Basic Ice Cream Cake

Serves 8 to 12.

Note: Customize this recipe with your favorite flavor combination for a decadent summer treat. Make Caramel Chocolate Crunch cake with chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, crushed chocolate cookies and caramel ice cream. S'mores cake would include yellow cake, chocolate ice cream, marshmallow cream, crushed graham crackers and rocky road ice cream. From Alison Sherwood.

• Cake batter for 1 (1-in.) layer of cake

• 2 pints ice cream flavor A (1 pint if using 9-in. round pan)

• 2 pints ice cream flavor B (1 pint if using 9-in. round pan)

1 c. spreadable filling (such as hot fudge, peanut butter or marshmallow cream)

2 c. crunch filling (such as crushed cookies, graham crackers or nuts)

Whipped cream frosting:

• 1 1/2 c. cold heavy whipping cream

• 1 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin

• 1 1/2 tbsp. cold water

• 5 tbsp. powdered sugar

• 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


Line a 9-inch round or 8 1/2- by 10 1/2 -inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing a bit to hang over the edges. Grease parchment and bake a single layer of cake using your favorite recipe or box mix. After cooling, remove cake from pan and slice off the top with a large, serrated knife to make an even 1-inch layer of cake.

Soften 1 pint (for a 9-inch round cake) or 2 pints (for a larger, rectangular cake) of ice cream flavor A by letting it sit at room temperature about 20 minutes. Stir ice cream so texture is consistent and spreadable. If your pan is at least 4 inches deep and you want the cake to be the bottom layer, place the trimmed cake in the parchment paper back into the dish. Spread softened ice cream evenly over cake. If your pan isn't as deep, set the cake aside, line pan with parchment paper and spread ice cream in bottom of pan. Freeze about 2 hours or until hardened enough to spread on the next layer.

Remove ice cream flavor B from freezer 20 to 30 minutes before first ice cream layer is finished freezing, to let it soften. When first ice cream layer is ready, remove pan from freezer and quickly spread 1 cup of your chosen spreadable filling on the ice cream. (If using hot fudge, it may help to warm it in the microwave, then let it cool to room temperature first.) Sprinkle your chosen crunchy filling evenly over that and lightly press it down into the spreadable layer. Spread softened ice cream over cake and return dish to freezer for another 2 hours or longer, preferably overnight, until hardened.

To make stabilized whipped cream frosting: Chill a large bowl and whisk from an electric mixer in the refrigerator or freezer. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small, microwave-safe bowl and let sit 1 minute or until absorbed. Microwave gelatin on high for 30 seconds; it should finish clear. With mixer, using the chilled whisk, beat the cream until peaks just start to form. Gradually add sugar. While mixer is running, slowly pour in gelatin mixture. Add vanilla and finish beating when stiff peaks form.

Use the overhanging parchment paper to remove fully frozen cake from pan and place it on a serving platter that fits in the freezer. If you didn't use the cake layer on the bottom, place it on top. Cover top and sides of cake with a thin layer of about one-third of the whipped cream frosting; don't worry if ice cream melts into it and it doesn't look perfect. Return cake to freezer for about 15 minutes, then spread on remaining whipped cream. Serve immediately or freeze until ready to serve.