Birthdays. Anniversaries. Graduations. New babies. Promotions. Engagements. Picnics. Barbecues. New boat. New car. New dog. New haircut. Friends over to visit. Fridays . . .
Any reason to celebrate. All reasons to have ice-cream cake, your own homemade ice cream cake.
And it’s so easy. Thanks to my friend, Elsa, who passed on this recipe years ago, we’ve been enjoying homemade ice cream cakes for years. And you can, too, ’cause here’s the recipe.
Actually not even a recipe – just a method. Nothing to it.
You can use all sorts of flavours and add-ins to make it your very own, super-secret family recipe (I won’t tell). People will beg you to divulge how in the world you made it yourself, and you can just smile mysteriously and say, oh, it’s much too complicated to explain and then close your eyes and slide another decadent forkful into your mouth, sighing happily while you moan with pleasure.
Or some such scenario.
(This cake is a bit of a departure from totally healthy ingredients. I kind of cringe when I use the frozen whipped topping, and I will definitely try a real whipped cream topping next time, but I figure it’s still better than buying a prepared ice cream cake from the store, which was my daughter’s request for her birthday. Besides, I knew I could make this one gluten-free for her.)
Kitchen Frau Note: Please excuse the rushed picture above. I had a group of desperate party-guest friends of my daughter waiting impatiently for the cake. I was serving as fast as I cut it and forgot to get a picture of an individual piece so you could see the inside layers. It looked pretty with the small pink chunks of frozen strawberries in it. I usually make it without them, but they were a refreshing addition.
When I make the gluten-free version, no one can tell. I use gluten-free Oreo-type or gluten-free graham or other cookies for the crust, and make sure all the other ingredients are gluten-free, too.
I have used all kinds of ice cream flavour combinations. This cake was large (10½” springform pan) and had a cookie crust (unbaked, and made with an 8-oz, or 220gm package Oreo-type cookies). The base layer was chocolate ice cream (about 2 litres ice cream). Then came 8 crushed Skor bars sprinkled in the middle (a few reserved for the garnish) and a vanilla ice cream layer (about 1 litre) with mixed-in finely diced fresh strawberries (about 1 cup). It was topped with the Cool Whip topping and garnished with the reserved crushed Skor bars.
You can use a regular graham wafer crust, baked or unbaked, or any other crushed cookies mixed with some melted butter (about ¼ cup). You could put a layer of chocolate fudge sauce or caramel sauce or dulce de leche in the middle, or crushed chocolate bars or cookie crumbs of any kind. You could even use three layers of different ice creams. You could stir finely minced fresh fruit into one of the layers, or mint chocolate chips, or finely chopped nuts, finely crushed candy canes or peanut brittle, or sprinkles. Let your imagination run wild.
I’ve used chocolate and eggnog ice creams for a Christmas ice cream cake, strawberry and vanilla ice creams with chocolate fudge, butter pecan and vanilla with caramel sauce . . . If you don’t like the idea of frozen whipped topping, try whipping cream sweetened with icing sugar (I haven’t tried it yet, but I think you’d have to make it quite sweet so that it didn’t freeze too hard.)
The hardest part about making this cake is remembering to take the ice creams out of the freezer to soften for each layer and leaving the cake to harden in between.
Homemade Ice Cream Cake
- 2 complementary flavours of ice cream (1 to 2 litres of each)
- graham wafer or cookie crumbs (about 1½ cups/375ml or a bit more)
- melted butter (about ¼ cup/60ml)
- chocolate bars (4 to 8), cookie crumbs (1 to 2 cups), fudge or caramel sauce (maybe a cup) for middle layer
- frozen whipped topping (about one 500ml container) for top layer
- chocolate shavings, additional cookie crumbs, additional crushed chocolate bars or chopped nuts or sprinkles for the top
Have ready: a springform pan, whatever size you think you need to feed the crowd you are serving. About ½ hour before you are about to start, remove the ice cream you will use for the base layer from the freezer, and let it stand at room temperature to soften.
Layer 1: Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter or margarine. Either process the crumbs in the food processor and pulse in the melted butter, or mix them in a bowl.Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of your springform pan. (Graham wafer crusts I have usually baked and let cool. The oreo crumb crust, I left unbaked, because the cream filling held it together well enough.)
Layer 2: In a large bowl stir the softened ice cream with a large spoon until it is smooth and uniformly creamy (this is just like when you were a kid and you stirred your ice cream until it was soft and your parents told you not to play with your food.) You can also mix it in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but I like playing with my food. This stirring stage is important, as it is what makes the ice cream really dense and smooth in the cake. You want all the fluffiness removed. Spread a thick layer of the softened ice cream over the crust. You are aiming for about 1 inch (2.2cm) deep. Depending on the size of springform pan you use, this could take from 1 to 2 litres of ice cream. If you have too much, refreeze it to eat later for a soft-serve ice cream treat.
Layer 3: The middle surprise layer. If you are using cookie or chocolate bar crumbs, put them into a sturdy zip-locked bag and lay them on a cutting board. Beat them gently with a rolling pin or meat hammer to break them into smallish chunks (not fine crumbs). This is a manly job – so Andreas volunteered for it. Sprinkle or spread on top of the ice cream, a layer of your crushed cookie crumbs, or crushed candy bars, or fudge or caramel sauce (either home-made or purchased). Put the cake into the freezer to harden for about 1 hour or more.
Layer 4: About ½ hour before you remove it from the freezer, take out your second flavour of ice cream to sit and soften. Repeat the process of stirring it until creamy with a spoon. Depending on the size of the pan, you may only need about 1 litre of ice cream. Spread a thick layer of the softened ice cream over your middle surprise layer. This layer should take you to a within about 1 cm from the top of the springform pan. Return the cake to the freezer to harden for another hour or more. Remove the frozen whipped topping from the freezer to soften.
Layer 5 and garnish: Spread about 1 cm (½”) of the defrosted whipped topping over the cake. Sprinkle with a bit of the reserved cookie or chocolate bar crumbs, chocolate shavings, chopped nuts, maraschino cherries, sprinkles – whatever strikes your fancy. (Or write a congratulatory message on top with gel icing.)
Freeze again for 3 to 4 hours or until firm.
To serve, remove the cake from the freezer about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Run a knife around the outside edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Release the side wall of the springform and cut the cake into wedges with a large knife dipped into hot water between each slice.
Mmm mmm mmm…….