My sweet little boy got his tonsils and adenoids removed the week before Easter.
So, I decided I would try to make it a little easier for him to enjoy the Easter goodies by making an ice cream cake.
(I did not, however, get great pictures of the finished product because of the recovering child, and a family that was rather eager to dig in!)
I’d never made one before, and I have to say, even though it wasn’t exactly easy or quick, it wasn’t really hard either. It just takes some pre-planning. In order to get everything ready, you need to plan to get the pieces in the freezer at least a day ahead of time.
What You Need:
The recipes for each of these is linked or posted below
Chocolate Cake (homemade or from a mix)
Chocolate Ice Cream (homemade or store bought)
Chocolate Fudge Sauce (homemade or store bought)
Whipped Cream Frosting
Go nuts! Sprinkles, crushed up candy, mini chocolate chips, crushed Oreos, fresh fruit, etc.
Honestly, for this, I had read that making a scratch cake, while wonderful, is a little overkill for an ice cream cake because you don’t get a whole ton of cake flavor from it. So, I doctored up a chocolate cake mix. Although, I really do love my Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe, so if I’d have had more time, I may have gone for that.
I made the cake about two days ahead of time. I baked an 8″x3″ round cake, which was more than I needed. Baking just one typical 8″ cake layer would be enough, I think.
Wrap the cake well in plastic wrap, and freeze it before assembly. (That makes it easier to pick it up and move it around.)
Make the Ice Cream
Even if you’re not making your own ice cream, you need to “shape” the ice cream into cake-sized disks a day or so ahead of time. (If you’re using store-bought ice cream, skip below the homemade ice cream recipe.)
Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe:
(Yield: about 1 quart)
2 cups half-and-half
4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the half-and-half over medium heat until bubbles just form along the sides of the pan.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla and sugar.
In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the cream for about 30 seconds or until hot to the touch, but not boiling. Add the chocolate (and cocoa powder, if desired), and let set for about 30 seconds. Whisk until it is a smooth, dark, yummy chocolate.
When the half-and-half is warmed, slowly add about 1/2-1 cup of the warmed half-and-half into the egg yolk mixture, whisking the entire time, to keep the yolks from curdling.
Then, pour the now slightly warmed egg yolk mixture very slowly back into the half-and-half that remains on the stove, again whisking the entire time. Add the chocolate mixture, again whisking the entire time.
Bring this custard mixture up to 160-degrees. Remove from the heat and cool until lukewarm.
Pour into a food storage container, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Mix with an ice cream maker until it is the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
Create Ice Cream Layers
To create your ice cream layers, you need to make little “cakes” of ice cream to stack with the actual cake layers.
If you’re using store-bought ice cream (which is really, really, totally fine), set the ice cream out of the freezer, and stir it often for 30-45 minutes or until it becomes soft-serve ice cream consistency.
If you’re using the homemade kind… you would do this straight out of the ice cream maker.
Line a cake pan (the same size you used for your cakes) with plastic wrap. I made it like a + with one long sheet horizontally and one vertically.
Pour or spoon the ice cream into the pan, and spread as evenly as possible. You may want to tap the cake pan bottom, gently, on the counter top to help even the layer.
Wrap the plastic wrap around the ice cream layer, and set on a level place inside your freezer. (Finding some place level was a challenge in my freezer!) Allow to freeze solid- overnight would be best!
Now, truth be told, the OCD in me had a hard time wrapping this layer in plastic wrap knowing the sides and top would then be bumpy. However, in the end, it was not a big deal because you have to trim the sides anyway, and the top/bottom kind of melts into the cake or the fudge.
Make the Fudge Sauce
Okay, this sauce is FANTASTIC! I got the recipe– with a few small changes thanks to what I had on-hand from the amazing website smitten kitchen.
Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce
Yield: 2 cups
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or baking chocolate)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Combine the cream, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa, salt and 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips to a boil. (I found it hard to tell when it was really boiling. Keep a close watch, and stir it often.)
Reduce heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in remaining chocolate, butter and vanilla, and stir until smooth.
Cool the sauce to lukewarm before serving.
Assemble the Cake
For the cake, I recommend three layers of cake that are about 1/2″ thick, and two layers of ice cream that are about 1″ thick. This makes a big cake. But, doing the ice cream on the bottom means you have to be really, really careful about it melting when you take it out of the freezer. (I learned this the hard way.)
However, when I made the cake with all three 1″ layers of cake, and my ice cream which was more like 1.5″ tall… it was too big to fit into the freezer. (As you can see above.)
So, I took off the lowest layer of cake. But then when it started to melt, it started to puddle. If the cake had been under it, it could have just melted into the cake a little.
Starting with the first layer of cake, spread a layer of hot fudge sauce on the cake. You could then add some crushed cookies or candy. I left it plain for my little guy who wasn’t swallowing anything with bits yet.
Then, unwrap the first of the ice cream layers. (Leave it in the freezer until you are done with the fudge layer. The less time you have it out of the freezer during this process, the better.)
Place it on top of the cake/fudge layers. It will likely overhang the cake a little because the cake will shrink back from the sides of the pan a bit.
Use a knife to trim the ice cream to the size of the cake. (This is a messy step.)
Repeat with another layer of cake, fudge, ice cream, and finish with the last layer of cake. Put the cake back into the freezer for about 15-20 minutes to firm up again while you make the icing.
*Note: Because I removed that bottom layer of cake, I also had an extra challenge in that now my bottom layer was fudge sauce, which is sticky, so cutting the pieces was not easy.
Make the Icing
Whipped Cream Icing
Yield: approx. 3-3.5 cups
4 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, vanilla and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy.
With the mixer on medium, slowly pour a thin stream of the whipping cream into the cream cheese mixture, lightening up the cream cheese until it is well-combined. Stop to scrape down the bowl, if necessary. You do not want any chunks of cream cheese.
Mix on high until stiff peaks form.
Frost and Decorate the Cake
You will want to make a thick layer of icing for this cake. So, heap a whole bunch of it on top of the cake.
Smooth the icing on the top, then the sides. If you need to put the cake back in the freezer during this part, you can, but it will make the icing harder to spread.
(Click the link for a complete tutorial on How to Frost a Cake.)
I used an icing comb to add the cool ridges around the sides, but you could also cut shapes into an index card and run it around the sides like you see on this blog post from iambaker.
At this point, I recommend putting the cake back in the freezer yet again for about 15 minutes.
Spread a layer of fudge sauce on the top. Pipe shells around the top, and along the bottom edge. I used the big cupcake tip, #1M, for these shells.
Now, if my little guy wasn’t sick, I would have also added some fun, colorful sprinkles around the edge. Everyone loves sprinkles!
I served this with my toppings on the side… I did some crushed up candy canes (my favorite), and some chopped peanuts, some chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and some finely diced strawberries (my healthy little guy’s favorite).
Again, sorry for the lack of great pictures of the finished product.
I recommend taking the cake out of the freezer about 15-20 minutes before serving. Use a big, sharp knife to cut this cake. It is not easy to get through the thick layers of cake.
I can honestly say this was a HUGE hit. Rarely do my in-laws go back for seconds with my desserts. They have willpower when it comes to sweets… unlike me. They all went back for more. Even though, it is rich! That fudge sauce is amazingly rich! Whew!
I have a feeling more ice cream cakes will be to follow!! Stay tuned. (And maybe I’ll get better pictures next time.)