There was that one, brief moment of clarity, when I thought of just buying an ice-cream cake. For years, smart mothers had been heading to neighborhood Carvel stores for perfectly pre-portioned, reasonably priced, decorative, theme inspired— cakes. But OH NO, not me. I mean, how hard could it be, I reasoned? What would my grandmother have done? This would be more individual, I decided! I could tailor make the cake to be exactly what my son dreamed of when he dreamed of ice-cream (which was nightly).
I only had one mishap because I rushed too fast to soften the final layer of Vanilla ice-cream (hiking my paddle up to high speed, reasoning somehow that it would soften quicker, not caterpault around the room) and my kitchen ended up an exploded milky lactose disaster (which might also have had something to do with my dated $35 dollar mixmaster, that I found in a yard sale in Chelsea). But other than that, making an ice-cream cake is not hard at all, in fact, it's super easy! Just tell that to my floorboards that I'll be picking pale dairy flecks out of for years to come. But seriously, you just need time, a little patience, some level space in your freezer and a good ice-cream brand that you love. Done!
1 Spring Form Pan (9x3 inch or 23 x 8 cm)
4 x tubs of 22 oz ice-cream, in different flavors. I used ice-cream from il laboratorio del gelato.
One bar of chocolate. I used Mast Brothers chocolate and specifically their Stumptown Coffee bar that has coffee beans crushed into the chocolate.
1 small carton of heavy cream —whipped
Bag of Australian Banana candy or other candy, fresh or dried fruit topping.
FOR THE MERINGUE:
6 egg whites, separated from their yolks while cold, then bought to room temperature before beating.
1 and a half cups of fine white sugar.
1 and a half tablespoons of cornflour
2 teaspoons of distilled white vinegar
- I used 4 x 22 oz tubs from the wonderful 'il Laboratorio del Gelato' The flavors were Milk Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Banana/Mascarpone, (they ran out of Banana and mixed in some Mascarpone for me, it was actually a really nice combination) and Vanilla but you can use your favorite supermarket brand, or whatever ice-cream you like.
- IT'S SIMPLE: Just soften each tub of ice-cream (I let mine sit out on the kitchen counter for a good 30 mins, but if you don't have a lot of time put the beginning-to-soften ice-cream in a mix master with the paddle attachment and beat very slowly until it softened enough to spread) Smear into the spring form pan and then place the pan, covered with plastic wrap on a flat surface in your freezer. When the first layer is frozen hard, soften the next flavor and apply it, freeze again, until you have applied all 4 layers in and have reached the top of the pan.
- THE MERINGUE LAYER: Place 6 egg whites in a standing mixer/kitchen aid and beat slowly, then as they turn white add the sugar and cornflour slowly, move to medium speed and add the vinegar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula make a giant mound of the meringue, roughly the size of your spring form pan— on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake at 250 for one hour and 10 minutes. Checking to see it does not burn.
- Nestle your child's favorite candy, sliced fruit, fresh banana, strawberries even. What about edible flowers in bright colors? Something that compliments your ice-cream flavors. I love these Australian banana candy that I had as a child. (My mother kindly sent over a bag, but there is a link listed above if you want to order them in the States)
Lopsided, slightly melted, (not remotely Carvel perfect) with the meringue a tiny bit overcooked, and when I put the Banana candy in I wondered if it looked like an alien (or me on a bad hair day). But was there any left? Nope, and was my son so thrilled that he did the happy ice-cream dance? Yes. So in the end, what else really matters?