Ice Cream/Frozen Desserts

How to Make a No-Churn Ice Cream Cake

August 19, 2014

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Writer and food blogger Ina-Janine shows us that with the right recipes, making an ice cream cake can be simple despite its intricate appearance. 

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Ever since I watched Nigella Lawson make easy mocha ice cream on her show, I have been obsessed with the idea of trying out the recipe for myself. You know how it is: You see something that looks both simple and impossibly good, and you think, "No, that can’t be true, it can’t be that easy, that ice cream can’t be that creamy and delicious-looking with that little effort." Or maybe you don’t think the way I do -- I’m a natural skeptic.

Long story short, I surfed the internet and found out that the technique is a well-known one, and that a lot of respectable people have come to the same conclusion as Nigella. 

More: See all of the steps for making Nigella's One-Step, No-Churn Ice Cream


Messing around with the recipe, I made a chocolate version, a mint chocolate chip version, and a vanilla version with candied almonds. The recipe -- or rather, the technique -- was proving itself to be quite versatile. And then the idea struck me: Why not try making an ice cream cake? I’ve always been in awe of them, but the work required to make one from scratch had always held me back. That, and the fact that there is a limited season in Norway for ice cream eating, and during this time, I am usually outside trying to make the most of the good weather, not making ice cream cakes in the kitchen. 

More: You can make meringue with any amount of leftover egg whites

This ice cream cake has a meringue base, which melts into gooey, chewy deliciousness during freezing. If you want a more substantial base for your cake, I suggest you try a brownie or chocolate chip cookie recipe. This is my version of a chocolate meringue ice cream cake, but do feel free to play around with the recipe and make it your own!

This is the easiest way to make an ice cream cake and I promise you that it will be a stunner, and that you won’t have to spend hours in your kitchen.

Chocolate Meringue Ice Cream Cake

Makes 1 ice cream cake

For the meringue base:

4 egg whites
250 grams caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cider vinegar

For the ice cream:

600 milliliters (about 20 fluid ounces) cold whipping cream
396 grams (one 14-ounce tin) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
150 grams finely chopped semisweet chocolate, divided

Preheat your oven to 300°F (150° C). Cover the bottom of a springform pan with a square of parchment paper larger than the diameter of the pan (see the photo below for reference). Then, make a ring to line the sides of the pan like a collar -- make sure they are a little taller than the height of the pan so they peek over the sides. Brush the sides of the pan with vegetable oil so that the parchment paper sticks. 

Make the meringue. Whip the egg whites in a clean bowl until soft peaks form. (You can do this by hand but it's easier to use a mixer.) Next, add the sugar one tablespoon at a time with the mixer running. When you have added all the sugar, you should be left with a beautiful, creamy, thick meringue mixture. Sift the cornstarch and cocoa powder into the meringue mixture and fold it in using a large spoon or spatula. Add the vinegar and fold that in carefully, too.

More: Here's how to decide which spoon or spatula to use.

Pour the meringue mixture into your prepared pan and smooth it out to the edges with the help of a spatula. Set the pan in your preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let it cool down completely with the oven door closed. Remove the meringue from the oven and set it aside.

When your meringue base has completely cooled, start your ice cream.

Mix the whipping cream with the sweetened condensed milk until stiff peaks form. Stir in the vanilla extract and divide the mixture in two. You now have two bowls of ice cream base. Sift the cocoa powder over one of the mixtures and stir until you have an even chocolate ice cream base. Add about a third of the chocolate pieces to the other mixture and stir.

You now have the three necessary elements for your ice cream cake: the meringue base, plus two types of ice cream mixtures.

Pile the two ice cream mixtures in alternating layers onto your meringue base (this is when the collar comes in handy, as your ice cream may reach over over the rim of your pan).

Lift your pan a couple of centimeters above your work surface and drop it so that your mixture falls evenly into place and you get a smooth top.

Using a skewer, swirl the two ice creams together as much as you'd like. Cover the surface with plastic wrap (try to get the plastic wrap as close to the ice cream as possible without touching it), and freeze overnight.

If you plan to decorate your cake with chocolate trim, put the remainder of the finely chopped chocolate in a piping bag. Insert the piping bag into a glass of hot water (be careful not to get any water in your chocolate) and let the chocolate melt. Remove your cake from the freezer and take off the plastic wrap. Carefully peel away the paper collar. Pipe the melted chocolate over your cake or around the rim like I did.

More: Learn how to pipe perfectly from a pastry bag.

Put the cake back into the freezer, or serve it immediately. Lift the cake carefully from the bottom of the pan and remove the paper, then place it on a cake stand or platter. To serve the cake, use a good, steady knife and dip it in hot water before making each slice. A hot knife makes for smoother cutting.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Ina-Janine

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sam
  • Megan
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  • marsiamarsia
  • Jeanie Kilgour
    Jeanie Kilgour
Food blogger and writer. Two cookbooks.


Sam September 10, 2018
Can we use sugar instead of condensed milk?
Megan August 29, 2016
This has become our family's go-to birthday cake, except with a brownie instead of meringue base. Thank you!
allykat June 5, 2016
I just made this today and it was amazing! Quite delicious and very simple to make. Thank you Ina-Janine.
marsiamarsia May 27, 2015
This reminds me of a mocha/whipped cream pie my mother used to make when I was growing up. Soooooooo divine! I usually try to avoid dessert these days, but I'm going to HAVE to try this recipe for sure.
Jeanie K. November 9, 2014
Why a limited time for ce cream eating in Norway I live in northern Michigan and wat ice cream year round - even sitting in the car with my parka and gloves on! :)
Ina-Janine August 20, 2014
I used a 9" pan Doralece. If you choose a smaller pan your ice cream cake will be taller, a larger pan will give you a flatter ice cream cake.
Doralece August 19, 2014
What size spring form pan?
Ina-Janine August 19, 2014
Your welcome - hope you try it out!
AntoniaJames August 19, 2014
Wonderful, indeed. Thank you for posting this. ;o)