I recalled having Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes on quite a few birthday celebrations for Crystal throughout the 10+ years I’ve known her. And any time she had a chance to bring dessert to a potluck, she brought ice cream cake. I thought it might be somewhat of a no-brainer to see if she’d want one for her birthday potluck a few weekends ago, but I wanted to make sure she’d be into it. This is literally the conversation we had verbatim:
- 20 Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 to 3 bananas, sliced ½-inch thick
For the Strawberry Layer:
- 1 pint strawberry ice cream
- 1 cup strawberry ice cream topping (make sure it’s a pourable consistency, warm briefly if necessary)
For the Chocolate Layer:
- 1 pint chocolate ice cream
- 1 cup hot fudge sauce, at room temperature (make sure it’s a pourable consistency, warm briefly if necessary)
For the Vanilla Layer:
- 1 pint vanilla ice cream
- ½ cup pineapple ice cream topping
For the Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Maraschino cherries
- Chopped walnuts
1. Spray an 8×3-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper; set aside.
2. Assemble the Crust: Combine the Oreo cookie crumbs with the melted butter, tossing until all of the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with the banana slices. Place the pan in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
3. Assemble the Strawberry Layer: Top the banana layer with the strawberry ice cream. Use an offset spatula (or the back of a giant spoon) to spread the ice cream into a smooth, even layer. Place the pan back in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
4. Pour the strawberry topping over the strawberry ice cream and gently spread so that it covers the entire ice cream layer beneath. Return to the freezer for at least 1 hour, or until completely frozen. This is where I took a break and froze the cake overnight, so I put a layer of parchment paper down to prevent freezer burn.
5. Assemble the Chocolate Layer: Top the strawberry layer with the chocolate ice cream. Use an offset spatula to spread the ice cream into a smooth, even layer. Place the pan back in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or until firm and set.
6. Pour the hot fudge sauce over the chocolate ice cream and gently spread so that it covers the entire ice cream layer beneath. Return to the freezer for at least 1 hour, or until completely frozen.
7. Assemble the Vanilla Layer: Top the hot fudge layer with the vanilla ice cream. Use an offset spatula to spread the ice cream into a smooth, even layer. Cover with plastic wrap, return the assembled cake to the freezer and freeze overnight. Don’t forget the layer of parchment paper!
8. Final Assembly and Garnishment: At least 1 hour (and no more than 12 hours) before serving, unmold the cake. To release the cake from the pan, invert the cake onto a plate or cardboard round the same size and wrap a hot kitchen towel around the cake pan, keeping it there for 30 seconds, or until the cake loosens and slide the pan off.
Remove the parchment (and bottom of pan if using a springform). Top with a serving plate and turn the cake right side up. Return to the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
9. While the cake is in the freezer, make the whipped cream. Combine the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the cream is light and fluffy and holds a medium to firm peak, 2 to 3 minutes.
10. Just prior to serving, pipe the whipped cream into mounds around the outer edge of the cake, making sure the mounds touch so that no pineapple sauce leaks down the top. Place a maraschino cherry on top of each whipped cream mound.
11. Fill in the space in the middle with the pineapple topping and top with chopped walnuts. A hot, dry knife will yield the cleanest cuts. Dip your knife in a glass of hot water, wipe it clean with a towel, and cut a slice. Repeat between every slice. Store leftover slices in airtight containers (or covered with parchment paper and foil) in the freezer.
Note: If you are making homemade ice cream, your best bet is to time the assembly so that you can add the freshly-churned ice cream right onto the cake. It will be the perfect consistency. If you will be using already-made ice cream, put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before you plan to need it and then mix it really well with a spatula so that it is smooth and spreadable.
After work the day before the BBQ, I pulled the cake out of the freezer to check on it and saw this:
My dad had accidentally left two heavy WARM ice packs on top of the parchment paper layer of cake the night before, and the packs had melted the already soft ice cream and pushed it down, causing the top layer to get a little foamy and spill out the sides of the pan. My 4 days of work leading up to that had been ruined. I could only think of one thing to say, but it was already too late. After a good hour of wanting to take a wrecking ball to my kitchen, I calmed down tried to figure out how to salvage the cake. I re-froze the cake, and then scraped off as much as I could of the vanilla layer without breaking the chocolate sauce layer. I put another layer of parchment paper down and froze it for a few hours. I reapplied the vanilla ice cream layer, put another layer of parchment down and froze it overnight. The next morning, I made the whipped cream and piped it on to the cake, and filled the top with the pineapple sauce.
The cake layers definitely weren’t as perfect as I had hoped, but there was no time to start the cake over. Thankfully, Sho-Yu is definitely not a crowd to judge based on appearances as we tend to just inhale sweets however imperfect they may look.
I do think Crystal was a happy camper with the cake, and there were no leftovers which is always a good sign.