Off the clock, I'm a reasonable eater. I try to watch my weight and eat balanced meals. I make salads for dinner.
But my boss, Ed Levine, doesn't pay me to eat reasonably. Which is why, when I'm on the clock, I do dumb things like eat every Pop-Tart or spend a day hunting down dumplings. It's why every year we do weird stuff with Halloween candy, like bake it into muffins, or deep-fry it, or build a seven-layer candy dip.
Today, I'm here to tell you that was all child's play. Chump change. Mere single-coronary-bypass stunts.
Because I'm gonna show you how to make the ice cream cake to end all ice cream cakes. The ne plus ultra of candy recipes. You'll need four quarts of ice cream. Two packages of Oreos. A half pound of butter. Several pounds of Halloween candy. And that's before we add ganache to it all.
Perhaps you buy your candy in bulk and have far too much left over after the holiday. Maybe you're throwing a Halloween bash and need a showstopper to feed a crowd. Or you're just feeling gluttonous. No judgments here.
Enter the four-layer Halloween candy ice cream cake.
Of course, you don't need to make a four-layer ice cream cake. One layer will do you just fine. Two is totally reasonable. Three is more than enough. But this is Halloween, damn it, and we're going for broke. Here's how to make your seven-year-old self cry tears of joy.
Planning the Layers
We're sticking to one type of Halloween candy for each layer of the cake. Chewy and crunchy chocolate-based candies are your best bets; gummies and sour or hard candies don't freeze well. The key is to find an ice cream that complements each candy.
Mini peanut butter cups call out for rich chocolate to cut their salt.
Kit Kats take surprisingly well to coffee. Once you strip off their chocolate coating, you're left with a wafer-style biscuit not unlike what many European cafés will serve with your cup of joe. How continental!
A caramel or dulce de leche ice cream makes the most of Twix's gooey caramel layer.
And Snickers? With peanuts, chocolate, nougat, caramel, and a good jolt of salt, the best complement is the simplest: a sturdy, reliable vanilla ice cream.
You can go pro and make your own ice cream for these layers, or stick to a quality store-bought brand like Häagen-Dazs. You'll need one quart of ice cream and about two and a half cups of chopped-up candy to fit well into a nine-inch cake pan.
Making the Crumb
Of course, the actual best part of an ice cream cake is the layer of crunchy chocolate crumbs between each flavor. Most recipes call for plain chocolate wafers mixed with fat and sugar in a food processor, but when's the last time you saw plain chocolate wafers at the grocery store?
Yeah, me neither. But you know what I see plenty of? Oreos. And their cream filling is a convenient source of the sugar and fat we need. So pile a package of Oreos into a food processor, and blitz them into a crumble. Unfortunately, you'll need some extra fat to bind the crumbs. Fortunately, melted butter does the job perfectly.
For two layers of crumbs, you'll need one 14-ounce package of Oreos (about 36 cookies) and one stick of melted butter, plus a big pinch of salt for balance. We're using two packs of cookies and a half pound of butter for this cake.
Building the Cake
While you're chopping your candy into smaller-than-bite-size chunks, take your ice cream out of the freezer to thaw. You don't want it melty-soft; just pliable enough to stir in your candy.
Line a cake pan with wax paper to ensure easy removal of your cake layers. I use two sheets, each about six inches longer than my cake pan, and arrange them in a cross pattern to make a sling. Then shloop your ice cream in there, and pat it down evenly.
If you have a nine-inch pie pan, you're in luck—it's the best tool for flattening out your ice cream disk. Lay a sheet of wax paper over the top of the ice cream, and press down on the pan. Remove it, add a few handfuls of chocolate crumbs (enough to completely cover the ice cream), and press down again with the pie pan.
And there we go. Now get that pan in the freezer to firm up the ice cream before it melts, and repeat with three more layers in their own pans.
Stacking the Cake
You want to make sure the cake layers are frozen solid before stacking them; I let mine chill overnight.
Once they're firmed up, place a large plate or cutting board on top of the cake pan, and quickly flip the stack over so the chocolate crumbs are facing down. Remove the cake pan, peel off the wax paper, and use a fat, wide offset spatula or a flexible cutting board to move the layer onto your cake stand.
This layer cake is damned impressive-looking on its own, but you know what's a good finishing touch? Some ganache drizzled over the top and down the sides.
See what I mean?
Want to see what it looks like inside?
Look at it.
BEHOLD THE CAKE.
Now eat it.