I remember the year I asked my mom for a “regular” birthday cake. I think I was turning 10 and all of my friends that year had gigantic cookie cakes. I was feeling way left out, and I desperately wanted to fit in. Ice cream cakes felt weird. No one else had them. Reluctantly, she agreed to make me a cookie cake and I remember feeling incredibly disappointed when it was all said and done.
After my party, I think mom saw that disappointment, and that weekend I woke up to find my usual ice cream cake in the freezer – white cake, with mint chocolate chip ice cream. Mom just couldn’t bear not giving me my yearly ice cream cake. These are the traditions that are still so special to me, and they were special to my mom, too.
Each year we all got to choose our flavor combinations. My dad loved white cake with rocky road ice cream. My sisters were more adventurous, asking for strawberry cake with chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake with tin roof ice cream, and the combos just got more creative from there. Ice cream cakes were my family’s birthday thing. I don’t think I really realized how special they were until I was grown. Pardon my French, but – Ice cream cakes are the shit.
It’s birthday season for my family, and mom’s not around to make us our yearly ice cream cakes. It almost feels wrong to have them without her, but it also feels very, very right. It’s our thing, and it was mom’s thing.
I’ve never met anyone who does ice cream cakes like my family does ice cream cakes. I flip-flopped on posting this recipe for fear the food snobs would come out in full force, but I’m owning it. We used boxed cake and Cool Whip. You could probably make homemade cakes, but there’s no getting around the cool whip. That’s a necessity. Real whipped cream doesn’t work – it melts off.
Side note – mom never had gaps in between her ice cream and cake. It’s because she was a perfectionist at everything. For some reason, I’m not a perfectionist in the kitchen. If it tastes right, I’m happy… so I was felt ok that I had “gaps” in my cake. 😉
Ice Cream Cake
Now, for this particular cake, I used small 4″ springform pans for the cake, but that’s only because it was just the two of us eating it and we lacked freezer space and other mouths to feed. The “real deal” ice cream cake serves about 15-20 people and is made with 9″ round cake pans, typically.
Ice Cream Cake Ingredients
- 1 box cake mix of your choice
- and the ingredients needed to prepare the cake (eggs, oil, etc.)
- Cool Whip
- 1/2 gallon of the ice cream of your choice
Ice Cream Cake Directions
- Prepare the boxed cake and bake in a in a 9″ round cake pan by the directions on the box
- Freeze cooled cake
- In another 9″ round cake pan, line with a shopping bag or wax paper
- Fill pan with the ice cream of your choice
- Freeze ice cream in pan
- Cut cake in half with a long bread knife once frozen
- Place one of the halves of cake on top of the frozen ice cream and flip over – then remove paper/plastic from ice cream layer
- Add the other half of cake to the top of the cake, making a “sandwich”
- Freeze to set all together
- Remove cake and frost LIBERALLY with Cool Whip – depending on the size of your cake you may need a large tub, or several small tubs
- Freeze until hardened
- Remove cake from freezer, cut with a sharp knife and enjoy!
Things to Note
You can choose any combination of cake and ice cream flavors. Experiment with different pan shapes and sizes, too!
Making the cake a day in advance is best because it gives ample time for all the layers to freeze.
I’m so glad I was always the girl with the “weird” birthday cake and I look forward to making my own family weird ice cream cakes for each and every birthday. After all, ice cream cakes are my family’s birthday thing. They’re tradition and translated I believe the phrase “ice cream cake” means “I love you”. In fact, I’m sure of it.