When I asked Carmelle what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday this year, and she replied, “ice cream cake,” I was stumped. I mean, not so stumped. I’ve had ice cream cake before. I understand the concept. But I’ve certainly never made one. In a summer cooking camp I did when I was younger, I made a baked alaska, but I certainly wasn’t going to attempt that. My mom used to make a version of ice cream cake with Ho hos: she would take a big metal bowl, line it with slices of Ho hos, fill the bowl with ice cream, freeze it, and then turn it out, so it looked something like this.
So I suppose it was officially time to learn to make my own ice cream cake. I had a choice to make: do I make the kind with an actual layer of cake in it? Or do I make the kind that just has layers of ice cream and chocolate sauce and magical cookie crumbles?
I decided to go with the latter. If I’d had more time I would’ve made my own ice cream, it turned out it was a crazy weekend (full of Valentine’s Day, a bar mitzvah, work, and an Amos Lee concert), so there wasn’t time for that madness. Still though, ice cream making is on my to-do list.
I decided to use a recipe from Not Without Salt (NWS) as a guideline, except I wanted to just buy Oreo crumbs at the store instead of making my own chocolate wafers. At this point, I was thinking more along the lines of cake assembly than actual creation. Don’t judge me. After hitting the grocery store (note to self: NEVER go to Fred Meyer’s on a Sunday again), and not finding Oreo crumbs or any wafers I liked, I decided to make them myself. And because I’ve been eyeing Smitten Kitchen’s chocolate wafers, I decided to go with that recipe. Interestingly, something I noticed after I had already made the wafers was that both Smitten Kitchen and Not Without Salt identify Alice Medrich as the cook behind the recipe for their wafers, though they do differ a bit. What I’m saying is, if you decide to go with NWS’s chocolate wafer recipe, I’m sure it will be just as delicious.
Ice Cream Cake
Note: For your ice cream, I would suggest something smooth like coffee, or with small pieces in it, like mint chocolate chip. Carmelle requested cookie dough ice cream, and while it was certainly delicious to get the chunks of cookie dough, it made it a little trickier to slice and serve.
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup + 2 Tbl sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
14 Tbl (1 3/4 sticks) butter, softened
3 Tbl milk (higher fat is better, because we’re baking here, people)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Fudge Sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup corn syrup (I used dark because I liked the slight molasses smell to it, but light or golden syrup will work)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup (6 oz) bittersweet chocolate (you can use chopped baking chocolate or chips, whatever is convenient for you)
2 Tbl butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 gallon of ice cream of your choice, or 2 quarts of ice creams of your choice
First, let’s make the wafers. In the bowl of your food processor, combine the dry ingredients and pulse to mix. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the bowl as well, pulsing again until evenly distributed. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla extract, and then add it to the bowl with the food processor running. Transfer the dough to a bowl and knead a few times to bring it together. On a piece of parchment or wax paper, form the dough into a ~14-inch log, wrap it in the parchment or wax paper, and refrigerate for an hour, or freeze for 20-30 minutes, or until firm.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice the log of dough into ~1/4 inch slices, thinner if you’d like, but keep an eye on baking time. Place them on pans about an inch apart, and bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through. Allow to cool on the pan for a minute or two, as they’ll break easily. Which, for our purposes isn’t the end of the world, but you will have extras, and maybe you want those to be unbroken.
Chocolate Fudge Sauce
Before making the fudge, I recommend taking your ice cream out of the freezer to soften.
To make the fudge, combine the cream, corn syrup, sugar, and cocoa powder in a pan. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a steady simmer. Allow it to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate, butter, salt, and vanilla. Keep stirring so the chocolate and butter melt, and run through a sieve, preferably into a microwave safe bowl, make sure there are no clumps of cocoa powder. My fudge had a little trouble, and decided to separate (super fun!). Jonah had the brilliant idea to just get out the immersion blender, and I would suggest the same should the separation happen to you. But I sincerely hope it doesn’t. Set fudge aside and let it cool down a bit. Because you have to make this cake in layers and freeze between each layer, the microwave safe bowl comes in handy when you need to warm up (and potentially blend) your fudge sauce.
Now let’s assemble the cake. Put about 20-25 of the chocolate wafers in a big ziploc bag, and beat it with a rolling pin, until the cookies are completely crumbled and there are no pieces larger than a pea. In an 8 or 9 inch springform pan, spread 1/2 of your gallon of ice cream, or one of the quarts. Make sure it’s evenly spread, so it’s roughly the same thickness all the way around the pan. Sprinkle half the cookie crumbs on the ice cream, and then drizzle/spread half the hot fudge over the cookie. Put the pan in the freezer for 30-45 minutes to set. After it has firmed up a bit, spread the second half of ice cream over the fudge, then sprinkle over the remaining cookie crumbs and spread over that the remaining fudge. Put the cake in the freezer until you’re ready to serve, at least an hour.
When you’re ready to eat this bad boy, remove from the freezer and run a knife around the edge before un-molding the cake. Serve and enjoy!