled with pink white chocolate ganache, kissed by a few sprinkles and topped with some swirls of frosting and frosted circus animal cookies. The whole thing brings me back to childhood and reminds me of these cookies in the best way! Such a fun cake for an occasion – or just when you have a craving for both cake and circus animal cookies. Bring on the Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Cake!

slice of Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Layer Cake bite taken


Read transcript

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Frosted Animal Cookie Cheesecake
Homemade Circus Animal Cookies
Animal Cookie Snack Mix

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slice of Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Cake
Recipe

Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Cake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 35 minutes, plus cooling time
  • Yield: 12-14 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Cake is made with pink and white layers of vanilla cake, filled with a crushed up frosted animal cookie filling and covered in white chocolate buttercream!


Scale

Ingredients

Vanilla Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (337g) sugar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) milk
  • Pink gel icing color
  • Ivory gel icing color

Frosted Animal Cookie Filling

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (317g) frosted animal cookie crumbs
  • 1 cup (115g) powdered sugar
  • 78 tbsp milk or water
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 15 frosted animal cookies, crumbled

White Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1 1/4 cups (280g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 oz white chocolate chips, melted
  • 6 cups (690g) powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 56 tbsp (60-75ml) heavy whipping cream
  • Sprinkles

Pink Chocolate Ganache

  • 6 oz white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Pink gel icing color

Instructions

1. To make the cake layers, prepare two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
4. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
5. Add the butter, sugar and vegetable oil to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
6. Add the eggs and mix until completely combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
7. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
8. Add the vanilla extract and milk and mix until well combined. The batter will look a little curdled, but that’s ok.
9. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
10. Divide the batter in half. Put one half into one of the cake pans and spread evenly. Color the color half with the pink and ivory gel color, then spread evenly into the other prepared cake pan.
11. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
12. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
13. When you’re ready to build the cake, make the filling. Beat the butter until smooth.
14. Add the animal cookie crumbs and beat until well combined.
15. Add the powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons of water or milk and beat until well combined.
16. Add the vanilla extract, salt and additional water or milk as needed to get the right consistency.
17. Stir in the crumbled animal cookies.
18. To build the cake, torte the two cakes so that you end up with four layers total.
19. Place the first pink layer of cake on a serving plate or cardboard cake circle. Spread about 3/4 cup of the filling into an even layer on top of the cake.
20. Repeat with a layer of white cake and another layer of filling.
21. Add the second layer of pink cake and another layer of filling.
22. Top the cake with the second white layer of cake.
23. If there’s some frosting sticking out from around the edges, try to smooth it out a bit, then set the cake aside.
24. To make the white chocolate buttercream, add the butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
25. Add the melted white chocolate chips in a three batches, mixing until well incorporated and smooth. You want to add it in a few batches to try to ensure that it mixes well, without any lumps forming from the white chocolate.
26. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
27. Add the salt and 3-4 tablespoons of cream, then mix until smooth.
28. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
29. Add additional cream, as needed, until you get the right frosting consistency.
30. Frost the outside of the cake with the buttercream (use my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if you like), then press sprinkles into the sides of the cake.
31. To make the pink ganache, add the white chocolate chips to a medium sized bowl.
32. Add the cream to a microwave safe measuring cup and heat just until it begins to boil. Pour the cream over the white chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. If it doesn’t smooth out completely, microwave in 10 second increments, stirring between each, until the white chocolate is melted and smooth.
33. Add the pink icing color until you reach your desired shade.
34. Drizzle the ganache around the edge of the cake, then fill in the center.
35. Pipe some swirls of the remaining buttercream around the top edge of the cake, then finish it off with some additional animal cookies.


Keywords: circus animal cookie cake, frosted animal cookie cake, circus animal cookie dessert

Enjoy!

collage Frosted Circus Animal Cookie Layer Cake

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Recipe rating

44 Comments
  1. Nancy Carlson

    Please help! Is there enough frosting in this recipe for the crumb coat? I have assembled everything for making this this weekend. Very excited!

  2. Lindsay

    Can I turn this cake recipe into cupcakes so I can use cupcakes with this frosting recipe?  Or is it pretty similar to one of your vanilla cupcake recipes? Thanks!

  3. Kimberly

    I’ve made this recipe twice, 7 days apart; once as a cake and this second time as cupcakes for my (circus animal cookie obsessed) husband to take with him on his next shift at the hospital. The cupcakes turned out super cute and, of course, taste awesome! Thank you for sharing your hard work with us!! These were fun to make and share!

  4. Renee

    Saw this on Pinterest and am making it this week. Already ordered the cookies at Walmart. They arrived all crumbled and a mess but may have to use mothers for the decoration. I would like to know if I can bake the layers and freeze them ahead? Thank you for sharing such a cute nostalgic cake!

  5. Pineconefections

    I made this cake for my 30th birthday, and it was amazing! (Hello, sweet regression!) I ended up with extra pink batter since I didn’t divide the batter in exactly half, so I baked a pink mini cake to top the 4 layers. I tagged you in my Instagram post so that you can see my interpretation, if you’d like! The cake itself is dense like a pound cake, so I had no problem torting it. I omitted the ganache and dyed the frosting pink instead. The filling is so wonderful with those little crunchy sprinkles from the cookies, and the white chocolate buttercream is luscious and velvety. I honestly can’t keep the cake box closed, as I keep going back to whittle off slice after slice!

    ***I reviewed this cake because I actually made it! I didn’t just look at a picture and rate it based on the appearance. (Stop doing that, y’all. Use the heart button on Instagram instead.) I can attest that this cake is, in fact, scrumptious! Thank you for this fabulous recipe, Lindsay! The cake is a showstopper in looks and in taste!***

  6. Cay

    So I want to make this for my granddaughter , I see I calls for ivory gel coloring but it’s not listed in the directions or how much.   Thanks

    1. Lindsay

      It’s listed in step 10 for the cake batter. As for amount, gel icing color is really hard to measure. I usually just use a toothpick and add a small amount at a time until I have the color I want. It’s very concentrated, so you don’t need much usually. I used the ivory color to soften the pink a bit.

  7. Beth

    So I just looked at yesterday then went to the store an bought the ingredients. Today I don’t see the recipe anymore. Did you take it down or is it the website or something else?

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so sorry for the trouble! There was an issue today that affected thousands of sites – mine included. It looks like it’s been resolved, so you should be able to access it here now. Sorry about that!

  8. Lindsey

    Made this cake for my husbands birthday just as directed and it was amazing!!!! Was wondering if it would work in a regular 13×9 pan to just make it a bit quicker to whip up next time when I don’t care as much about appearance?

    1. Lindsay

      It should bake fine, but sometimes turning cakes into a 9×13 can be a little dense, since they are thicker. It might fine, but just wanted to mention it, in case. So glad you enjoyed it!

  9. Alexius

    What kind of cake pans do you use to make your cake layers? BTW everything on your blog looks amazing you’re such a awesome baker!!!

  10. Honey

    Lindsay, saw this beautiful cake I was wondering can you use boxed cake to make this? Gonna try and make this for my daughters Sweet 16 party. 
    She wants a pirate ????‍☠️ cake but with this filling etc. 

    Any advice would be much  appreciated 

  11. Lauren Threadgill

    Hi there! I’m back and planning to make this cake again for a baptism luncheon for a baby boy, so I’m hoping for white and baby blue for the colors. What would you suggest I do in lieu of the animal cookie filling? Would you simply alternate the layers with white chocolate buttercream frosting?

    1. Lindsay

      White chocolate frosting would work. If you wanted to keep the animal cookie theme, you could add the regular unfrosted cookies.

  12. Karen

    This is beautiful!!! When yoh say animal cookie crumbs, are you just pulsing them in a food processor? Also what brand of food coloring do you use? I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ivory food color. Thanks for the recipe. I cant wait to try it out!

  13. Winnie

    I think my daughter would love this for her birthday cake. Would the white chocolate buttercream and Cale recipe hold under fondant? I was told you need a sturdy cake like a Madeira recipe for fondant covered cakes. Help please! 

    1. Lindsay

      The white chocolate buttercream is pretty sturdy, but it depends on the look you’re going for. If you want sharp, clean corners on your fondant covered cake, I’d actually recommend using white chocolate ganache underneath, which will stay firm. That said, I don’t make a lot of fondant cakes.

  14. Sarah

    Made this for my daughter’s 5th birthday today and it turned out picture perfect and delicious. I made the cakes the day before and finished it at my parents where the party was and I forgot my pink coloring so the ganache was a purplish instead. Thanks for the recipe!

  15. Carol Chapin

    How would i go about making this ahead of time? I know i can bake the cakes the night before, but do i cover/wrap them? Am i able to assemble the layers the night before as well? If not, can i make the filling ahead of time, along with the buttercream frosting? HELP! I will be making this for my daughters 1st birthday, but it is out of town. i am pretty new to this whole baking cakes thing haha. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Also, in the filling directions (step 14), is that talking about the 2 1/2 cups or the 15 cookies? Are the cookies crumbled to the same consistency? Thank you again!

    1. Lindsay

      Step 14 is talking about the 2 1/2 cups of animal cookie crumbs. 🙂 You can definitely bake the cakes the night before. I usually store them in an airtight cake-carrier, but you could also wrap them well. You could also assemble the layers the night before – totally fine. I often make full cakes the day before an event. I actually think sometimes that’s better, as the flavors and everything have a chance to sit to get even better. Also, if you’re traveling with the cake, it can be helpful to have a little piece of that stuff that goes underneath rugs to keep it from it from slipping (non-slip padding) – I put it underneath the cake so that it doesn’t slide around while I’m driving. I hope that helps!

  16. Lauren

    I made this precious cake this weekend, and every adult and child just loved it! I have to confess, I bake a LOT (and a lot of tried-and-true, family recipes), and am sometimes a little nervous to branch out and try new recipes/ratios, but this cake was SO moist and tender, and flavorful without being overwhelming. The filling was not too sweet, and I think the white chocolate buttercream really balanced it and totally made the cake taste like one of these cookies!

    A few notes for other people who may be considering trying this: I lost my 8″ cake pans when we moved last, so I used 9″ pans with a slightly reduced bake time and all was well. I did measure my white chocolate chips, powdered sugar, and heavy cream a little generously so I would be sure to have enough frosting to cover a larger cake and decorate and write, and I need not have worried – there was plenty! So now I have a huge bowl of leftover frosting that is just begging me to make some cookie sandwiches this week.

    Oh also, my local stores sell only the Mother’s brand of animal cookies, and it took one entire 11-oz bag to make the crumbs for the filling. I’m glad I had an extra bag on hand for decorating…and quality control testing while I decorated. 😉 Finally, I used pink liquid food coloring drops in the neon variety box rather than gel color, because it’s what I had on hand, and even though my colors weren’t as spot-on as in the photos, it still served its purpose and I was pleased with the outcome.

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes! I’ll be back, for sure! 🙂

  17. Melanie | Melanie Makes

    I can’t wait to strongly suggest that one of my children pick this as their birthday cake! Pinned!

  18. ashley

    Wow, this looks amazing! I love all of your recipes, but this one may become my favorite! Two questions- What brand of animal cookies did you use? And how many bags did you buy? Thank you so much!

      1. Brian

        Ashley- for what it’s worth I went through three 11 oz bags of Mother’s brand frosted animal crackers (had to order them on Amazon). BUT that includes all the ones I had snacking while baking- if you can resist eating them, you can probably get away with two!

  19. Caron

    So beautiful! And so adorable. I would LOVE to see a video of you doing this one! I know you got your hands full with those babies but I am so anxious to have some new videos of yours to watch, they’re always so fun ♥♥♥

  20. Annette

    Love, love, love! I have some cookies leftover from a Beyond Frosting recipe and hope I can try this one soon. Gorgeous!

    1. Natalie Brown

      I plan on making this in a couple days but I don’t really want to fool too much with making the cake layers. Is a box cake mix okay? If so, should I use 1 or 2 boxes?

      1. Lindsay

        Cake mix would be fine. How many depends on how tall of a cake and layers you want. I’m guessing 1 1/2 boxes is closest to the height I have.

  21. Suzy-q

    Oh my gosh, Lindsay! This cake is sooo cute! My granddaughters will absolutely love it! I’ll have to make it for them soon. Thanks!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12