Classic Ice Cream Cake
Classic Ice Cream Cake! Yes! This is the recipe that has been missing from Lemon & Mocha for far too long. As you all know, myself and my family are all obsessed with ice cream. And let’s be honest, most people are obsessed with ice cream. So when you tell people the cake you made is not just a cake, but an ice cream cake, you are guaranteed to get an overly enthusiastic response.
Other than my Perfect Chocolate Chips Cookies and my Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes, ice cream cakes are the dessert I have made the most. I was debating titling this recipe Classic Birthday Ice Cream Cake, but this cake is too delicious and versatile to be relegated to only birthdays. Family cookouts, graduation parties, 4th of July, that random Tuesday when you got an ice cream cake craving – all valid celebrations for this cake.
I’ve shared plenty of ice cream pie recipes on here before, from the decadent Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae Ice Cream Pie to the flavor-packed Pumpkin Pecan Ice Cream Pie to the fan favorite Stracciatella Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Pie, and while those are all great specialty options, this recipe is for a full cake version and is called classic for a reason. We have a bottom crunch layer followed by two layers of ice cream that sandwich together another crunch layer and a sauce layer. The whole cake is then frosted with whipped cream, just like you would get at your neighborhood ice cream shop or Dairy Queen.
The beauty of this cake, aside from it being a definite crowd-pleaser (although that might be a bad thing if you were expecting leftovers!), is that you can customize it to your favorite ice cream flavors, preferred crunch ingredient and ideal sauce component. My Dad had a big birthday over the weekend (70!) and since he is the ultimate ice cream fanatic I had to bust out this ice cream cake. I went fairly traditional, using Oreo cookie crumbs for the crunch layer, chocolate ganache for the sauce layer and chocolate and black raspberry ice cream. The combination was pure perfection! What is your ideal ice cream cake combination?
What flavors of ice cream should I use?
Whatever flavors you prefer! You will need 1.5 quarts of each flavor. You could go traditional with vanilla and chocolate or mix it up with cookies and cream and peanut butter cup!
What should I use for the crunch layer?
Oreo cookie crumbs and graham cracker crumbs are my two favorites. I like to use Oreo cookie crumbs when I’m using chocolate in the cake and graham cracker crumbs when I’m having a more vanilla or fruit-forward flavored ice cream cake. Speculoos cookie crumbs, crushed pretzels and chocolate chip cookie crumbs are other great options. This is a great layer to adapt based on the season as well, such as gingersnap cookies in the fall or peppermint cookies in the winter. Whatever you use, make sure they are crumbs and not chunks.
What should I use for the sauce layer?
Chocolate ganache is my go-to since everyone loves it. It has a great fudgy texture in the ice cream cake. Ganache sounds fancy, but it’s easy to make: heat cream then stir in chocolate chips and butter until melted and smooth. You could make a peanut butter version by using peanut butter chips instead. Or go in a completely different direction and use marshmallow topping.
What size pan should I use?
I use a 9-inch springform pan that I line with two pieces of plastic wrap to make it even easier to take the cake out. The springform pan is nice because it is deep and you’re able to take off the ring for easy removal; a regular 9-inch cake pan will not be deep enough. Alternatively if you use a 9-inch by 3-inch round cake pan then it should be deep enough.
How do I make the ice cream layers smooth?
I was making ice cream cakes for years before I stumbled on this little trick: beat your ice cream to make it spreadable without making it melty. I use the paddle attachment on my stand mixer. If you try to scoop right from the ice cream container into the cake pan you will get a combination of ice cream that is both too melted and too hard to be smoothed and packed in properly. You can certainly do it that way, I just wouldn’t recommend it. Beating the ice cream is the best way to ensure all the ice cream will fit in the pan and you will have smooth and packed ice layers when you cut into the cake.
How do I frost the cake with whipped cream?
Frosting with whipped cream can be a little fussy so I’ve taken special care to write up a detailed step-by-step in the recipe. It’s not complicated; I’ve just found there are certain steps you need to follow if you want it looking like the ice cream cakes you get at your local shop. After you do it once you will be a pro for life! I used a Wilton #22 star tip for the piping. If you don’t need it looking picture perfect you can skip all those steps and just pile a whole bunch of whipped cream on the top of your cake. It will still taste just as good!
- 2⅓ cups Oreo cookie crumbs (about 18 Oreos)
- 1½ quarts chocolate ice cream
- 2½ cups heavy cream, divided
- 1⅓ cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1½ quarts black raspberry ice cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Sprinkles, for decorating
- Line a 9-inch springform pan with plastic wrap so it goes up and over the sides. I use 2 pieces. Spread 1 cup of the Oreo cookie crumbs into the lined springform. Use the flat bottom of a small measuring cup to press down firmly into an even layer.
- Scoop the container of chocolate ice cream into the bowl of a stand mixer then beat with your paddle attachment until smooth and spreadable. Use a rubber spatula to spoon over the cookie crumb layer and spread into an even layer. Put in the freezer.
- Make the chocolate ganache. Heat ½ cup of the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until just steaming. Reduce heat to low and add the chocolate chips. Stir until melted then add the butter. Stir until the butter has melted and the ganache is smooth and shiny. Remove from the heat and let cool. Once the ganache has cooled (doesn’t need to be room temperature, just not too warm), take the ice cream cake from the freezer and add the remaining 1⅓ cups Oreo crumbs. Spread into an even layer, pressing down slightly. Pour the cooled chocolate ganache over top and return the cake to the freezer.
- Once the ganache has mostly set, scoop the container of black raspberry ice cream into the bowl of a stand mixer then beat with your paddle attachment until smooth and spreadable. Use a rubber spatula to spoon over the chocolate ganache layer and spread into an even layer. Put in the freezer and let set until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Make the whipped cream. Place a metal mixing bowl or the metal bowl of a stand mixer in the freezer along with the metal beaters or beater for 5-10 minutes. Remove and add the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream (make sure your cream is cold), powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium-high until stiff peaks form. If you just want to frost the top of the cake, follow the directions in the note at the bottom of the recipe. If you want to frost the cake with the whipped cream like in the photos, keep reading.
- Take the cake out of the freezer and open the ring of the springform pan. Use the plastic wrap to lift up the cake; carefully remove the plastic wrap and transfer the cake to a cake board or platter (that will still fit in your freezer). Working quickly, cover the top and sides of the cake with a crumb coat of the whipped cream. This means you put a light layer all over the cake, but there will be ice cream and cookie crumbs in it. This will help give you a smooth surface for the next layer. Return to the freezer until mostly firm (and store the whipped cream, still in the metal bowl, in the fridge). When the crumb coat is firm, remove from the freezer and use an offset spatula to apply a second coat of the whipped cream on the top and sides, smoothing as you go. Return to the freezer. At this point you will probably need to re-whip your whipped cream in order for it to be stiff enough to pipe. Re-whip the whipped cream on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Add the whipped cream to a piping bag fit with your preferred piping tip. I used a Wilton #22 star tip. Take the cake from the freezer and pipe stars all along the top border. Then pipe a decorative line around the bottom edge of the cake where it meets the cake board or platter. Decorate with sprinkles and store in the freezer until ready to serve. The cake can usually be cut right out of the freezer with a sharp knife.
- You can make the ganache ahead of time if you prefer. Store in the fridge until ready to use and then gently heat in the microwave until smooth and pourable before using.
- If you just want to frost the top of the cake, follow these directions: Pile the whipped cream on top and leave in the freezer until ready to serve. When ready to serve, open the ring of the springform pan. Use the plastic wrap to lift up the cake; carefully remove the plastic wrap and transfer the cake to a cake board or platter.
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