Not Recipes

How to Make Ice Cream Cake without a Recipe

By • June 9, 2014 • 15 Comments

Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Break away from the freezer aisle, and start making ice cream cake with whatever flavors you fancy.

How to Make Ice Cream Cake

“Mocha chip. No, cookies 'n' cream. Ah -- I haven’t had black raspberry in years. Do I order two flavors or just one? Do I want a kiddie size or a small?”

Choosing an ice cream flavor, at times, weighs as heavily on one’s conscience as choosing a university. After staring at a seemingly endless list of options, you pull the trigger. 

More: You could also turn your favorite ice cream into a float -- with anything from booze, to soda, to seltzer.

That same pondering doesn't usually apply to ice cream cake selection; the freezer aisle does not inspire much internal debate. Although the traditional chocolate-and-vanilla frosted cake and the spherical, watermelon-colored roll are classic standbys, homemade versions allow for freedom of flavor. Instead of putting yourself within a frigid box, choose your own flavors and layer them on top of a crunchy, delicately buttery crust, then layer them with more crunch, and maybe some hot fudge. You'll get all the enjoyment of an ice cream stand, minus the mosquito bites.

Here's how to make whatever ice cream cake you like, without a recipe:

How to Make Ice Cream Cake

1. Select your flavors (overachievers can use homemade ice cream) and fillings of choice; keep in mind that the more flavors you use, the taller the cake will be. Hot fudge, cookie crumbs -- really anything can go in between the ice cream layers.

Ice Cream Cake

2. The cake shape will vary depending on the dish you use -- I recommend a springform pan or a pie dish. When using springform, place a parchment round on the bottom of the pan. If you'll be frosting your cake, use a springform. If you're using a pie plate, thinly coat the bottom of the pan with butter.

To make your crust, crush 1 to 1 1/2 packs of chocolate wafer cookies (or another cookie of your choice) into crumbs and mix with a few tablespoons melted butter. Press down lightly along the bottom of the pan (inch or so high); you can even pack it down with the bottom of a meauring cup. Freeze for at least an hour. Save some un-buttered crumbs for your filling!

More: You'll also need those chocolate wafers to make a 2-ingredient icebox cake.

For an alternative crust, combine equal parts flour and brown sugar with five times that amount of crumbs and melted butter -- you'll want about 2 cups of dry ingredients for each stick of butter. Bake it in a low oven for a few minutes, then evenly add to the bottom of the pan and freeze. (I learned this tip from Rachel at Reasons to Be Cheerful in Concord, MA.)

How to Make Ice Cream Cake

3. Remove one pint of ice cream from the freezer and let it sit until it's soft enough to stir, about 30 minutes. If you like, stir chocolate chips or chopped candy into the ice cream. Spread it evenly on top of the crust, then freeze for an hour.

Ice Cream Cake

4. Add a dividing layer. Use your extra cookie crumbs here; if you want to use hot fudge, melt it then cool it to room temperature before spreading over ice cream. (If you're using both hot fudge and cookie crumbs, layer on the fudge first; it's easier that way.) Peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and caramel are good options, too -- be careful with caramel, though, as it will harden. Freeze for another hour. 

Ice Cream Cake

5. Take out another pint of ice cream to thaw, then spread it evenly as you did with the previous layers. Freeze it for another hour.

Continue to layer on more ice cream, or top your final layer with whipped cream or buttercream, then freeze again. 

How to Make Ice Cream Cake

Photos by Mark Weinberg and James Ransom

Jump to Comments (15)

Tags: ice cream, cake, frozen desserts, how-to & DIY, chocolate, whipped cream, birthdays, dessert, entertaining, summer

Comments (15)

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22 days ago Heidi - Apples Under My Bed

Woah. The possibilities!!!

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21 days ago Elizabeth Anthony

I forgot to mention that I lined the pans with Saran for easy removal.

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about 1 month ago Elizabeth Anthony

This is something you can just wing it. Put your favorite things on top. The kids used the premade icing in tubes for name and greetings. Believe me they had a blast and after they emptied the tubes there was no room for anything else. Like I said you can use anything you want. I used two half gallons for each cake pan (9inch) do with what you have. Let the kids be a part of it that is where the fun is, my grandsons still talk about it.

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about 1 month ago Leslie

What size pan did you use?

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about 1 month ago janetbennett

Your recipe look good will try.

Birthday

about 1 month ago Elana Carlson

thank you!

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about 1 month ago janetbennett

Need some berry sauce add to it look great.

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about 1 month ago Pam

I love this idea but what do I use for frosting so it looks a bit (lol) like a baskin robbins cake?

Birthday

about 1 month ago Elana Carlson

you could try a buttercream frosting.

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about 1 month ago Elizabeth Anthony

Last year we were having a family party for my grandson. We were caked out from the kids party a few days before. So, Nana asked what his favorite ice cream was. Using two layer cake pans lined with Saran he got a cherry vanilla two layer cake with Oreo cookies in between and chocolate fudge sauce on top. He thought his grandmother was a genius. I gave myself time to remove ice cream with the crust intact to structure a full two layer cake.

Open-uri.4355

about 1 month ago Dina Moore-Tzouris

i'm thinking a version of momofuku milk bar's pistachio layer cake with milk crumb bottom, pistachio ice cream, lemon curd, pistachio and maybe vanilla?

Afterlight

about 1 month ago Joy Belamarich

My mind is racing with all sorts of ideas -- oreo cookie crust, or a layer of pretzels… best idea, Elana!!!

Me

about 1 month ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

LAYER OF PRETZELS.

Afterlight

about 1 month ago Joy Belamarich

I KNOW.

Birthday

about 1 month ago Elana Carlson

peanut butter and pretzels!