Friday, May 29, 2015

homemade ice cream cake.

One of the most notable birthday cakes I ever had was the BEHEMOTH of an ice cream cake my Mom made me for one of my teenage birthdays.  This cake was a triple layer monstrosity that I dream about almost every year (it was also so big that I am pretty sure we ate it for about a year).  There was ice cream, and actual cake and I vaguely remember some kind of almond toffee deliciousness between each of the layers.   It was the kind of birthday cake that begs to be the centerpiece at a party.   

As I find myself creeping towards 30 at an even quicker pace than I ever imagined possible, I've started to think about what a birthday celebration means to me and how I wish to celebrate my own milestone.  I told Tyler I didn't want a present - that I wanted him to plan something - to take me away for a weekend or a night.  I realize now, on the cusp of 30, that having the person I love plan something for me and having an adventure with him is more important than any physical object he could ever give to me (this sentiment may not hold true forever...).   It takes being almost 30 to finally realize that.  This isn't to say I'm not buying myself something to celebrate - I couldn't imagine celebrating such a milestone and not commemorating it with something I've wanted for a while. But I'm happy to be buying it for myself - I feel like it says I've made it even if I don't always feel as if I've made it.

So my birthday will be a leisurely walk with the boy, a couple of beers, a really good burger, and of course a cake.  Preferably multiple cakes because if there is anything I love in this world its cake. Ideally ice cream cake and regular cake and while I would love the original ice cream cake made by the mama, I will happily take this substitute because this is an ode to the Carvel ice cream cake that everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) loves. But, this one is better - oh so much better.  A brownie base is topped with homemade fudge and an extra generous layer of cookie crumbs. There are two types of ice cream and more fudge and cookie crumbs.  It's a cake made for celebrating and sharing with friends and feeling like a little kid again.   

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

So many notes!

-The length of this recipe makes it look absurdly difficult.  Do not be deterred, this is WAY easier than it looks.  I promise.

-I made a 6 inch cake because a 9 inch cake would be WAY too much for to have in the freezer when it's     usually just the 2 of us around (and I have yet to figure out how to transport ice cream cake on a subway and a mile long walk to work without melting).  You can halve the below to make a 6 inch cake.  

-Splurge on good ice cream.  If you are making everything else homemade the ice cream should be the good stuff (or make your own if you are fortunate enough to own an ice cream maker).  I got ours from Ample Hills in Brooklyn - there ice cream is absurdly good.  I went with a vanilla and a peppermint ice cream since I liked the idea of mint with the fudge and brownie.  An excellent choice I might add.   

-You will have extra fudge and cookie crumbs.  This is not a bad thing.  If you think this is a bad thing, I'm not sure we can be friends.

-This cake is epic.  Enough said.     

Makes one 9-inch cake

For the Cake

4 pints of ice cream (2 pints of each flavor)
Brownie Base (recipe below)
Fudge (recipe below)
Cookie Crumbs (recipe below)

Remove the 2 pints (or 1 quart) of ice cream for layer one of the cake and the brownie (in the cake pan) from the freezer about 15 minutes before you are ready to assemble.  Remove the fudge from the fridge (if it was being stored there).   

Cover the brownie with a thin layer of fudge (microwave the fudge for a few seconds if you need to get it to spreadable consistency) and spread with an offset spatula to ensure all edges are covered with fudge.  Sprinkle a generous layer of cookie crumbs over the fudge and ever so slightly press the crumbs into the fudge with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.  Return the cake pan to the freezer until the ice cream is softened and ready for spreading.

When the ice cream is at a softened state, remove the cake pan from the freezer and dump the ice cream over the brownie/fudge/crumb base.  Carefully spread the ice cream over the brownie layer.  Don't spread too firmly or the cookie crumbs can shift under the ice cream.  Return the cake pan to the freezer until the ice cream layer is firm, about an hour.   

When ice cream layer one is firm, remove the other 2 pints of ice cream from the freezer and set aside.   Pour some fudge over the ice cream and spread to create an even layer of fudge.  Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the fudge to the edges of the cake.  Sprinkle a generous layer of cookie crumbs over the fudge and once again, ever so slightly press the crumbs into the fudge with the offset spatula or the back of a spoon.  Return the cake to the freezer until you are ready to create the second ice cream layer.  

When the pints of ice cream are properly softened, remove the cake pan from the freezer and dump the ice cream over the fudge/crumb base.  Carefully spread the ice cream evenly over the fudge/cookie crumbs.  Don't spread too firmly or else the cookie crumbs can shift under the ice cream.  Cover the top of the cake with another generous layer of cookie crumbs and gently press the crumbs into the ice cream with the back of a spoon.  Place the cake pan back into the freezer until the ice cream layer is firm, about an hour.   

Remove the cake from the freezer about 10 - 15 minutes before serving (this will make it easier to cut). Slice and serve the cake with additional fudge and extra cookie crumbs.   

Brownie Cake Base
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

1.5 ounces (43 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup (43 grams) all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter one 9 inch spring-form cake pan with 2 3/4 - 3 inch tall sides or spray them with a nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, heat chocolate and butter together until about 3/4 of the way melted. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar until fully combined, then the egg, and vanilla. Stir in salt until combined, then flour, until it just disappears.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating once top to bottom and front to back, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each pan comes out batter-free. Transfer hot pans directly to freezer (you can put down dish towels or a cooling rack to protect shelves). Chill until cold and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes (but can be left in the freezer for longer).

Hot Fudge Sauce
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 2 cups

2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup or golden syrup (honey should work as well, but I didn’t test it this time)
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, ideally Dutch-processed
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or level 1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or, about 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips), divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a 1 1/2 to 2-quart heavy saucepan, bring cream, syrup, sugar, cocoa, salt (if you’d like the salt to remain slightly textured, add it with the butter and extract at the end) and half the chocolate to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in remaining chocolate, butter and extract and stir until smooth. Cool the sauce to lukewarm (or place in the fridge) before assembling it so that it can thicken up.

Chocolate Cookies for Cookie Crumbs
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks), cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 large egg

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Blend flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter chunks and blend until the mixture is powdery. Add egg and run machine until dough starts to clump and ball, about 30 seconds. Scoop cookies out onto baking sheets, giving them space as they will spread a lot (not that merged cookies will matter once you grind them up). Bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Cookies will absolutely look underbaked, but don’t fret. Transfer baking sheets onto cooling racks and within two minutes, they will be firm enough to transfer to cooling racks. Let cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.

Grind about half of your cookies in a food processor or blender until they’re just crumbs. You will want a total of 2 3/4 cups of them.

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