Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake + Tales of July

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

Hello my friends!

I’m happy to report that I lived to tell the story of July 2014.

Here are a few of the adventures that have been going on in my world during the past month:

1. I shot the cover of my book! This was a lot of pressure, in a way, but I think it’s super-fun and I hope you love it. Speaking of the book, let me tell you that this crazy book o’ sugary delights is officially called The Sweetapolita Bakebook. Hooray! And while I will be sharing many more detailed posts about the book, I can tell you that, even though it is still several months from release (April 7th, 2015), it is already available for pre-order in many online shops! You can find it for an amazing price on Amazon.com in the US: The Sweetapolita Bakebook, or if you are here in Canada with me, you can pre-order on Amazon.ca or Indigo.

For my international friends, there are already many options for online pre-ordering, such as amazon.co.uk (UK), amazon.es (Spain), and many more! You’ll notice that the cover has not yet been “revealed,” on these listings, but that is soon to come. I will also be sharing that here with a whole bunch of fun details about the book itself.

2. I turned 40. Oh right, that. But I’m okay! And because I’m all cake-backwards in life, I eat it all year long and get excited to eat some other form of dessert on my birthday. Last year was lemon meringue pie from Betty’s in Niagara Falls (and no, I didn’t buy a slice, I bought the entire pie). This year was the most decadent of apple caramel crumbles with vanilla bean ice cream. Now I’m back to cake. But you know, 40 isn’t so bad. Since the girls are a bit bigger now, I’m finding that I have more time to do the little things that being busy and in your thirties with babies doesn’t necessarily allow for–things like painting my nails (often), shopping (and not in the kids’ section at Target), organizing my life and closets, doing what I love to do in the kitchen, and more. I think it’s going to be a decade of strength, change, adventure and, well, more cake. Oh, and possibly more of these.

Sweetapolita

3. I had a super-fun photo shoot done for my author photo and such (above), by the talented Wendy & Michael Lewicki from Wendy Alana Photography near Toronto (you might also know Michael from his incredible blog, Verses from my Kitchen). I fell in love with Wendy’s style, and couldn’t wait to shoot with them. Just as I suspected, they are amazing people in “real life”–warm, talented, kind, and just the kind of people you want to be around. Even with dark skies, severe heat and humidity in the kitchen during shoot, and the impending storm outside during the shoot, they pulled off some serious magic. I can’t wait to work with them again!

4. My sister-in-law got married! And my cakelets were (the world’s cutest) flower girls. And I was a bridesmaid (are you still allowed to be called a “bridesmaid” when you’re 40?). Oh, and I made a trio of three-tiered vintage-inspired pastel ruffle wedding cakes for the occasion. It was a big, happy, stunningly beautiful, pastel-blue-and-green day! Congratulations, Mary & Ted! ♥

5. I was oven-less for 10 days. As in one-third of the month! It’s true. I officially baked the life right out of my other oven, which was only 2 years old. So this whole I-can’t-bake-a-cake thing was quite a test to my creativity. But alas, there are so many alternatives: candy-making, no-bake desserts, homemade popsicles, and, of course, ice cream cakes. So, as the serendipitous result of my not having an oven for 10 days, this birthday party ice cream cake was born:

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

Side note: I’m really fond of this photo–I love action shots, and yet I’m never in them since I usually shoot alone or with my cakelets. This time I was able to nab my husband to take this photo of me sprinkling the cake, and I think he did a pretty great job!

Oh yes, this cake! We should really talk about this cake. I don’t actually make enough ice cream cakes, I’ve decided. They are so easy to do, and can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. Aside from the whipped cream frosting, every ingredient is store bought, so it’s truly just taking ice cream in one form and magically turning it into a cake using cake pans, and then using your imagination to add some elements of texture in between the layers. I probably could have gone crazy with adding fun elements inside this cake, but I think I still kept it simple. The whipped cream frosting is the perfect option for frosting an ice cream cake, because it has such light and airy texture, and isn’t very sweet. And since it takes colour so nicely and we can use it to pipe borders and such, it works like a dream.

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

So here’s the craziness that’s going on under that layer of pastel whipped cream frosting. When choosing the flavours for this cake, I turned to my childhood–always a magnificent place to look for inspiration. I thought about all of the treats I loved most, and how I could represent them in this cake. So starting from the bottom, we have an Oreo crumb crust, cotton candy ice cream, Oreos, birthday cake ice cream, bubble gum ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, and then neapolitan ice cream (don’t you just love opening those “bricks” of neapolitan ice cream–depending on when you were born, it can really be an instant throwback to childhood).

That’s a lot of fun in one cake–especially one for which there is only about 15 minutes active time. Because each layer has to be very well chilled before working with it and in between each step, the overall project does take quite a bit of inactive time, so you would want to plan ahead on this one. If you made it over the course of a day and then chilled the whole thing overnight for the next day, it would work best.

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

Delightful, right? What I love about cakes like this, is that each slice is different–like a work of art. ♥

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake

Serving Size: One 6-layer, 9-inch round ice cream cake

Who needs an oven to make a 6-layer cake? Layers of cotton candy ice cream, oreos, birthday cake ice cream, bubble gum ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, and neapolitan ice cream sit atop a buttery Oreo crumb crust and are smothered in pastel whipped cream and sprinkles for this ultimate birthday party (or any-day-of-the-week party) ice cream cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (125 g) chocolate cookie crumbs (I used Oreo Baking Crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup (115 g) butter, melted
  • 1.5 L carton of each ice cream--cotton candy, birthday cake, bubble gum, and neapolitan, or flavours of your choice (total of 4 standard cartons of ice cream)
  • 8-10 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreo)
  • 6 classic ice cream sandwiches
  • For the Whipped Cream Frosting:
  • 2 teaspoons gelatin (such as Knox)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • Few drops each turquoise and pink gel paste colour (I used AmeriColor)
  • Sprinkles!
  • You will also need:
  • 9-inch springform pan
  • 2 9-inch round cake pans
  • Plastic wrap

Instructions

  1. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment. Cover the inside of two 9-inch cake pans with plastic wrap--bottom and sides--leaving a few inches of overhang.
  2. Into a medium bowl, add the chocolate cookie crumbs and the butter, and stir until combined. Transfer the crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan, pressing into an even layer (I use the bottom of a measuring cup). Place the pan into the freezer to set for 15 minutes.
  3. Take one of the ice cream flavours out of the freezer, and use a knife to cut slabs of the ice cream. Transfer all of it onto the crust layer. (If you're using a multi-coloured variety like the cotton candy variety I used, try not to spread it around too much, or the colours will become muddled.) Place a layer of plastic wrap on top and press the ice cream into an even layer. Place the pan back into the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, repeat this step with the 2 prepared cake pans, adding a layer of bubble gum ice cream to one, and neapolitan to the other. Add a layer of ice cream sandwiches to the top of the bubble gum layer, cutting some in half and quarters to fit as many in as possible. Freeze both pans for at least 2 hours.
  5. Remove the springform pan from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap. Place the Oreos on top of the ice cream in an even layer. Add all of the birthday cake ice cream and flatten with another layer of plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
  6. Assembly of the Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake:
  7. Remove the springform pan from the freezer and run a small sharp knife around the edges to loosen. Release the latch and gently remove the outer ring from the cake. Remove the birthday cake layer from the freezer and use the plastic wrap overhang to remove the layer from the pan. Peel off the plastic wrap and place the birthday cake ice cream layer on top of the cake. Repeat with the bubble gum ice cream layer. Finally, remove the neapolitan/ice cream sandwich layer from the freezer and from the pan, and then invert the layer ice-cream sandwich side down and place on top of the cake. Cover the entire cake in plastic wrap, wiggle into place if necessary, and return to the freezer for at least 4-6 hours (ideally overnight) to set.
  8. For the Whipped Cream Frosting:
  9. Place a stainless stand mixer bowl and the whisk attachment (or if using a hand mixer, a stainless mixing bowl and the mixer beaters) in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
  10. Into a small microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin onto the water and let sit for 10 minutes. Microwave the mixture for 20 seconds and stir to combine.
  11. Remove the bowl and whisk from the freezer, add the cream and sugar to the bowl and whip on medium speed for 30 seconds. With the mixer running, add the gelatin mixture in one go. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until medium-stiff peaks form (thick enough to spread/pipe/hold its shape, but not over-whipped and grainy). Transfer about 1 1/4 cups of the whipped cream to a medium bowl and tint it pastel pink. Cover the pink cream with wrap and refrigerate until ready to pipe the border. Tint the remaining whipped cream turquoise.
  12. Remove the chilled cake from the freezer and transfer the cake from the springform pan base (remove the parchment round) to a cake board or plate.
  13. Frost the cake with the turquoise whipped cream, just as you would a regular cake--use a small offset palette knife to cover the top of the cake, and a medium straight palette knife to frost the sides. Return the cake to the freezer for about an hour.
  14. Remove the pink frosting from the fridge and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large swirl tip (I used #887). Remove the cake from the freezer and pipe a pink border around the top of the cake. Gently press sprinkles into the bottom third of the cake, and add a few on top, if desired. Return the cake to the freezer until ready to serve. The cake will keep up to 1 week in the freezer.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • You can modify this recipe to any number of layers–simply omit or add the ice cream layers you wish. Since making extra layers is as simple as spreading ice cream into a plastic-wrap-covered cake pan, you could keep going. And going. #skyhighicecreamcake
  • For the gel paste colors, I used AmeriColor turquoise and Soft Pink.
  • I used rainbow jimmies for the sides, but of course you can use any sprinkles you love.
  • If you were really longing for a super-sweet frosting for this cake, more like a traditional birthday cake style, you could certainly do that.

Good luck & enjoy!



 

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Double Chocolate & Banana Ice Cream Cake

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

Here’s the thing about four-year-olds: They are clever, they are charming, and they let you get away with nothing! Nothing at all, really, such as missing and not baking cakes for their toys’ birthdays. Yep. But, as you may have guessed, I am very open to the idea, and felt simply terrible that I forgot dear Clementine the Monkey’s birthday. Bad mommy. Bad. When Reese explained that it was Clementine’s birthday, and that we forgot to bake her a cake, I asked her what kind of cake would she want. She replied, “She’s a monkey, mommy, so banana, ice cream, and sprinkles, of course!” I simply couldn’t argue with that logic.

Sweetapolita

The good news for Clementine (and my girls) is that I’ve been wanting a reason to try making an ice cream cake, and I thought this seemed to be the perfect occasion. I found a fun and easy no-bake recipe for a round two-layer ice cream cake, and gave it a whirl. I was pretty enamoured with the concept: ice cream, a chocolate cookie crust, a ganache shell, and no-bake. Well, it was no-bake until I decided to replace the middle layer with my favourite brownie recipe, but it’s not necessary to make this cake yummy.

I did love the chewy brownie center, and I loved the idea that the possibilities for ice cream cake are endless: you can add almost anything you can dream up, and chances are it will take great inside an ice cream cake. Next time I would be tempted to create homemade ice cream for this cake, but a premium ice cream (they freeze well) worked well. You definitely could use homemade, if you enjoy and have time to make your own.

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

The original recipe was peppermint, but we assumed that Clementine would want no part of that, so I went with a premium vanilla ice cream mixed with some frozen banana puree (any reason to use my food processor excites me). It was really a pretty simple way to go, but I wanted to avoid filling it with candy (although you definitely could, and it’s safe to say that I will too in the near future), and I wanted something classic and not too sweet. It was a success!

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

After an entire night of freezing, it was finally ready to go, and the kids eagerly awaited their slices. Is it just me, or does Clementine have that cake in an unrelenting stare-lock?

Sweetapolita

Neve was definitely ready for cake. But, then again, she was born ready.

Sweetapolita

And smiles for Daddy (I’m pretty sure that those expressions of adoration are exclusive to him) while they waited ever-so-patiently.

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

It was so yummy, but I have to tell you this was the most difficult treat I’ve ever photographed. As you can imagine, it started to melt pretty quickly and the window for photography was small. Good thing it tasted so good.

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

Happy Birthday to You

Happy Birthday to You

Happy Birthday Dear Clementine

Happy Birthday to You

Here’s the recipe for the no-bake version. If you would like to try it with the brownie, you can simply omit step two and replace with your favourite brownie baked in an 8-inch round pan and chilled. I’ve included the recipe for my all-time favourite brownies below (I highly recommend making them anytime, actually) adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. Actually, I’ve been making these incredible brownies for several years now, and they are one of the most requested things I bake. I believe that using premium chocolate is the key.

Double Chocolate & Banana Ice Cream Cake

Yield: One 9-inch, 2 layer cake. Serves 12

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 8 oz. (227 g) premium bittersweet (extra dark) or semisweet (dark) chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick)(115 g) unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 packages chocolate wafers (382 g) or 382 g of Oreo cookie crumbs
  • For the Filling:
  • 7 cups of premium vanilla ice cream, slightly softened (or you can use homemade banana ice cream, and eliminate the addition of bananas)
  • 3 large bananas, frozen
  • For the Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whipping cream (heavy cream, 35%)
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) light corn syrup
  • 6 oz. (170 g) premium bittersweet (extra dark) or semisweet (dark) chocolate, finely chopped
  • Sprinkles, optional

Instructions

    For the Crust:
  1. In a heatproof bowl over simmering water, melt chocolate and butter until smooth. Stir gently with rubber spatula to make sure it is completely smooth and remove from heat.
  2. While chocolate and butter are bring warmed, grind chocolate wafers in food processor until fine crumbs (unless you are using store-bought cookie crumbs). Gently stir cookie crumbs into warm chocolate and butter mixture until just combined.
  3. Set 1 cup (240 ml) of the mixture aside, and press remaining crumbs onto the sides and then the bottom of a 9-inch round with 2-3/4" sides springform pan. Place in freezer until firm.
  4. For the Filling:
  5. Remove frozen bananas from freezer about for about 30 minutes to soften, then puree in food processor. With a wooden spoon, stir banana puree into vanilla ice cream (or, if you're using homemade banana ice cream, omit step 1-2). You will want to work fairly quickly so the ice cream doesn't become too soft.
  6. For the Glaze:
  7. Melt cream and corn syrup in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to bubble.
  8. Pour over chocolate and whisk gently in circular motion, until smooth. Let cool for about 45 minutes.
  9. Assembly of the Double Chocolate & Banana Ice Cream Cake:
  10. Spoon half of the ice cream into the frozen crust and spread evenly with an offset palette knife (you will want to place the bowl of remaining ice cream into the freezer while you work on the first half).
  11. Sprinkle and gently press the reserved crumb mixture on top, followed by 1 cup of the cooled glaze. Freeze for about an hour.
  12. Place remaining ice cream on top and freeze for about 4 hours.
  13. Warm bowl of glaze over simmering water until it has thinned, but not too warm. Spread over top of ice cream with the small offset palette knife. Sprinkle with desired decorations while glaze is still wet. Freeze overnight.
  14. Loosen sides of cake with a small knife between pan and cake, then release from springform pan, and place on plate or platter.

Notes

Best sliced when chilled and best enjoyed room temperature, warm, chilled, or even frozen.

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[ice cream cake recipe adapted from Bon Appetit]

Rich & Classic Chocolate Brownies

These rich and chocolaty brownies melt-in-your mouth, and are best enjoyed with no frosting, but only a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Ingredients

  • 6-1/2 oz. (185 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1-1/2 sticks (173 g) unsalted butter
  • 1-2/3 (332 g) cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. For use in the ice cream cake, line an 8-inch round pan (or, if you're making these apart from the Ice Cream Cake, you can use a 13 x 9-inch baking pan) with parchment paper (leave some overhang for easy removal).
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a small pot of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Leave until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove bowl from the heat, and add the sugar, stirring until well incorporated. Add the flour and stir until well combined. Stir in the eggs, vanilla, and salt, and mix until thick and smooth.
  4. Spread the batter among your pan evenly with a small offset palette knife and bake until the surface of the brownie is cracking and flaky, about 30 minutes.
  5. The center of the brownie will still be soft, and you may feel that they aren't quite done, but they will solidify a bit more during cooling. The result is a melt-in-your mouth texture.
  6. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack. Chill in pan, then remove using parchment overhang.
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[brownie recipe adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you decide to do a brownie layer, you can bake your favourite brownie in an 8-inch round pan lined with parchment paper (you will want the brownie layer to be no more than 1″ high. Cool and chill in pan, then remove from pan and place over first ice cream layer, pressing down gently, and continue with Assembly step 3.
  • The flavour combinations are absolutely endless for this dessert! Substitute any of your favourite ice cream flavours, add a layer of caramel, add some cheesecake bits, add chunks of candy — anything you can think of!
  • This cake is best sliced carefully with a sharp, hot knife as it is quite hard when it comes out of the freezer.

Good luck & enjoy!

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