I will let you in on the worst-kept secret in our family: Saturday was the Pie’s thirtieth birthday. He’s finally as old as me and will (hopefully) shut up about my aging process.
Now, for me, being born the week before March Break, as a child I often celebrated more than one birthday. There was my actual birthday, then there was one when my grandparents came to visit the following week, and then maybe one with my friends from school. Through no fault of my own, this happened consistently through to my adulthood, just little low-key celebrations dotting a week of aging, with maybe a cake at the end of it. For the Pie it’s a bit different. Because he was born in the summer, all of his friends were out of school and so he generally had one big bash to celebrate his big day. Needless to say, since we became broke and moved to Newfoundland, his expectations have taken a hit. Fortunately, Papa John and Mrs. Nice are in town, so we can make it a bit of a party.
As a rule (because we’re broke), we don’t exchange gifts, but on our birthdays, the other makes the celebrant a cake. Last year, I made the Pie that disastrous leaning tower of chocolate. This year I thought I would try for something a little more refreshing, given that it is summer, after all: ice cream cake! Having watched several of the bloggers I read try and fail at this feat last summer (Caroline, I’m thinking of you!), I think I know what NOT to do, so here goes …
Start with a springform pan. The fact that you can dismantle it means that getting the cake out when you’re done won’t be that hard.
Now you need some ice cream flavours. One of our favourite restaurants in St. John’s, Get Stuffed, used to have this boozy ice cream cake, where the three layers of ice cream were flavoured with various liqueurs. It. Was. Fabulous. So I’m going to try to recreate that, but with a little less booze. Just a little less.
I’m using ice creams I made from scratch, but you can use store-bought ice cream that has been softened. The first layer, at the top of the cake, is raspberry (you can see the recipe here, though this time I used cognac instead of vinegar!). Simply spoon 2 or 3 cups of softened ice cream into the bottom of the pan and smooth it out. In retrospect, I should have frozen the empty pan before plopping the ice cream in it, because just-churned ice cream on a hot day has a habit of melting, and this seeped through the edges of the pan a bit before it re-froze. No big deal, just something to remember for next time.
You might also want to scrape down the sides a bit, just so residual ice cream doesn’t interfere with the look of the following layer.
This cake took a couple of days to make, because each ice cream mixture needs to sit in the fridge overnight before you churn and freeze it, but that gave each layer ample time to get nice and solid before I added the next one.
The middle layer is vanilla, and the Pie loves his vanilla ice cream, so I used the best recipe possible.
Because the pan was frozen and the ice cream underneath was frozen, it was an easy job to smooth on this layer.
Then a chocolate layer. Neither the Pie nor I are particularly fond of chocolate ice cream, but I have never seen an ice cream cake, especially one with a fudge layer, without it, so it had to go in.
You will be able to see the recipe here on Wednesday.
So, with that all frozen, I could work on my chocolate fudge layer, which, in my opinion, was always the best part of the store-bought ice cream cake. Fudge sauce recipes abound on the internet, but I was looking for something with a bit of substance, something that would take well to freezing, and this one from The Foodess seemed perfect. She even said it went well in ice cream cakes.
Making it was super easy, too, which I like. I did it on the stove, but The Foodess recommends working with the microwave, so that should tell you how easy it is.
In a small saucepan with a thick bottom, pour 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup powdered cocoa, and 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk (I used homogenized milk here).
Heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves, and bring the mixture to a boil, all of which should take about 3 minutes.
Add in 4 tablespoons butter and cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. You might want to turn the heat down a little bit, so that the sauce doesn’t burn.
Remove the sauce from the heat, add in 1 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt and you’re all done. Wasn’t that easy?
Let that cool before smoothing it onto your final ice cream layer. Mine was in the fridge overnight and so I just stuck it in the microwave for a minute to soften it up a bit.
It slathered onto the frozen chocolate layer quite nicely.
Then you want a crumb crust. You can use Oreo crumbs, but I also had some leftover pieces from some particularly crumbly gluten-free brownies that were in the freezer, so I pulsed them in the food processor and used them instead, which meant that everything in the cake was made from scratch (you gotta put in the extra effort sometimes).
Smooth the crumbs over the fudge layer.
Right to the edge. Yes, I licked the fudge off my finger later.
Press that stuff down and re-freeze for a couple of hours.
To serve, run a bit of hot water around the edges of the springform pan and release the cake, flipping it upside down onto a plate (make sure it’s a plate with a lip, otherwise the cake will dribble everywhere as it melts).
I used an icing scraper to texturize the sides and scrape away dribbles from other flavours that ruined the effect.
Then I used a fondant smoother to get rid of the weird melty marks on the top.
You can decorate it any way you want, but the Pie is a huge Street Fighter fan and he plays the character of Hakan, a Turkish oil wrestler. So I bought some teal and white icing from Sobeys and put a stylized version of his face on the cake, as his skin is almost the same colour as the raspberry ice cream (okay so now not everything is made from scratch. Sue me).
Cover the cake with plastic wrap or seal in a container and store in the freezer when you’re not eating it.