Ice cream cake is, hands-down, my favorite kind of cake. The thing I'm picky about, though, is that it must actually have cake. Ice cream cakes consisting of only ice cream are just a gallon of ice cream in disguise.
Now that we've established what must go into an ice cream cake, here's a fail-proof way to make them in the summer: in a trusty muffin tin to make cute, single-serving sweet treats.
Making mini ice cream cakes in a muffin tin is all about layering. Start by lining the tins with plastic wrap to make removing the finished cakes a cinch. Next, cut rounds of purchased pound cake out. Any flavor of cake will work, but sturdy, dense cakes are best here.
The ice cream layers come next. I like using two different types of ice cream, separated by a thin chocolate wafer cookie for some crunch. Then the whole muffin tin goes into the freezer so that the ice cream hardens up again. All this magic can be done up to a week in advance.
Finally comes the decorating part: Make homemade magic shell by melting together chocolate chips and coconut oil, then pour it over the cakes, top with sprinkles, and watch the shells harden right before your eyes. Decorating can be done a whole day ahead, too.
There are a lot of great reasons to make mini ice cream cakes this summer: You can customize each one if you'd like, it's probably easier to fit a muffin tin in the freezer than a bigger cake pan, they can be completely made ahead, and you can pull out the exact number of servings you need from the freezer when it's time for ice cream cake!
A Junior High Fourth of July Party
We're celebrating the 4th of July with a big dose of junior high nostalgia, fulfilling the longing for the foods that transport us back to a holiday filled with cannonball competitions at the pool, fireworks after sunset, and more hot dogs and ice cream than you can imagine.
Almost everything on this menu, from the slow-cooker queso to the muffin-tin ice cream cakes, can be prepared days in advance, finished off before the party starts, and requires almost no tending once guests arrive.
Mini Ice Cream Cakes
pound cake (see Recipe Notes)
chocolate wafer cookies (optional)
Let the ice cream sit at room temperature to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make sure there is enough room in the freezer for a standard 12-cup muffin tin to sit flat. Spray the wells of the muffin tin with cooking spray. Cut 12 (5-inch) squares of plastic wrap and line each well with a square (the cooking spray helps the plastic wrap stick to the sides).
Cut the pound cake lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide planks. Use a 2 1/4-inch-wide round cookie or biscuit cutter and cut out 12 rounds of pound cake. Place a cake round in each muffin well. (If you don't have a cutter, see Recipe Notes below.)
Spoon ice cream from the first pint (about 2 scant tablespoons per well) over the pound cake and spread into an even layer (you will not use all of it). If using, place a chocolate wafer in each well on top of the ice cream (don't worry if the cookies break). Spoon ice cream from the second pint over the first layer of ice cream or wafers and spread into an even layer. Place the muffin tin in the freezer and freeze until solid, at least 1 hour.
When ready to serve, make the topping: Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on the low setting in 30-second bursts, stirring between bursts, until just melted and smooth. (Alternatively, melt on the stovetop.) If the mixture is very hot, let cool, stirring occasionally, until about body temperature.
Grasping the plastic wrap, remove an ice cream cake from the pan. Remove and discard the plastic wrap and place the ice cream cake on a serving plate cake-side up. Spoon the chocolate topping over the top of the cake to completely cover, letting excess drip down the sides. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of sprinkles. Repeat with the remaining cakes. (Work with only a few cakes at a time since the topping hardens quickly.) Serve immediately.
Pound cake: For this recipe, I used a 10.75-ounce package of frozen Sara Lee pound cake that was thawed in the refrigerator. The pound cake slices more cleanly when it's cold.
Cutting the pound cake: If you don't have a round cutter, don't worry! Just cut the pound cake into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut each slice into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Trimming the strips as needed, line the muffin tins with a single layer of the pound cake, packing the pieces as close together as possible so that there are no gaps.
Make ahead: The ice cream cakes can be assembled and finished with the chocolate coating up to a month ahead. After the chocolate has hardened, immediately store the cakes chocolate-side up in a single layer in a hard-sided container in the freezer.
- Food styling by Barrett Washburne