Why It Works
- Crushing half of the chocolate wafers and coating them with butter adds a crunchy element to the ice cream cake.
- Layering whole chocolate wafers in with the ice cream softens them, creating a tender, cake-like texture.
Having a summer birthday rocked when I was a kid because it always meant two things: a huge barbecue and a Carvel ice cream cake. Though I adored my grandmother's home-baked cakes, nothing could compare to this once-a-year treat of creamy layers of chocolate and vanilla ice cream separated by that crunchy chocolate crumb crack. Part of the allure of the ice cream cake was that it was so fleeting. Set an ice cream cake out at a family party in the hot summer sun and no one is gonna be polite--everyone's fighting over the last piece, or should I say puddle.
As my birthday approached, I was inspired to create an easy ice cream cake that would be a hybrid of a Carvel ice cream cake and my favorite no-bake cake of all time: the infamous whipped cream refrigerator cake made with Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers. When sandwiched between whipped cream, these chocolaty cookies soften up into a terrific soft cookie texture. I was hoping that ice cream would work the same way. To re-create the crunchy chocolate cookie element that's in those beloved Carvel cakes, I tossed together a mixture of crushed chocolate wafers, sugar, and melted butter, and then pressed it into the bottom of a springform pan so that it would form the base of the ice cream cake. And I did mention that this was easy, right? The bottom crust is the hardest part of this cake. Because from there, I simply layered softened chocolate ice cream with the chocolate wafer cookies, and then I let it all harden up in the freezer for a few hours. (For the cake in the photo, I spooned in two different flavors: a chocolate rocky road and a chocolate brownie ice cream.) Just as I'd wanted, the ice cream worked its magic to moisten the chocolate wafers just enough to create easily sliceable cake slices that still kept a bit of snap for nice textural contrast in every bite.
The biggest thing that I learned when making this kind of cake is that it really really pays off to spend the extra bucks for a good quality ice cream when assembling an ice cream cake. Cheap air-filled ice creams melt on the fly in the hot sun (or even at room temperature) before I even finished slicing up the cake. So please trust me and my many plates of creme anglaise, it's worth it. And the other plus? What's better than mixing and matching your favorite ice cream flavors? It goes without saying that I always go for chocolate, but this recipe is the perfect platform to mastermind your own creation. And whether it's birthday time or not, this cake makes an elegant presentation that's appropriate for dessert time anytime.
2 boxes Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 quarts chocolate ice cream, softened (see notes)
Place wafers from one box of chocolate wafers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely crushed (see notes). Transfer to a large bowl and stir in butter and sugar until moistened. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9- to 10-inch springform pan.
Set aside 6 wafers from the second box. Spoon 3 cups ice cream into pan and smooth top. Place 9 wafers on top of ice cream in even layer. Keep alternating 3 cups ice cream and 9 wafers two more times, ending with an ice cream layer on top. (You should have 3 layers of wafers and 4 layers of ice cream).
Cut reserved cookies in half and stick cookie cut side down into ice cream around the top perimeter. Freeze cake until completely solid, about 3 hours. Run a hot wet knife along inside of pan to loosen, and serve. Run a heavy duty knife under hot water before slicing the cake.
9 or 10-inch springform pan, food processor
For the creamiest results, use a high quality ice cream. Chocolate, of course, is not the only ice cream flavor that works here. Customize your cake by using your favorite ice cream flavor (preferably one that will complement the chocolate wafers).
If you don't have a food processor, you can crush the wafers by placing them in a zip-lock bag and using a rolling pin to pound the bag.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 12 to 14|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 26g||33%|
|Saturated Fat 14g||72%|
|Total Carbohydrate 60g||22%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||9%|
|Total Sugars 44g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||4%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|