Banana Split Ice Cream Cake

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:

Allison:  hi friend, do you have room in your freezer if i made an ice cream cake for saturday?
Crystal:  hey
Allison:   or is it pretty packed?
Crystal:  OMG YES
Allison:  otherwise i can do cupcakes or something haha
Crystal:  NO we have room hahaha
Allison:  did i hit the mark? i feel like ice cream cake is your fav
Crystal:  umm it’s alright…UHHHH YA LOVE IT hahahaha
 
Off I went looking for some ideas – I didn’t want to make something you could easily buy.  I found an AMAZING-looking recipe for a Banana Split Ice Cream Cake on Brown Eyed Baker (which is the same blog I found my favorite cupcake recipe on).
 
The full recipe is a little long, so bear with me.  I didn’t include the ice cream recipes, since I used store-bought ice cream on this cake.  I don’t have an ice cream maker, but Dreyer’s Grand (not the slow-churned stuff!) has great consistency for spreading the ice cream.  I will leave the links for the sauces that I made to shorten this post a bit.  I used Brown Eyed Baker’s strawberry and pineapple sauce recipe, but I used Food Network’s Tyler Florence’s version for the chocolate sauce (I generally just don’t like using corn syrup).
 
Since we were expecting 25 people at the potluck, I made two cakes in a 9×3 springform pan and a small loaf tin for the second cake, using 1.5 the amount of the suggested ingredients.  This ended up being a 5-day process, given my day job.  I got nervous the ice cream would freezer burn being out that long, as I’ve had frequent freezer burn problems with my freezer.  After lots of Googling, I found that using parchment paper helps prevent it.  Each time I finished a layer that would be in the freezer overnight or while I was at work, I cut out a 9″ round piece of parchment paper to keep in contact with the top layer of ice cream or sauce.  This recipe is just for one 8×3 inch springform pan’s worth of awesomeness.
 
INGREDIENTS:
For the Crust:
  • 20 Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 to 3 bananas, sliced ½-inch thick

For the Strawberry Layer:

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:

For the Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Garnish:

  • Maraschino cherries
  • Chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

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.

Crust and Banana Layer
Crust and Banana Layer

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.

Laying Down the Strawberry Ice Cream
Laying Down the Strawberry Ice Cream

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.

Parchment Paper - My BFF
Parchment Paper – My BFF

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.

Laying Down the Chocolate Ice Cream Layer
Laying Down the Chocolate Ice Cream Layer

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!

Main Part of the Cake - All Done!
Main Part of the Cake – All Done!

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.

Place Plate on the Top Side of Cake
Place Plate on the Top Side of Cake

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.

Flip and Place Cake Board on the Bottom Side of Cake
Flip and Place Cake Board on the Bottom Side of Cake

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.

Whip it Good!
Whip it Good!

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.

Pipe Whipped Cream Around Perimeter of Cake
Pipe Whipped Cream Around Perimeter of Cake

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.

Pretty Please with a Cherry on Top!
Pretty Please with a Cherry on Top!

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.

Layers of a Banana Split!
Layers of a Banana Split!

After work the day before the BBQ, I pulled the cake out of the freezer to check on it and saw this:

NOOOOOOO
NOOOOOOO

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.

Banana Split Ice Cream Cake
Banana Split Ice Cream Cake

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.

Happy Birthday, Crystal!
Happy Birthday, Crystal!

I do think Crystal was a happy camper with the cake, and there were no leftovers which is always a good sign.

Vanilla Roasted Pears

Kevin and I hosted a fun Saturday evening in Los Feliz for Tony and Julie a few weekends ago, basking in the warm afternoon sun cocktail in-hand on the outdoor patio of Katsuya at the Americana followed by a fun four-course homemade dinner courtesy of Kevin and yours truly.

The Capitellis!
The Capitellis!

Apologies in advance for the poor photo quality and plating, as I used my phone’s camera and only briefly had the food on a plate before we shoveled it down our throats.  Classy bunch, I know.  No time for fluff and positioning when there was food to be eaten!

First Course - Cheese & Charcuterie
First Course – Cheese & Charcuterie

To start, we put together a simple cheese and charcuterie board with Supreme brie (my fav), a gouda-cheddar blend, red wine (chianti) salami from Trader Joe’s, and a Trader Joe’s prosciutto (my absolut fav storebought prosciutto).  We threw in some granny smith apple slices, and wheat and flax crackers.  Tony apparently is a big chocolate beer guy, so Kevin decided to pick up a couple of chocolate stouts for the boys to try.

Second Course - Arugula Salad
Second Course – Arugula Salad

For the second course, we made a simple arugula salad topped with homemade candied walnuts, julienne fuji apple, and shaved (not grated!) parmesan cheese, all drizzled over with a homemade brown sugar balsamic vinaigrette (1/4 C balsamic vinegar, 1 chopped shallot, 1/2 C olive oil, 2 tsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp fine black pepper – whisked together and sitting for at least an hour).

I didn't remember to take a photo til midway through eating this dish...
I didn’t remember to take a photo til midway through eating this dish…

For the entree, we did a wheat rotini pasta dish with simple grilled shrimp, pan-friend kale, and Trader Joe’s sundried tomato.  We also added a touch of Trader Giotto’s Organic Vodka sauce to add a little bit of moisture to the dish – Kevin’s genius idea.

And now for the real subject matter of this post – dessert!  I wanted to make something that we could make and eat right away, rather than the types of things I typically make in advance (i.e., cupcakes, cookies, bars, etc.).  Also, baking at Kevin’s means either needing to be self-sufficient as far as not needing the typical tools and machinery goes, or bringing all the machinery myself.  We settled on a vanilla poached pear recipe (below) as adapted from one I found on Smitten Kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4-5 slightly-under-ripe, fragrant, medium pears, peeled if desired, halved though the stem and cored (I used Bosc)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the sugar in a small bowl. With a thin, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into the sugar.

2. Arrange the pears in a large baking dish, cut-side up. Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the fruit, then sprinkle with the sugar. Nestle the vanilla pod among the fruit (I first slit my halves lengthwise into quarters). Pour the water into the dish. Dot each pear with some butter.

Pears, Vanilla Sugar, and Butter - Easy!
Pears, Vanilla Sugar, and Butter – Easy!

3. Roast the pears for minutes brushing them occasionally with the pan juices. Turn the pears over and continue roasting, basting once or twice, until tender and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes longer. A paring knife poked into the thickest part of one should meet with no resistance.

Slightly Blistered Pears
Slightly Blistered Pears

4. Serve warm, spooned with the caramelized pear drippings from the pan over vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla Roasted Pears
Vanilla Roasted Pears

I LOVED this recipe – it’s a nice light dessert that I could eat probably every day.  When (not “if”) I make this again, I might substitute the white sugar for a little less than the same amount of brown sugar just to get a little more of a molassesy-sticky texture to the glaze. MMM

Basic Macarons

I’m a Macaronaholic. Part of why I love these cookies so much is because I respect the fact that it’s really easy to make bad ones.  Different factors come in to play when making these chewy little clouds of heaven – humidity, room temperature, sifting, distribution of heat in your oven, etc. I’ve been too intimidated to make them on my own out of fear of having new content to contribute to my list of crafting/baking disasters.  If only there was some sort of alert to let you know when you’re about to over mix, over (or under) dry, or over bake your macarons…

I braved the Black Friday madness once again, this time to take an Intro to French Macarons class at the mall in Santa Monica with the goal of quelling said fears.  We made a basic vanilla macaron with four different fillings – raspberry buttercream, passion fruit buttercream, coffee buttercream, and a very buttery salted caramel.  The salted caramel was made from scratch, and we made an Italian meringue buttercream, split it three ways, and then added the secondary flavor for the other fillings.  The raspberry filling just had freeze-dried raspberries added to it, and concentrates were added to the buttercream for the passion fruit and coffee fillings. Pretty straightforward.

Basic Vanilla Macaron

The class was really informational and fun, with the exception the one student in my class who also happened to be named Allison. She referred to me throughout the class as “Other Allison”, probably because her macaron cookies came out cracked and in any shape but round. She didn’t like this, and made comments like “Leave it to Other Allison to show the class up.”  However, once the cookie sheets came out of the oven, she “accidentally” took one of mine and started applying the filling to those.  I would have blamed it on a mix-up with the name, but she had written “Allie” on her cookie sheet.  Really?  I was already annoyed with her for being obnoxious, but as I looked at the sad “Allie” misshapen macaron cookies I was left with, I was just about ready to stab her with my offset spatula.  Luckily, as a test of my learnings, I got asked to make a second batch and those turned out great. Suck it, Allie. #notbitter

Basic Vanilla Macaron with Raspberry Buttercream Filling

I’m taking an intermediate class next week to learn how to make different types of macaron fillings (custards, ganaches, etc.), as well as different flavored cookies (rose petal, pistachio, hazelnut, etc.).  Really exciting!  After that, I think I may try them on my own.  Eek!

Peaches and Cream Ice Cream Cake

Doing something to celebrate your significant other’s birthday is a bit like taking your car to the carwash.  The basic bronze package (e.g., birthday dinner and maybe dessert) is what you opt for most of time, while you “level-up” once in a while and get them the silver package (e.g., everything from the bronze package plus a gift and/or planning a get-together with their friends, etc.).  But on “milestone” birthdays, you splurge and treat your car (or boyfriend) to the platinum package, which is includes all of the above in addition to a surprise party and an exterior carnauba wax and polish.

In planning the birthday basketball tournament, I had to spin an intricate web of lies and to keep KJ from getting suspicious since I wanted it to be a surprise.  However, this meant pretending he was just getting the bronze package to deflect any suspicions while actually procuring the platinum in secrecy.

In the middle of the week, he gave me the Puss in Boots eyes and told me that the ONE thing he wanted for his birthday this year was a half-batch of the peanut butter cookies I had made a few weeks ago for a coworker’s birthday.  Obviously, I couldn’t A) say no to those eyes and B) tell him I was too busy making a surprise birthday cake and planning a surprise party.  So, on his actual birthday, I frantically cranked a full batch out in between work and servicing a bronze package a la dinner at Rustic Canyon to sample the “Best Gourmet Burger in LA”.  I put chocolate chips in the other half-batch for him to bring to his fantasy football draft, where the birthday cake would also be served.

Since he loves ice cream cake, I decided to try my hand at making the frozen treat.  I didn’t want to make any ordinary ice cream cake that one could buy from Baskin Robbins (i.e., Mint Chip Ice Cream with Chocolate Cake, etc.).  So, I thought I would take advantage of it being peach season and whip up a peaches and cream ice cream cake.

Chopped Fresh Peaches and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I made it upside down and in a 9” springform pan so I wouldn’t have to worry about prying the frozen concoction out of a normal pan.  The first layer was vanilla bean ice cream with chopped fresh peaches mixed in, and the middle layer was peach sorbet.

White Cake and Peach Sorbet

The final layer was a white cake.  The recipe I had made enough to fill a 13”x9” pan at about two inches thick.  I anticipated needing to cut it down to be 9″ round, and then cut it shorter to about an inch or so. However, the cake ended up being a little on the dryer side when it came out of the oven, so it crumbled when I tried to put it on top of the sorbet layer.  It didn’t taste dry, but it just wasn’t moist enough to stay together.

My Crumbling Cake Layer

Since it was already late on a work night and I couldn’t pick out all of the pieces from the softened sorbet, I instead ended up piecing everything together and pushing it down in hopes that it wouldn’t fall apart once it came out of the fridge.  Thankfully, it ended up working out because if the cake had actually been very moist, it would have gotten soggy and icy once frozen.  I wish the peach sorbet had been a bit brighter in color so that the layers would really pop when looking at the cake as a whole.

Ready for the Draft!

I picked up a cake box and the gold cake round at a specialty cooking store in Culver City, along with a couple of smaller baker’s boxes for the PB cookies and maybe a future project. Despite the sorbet layer being a bit light in color, I did really like the way the cake looked when sliced.

So Much Prettier When Sliced

Here’s the gallery!