my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

November 12, 2012

my adventures with ice cream cake

once upon a time, a long long time ago, i made an ice cream cake for my sister's wedding. a huge ice cream cake. the most ridiculous ice cream cake i have ever made. really though, it's not hard to call it the most ridiculous, because i'm really not in the habit of making ice cream cake.

anyway, this was certainly the biggest i've ever made, because my goal as i set out was that it would be able to feed 60 people. so that's a lot of cake. lucky for me, i happen to have a pan that would be big enough to make that many servings. as a bonus, it just fit in my freezer. i thought it would be perfect.

and then i thought some more and realized that when i normally make cakes in this giant pan, they are the regular sort, the kind that take eggs and flour and sugar and get baked in the oven. and because this pan produces such huge cakes, i have something very sturdy that i use to turn them out on: a shelf that came out of an old wall unit. seriously. it's made of particle board and covered with a plastic veneer, and whenever i use it for cakes i usually cover it with foil so it looks all shiny and pretty. but it's perfect for my cake purposes, because the board itself is not heavy, and yet it doesn't bend or warp even when traveling with a 15 pound cake (and that i know from personal experience).

but the problem is that the board would not work to turn the ice cream cake out on. i needed something that i could turn the cake onto, and then set on top of a pan full of dry ice. it had to be something that wouldn't be damaged by the extreme cold and yet would transfer that cold into the cake sitting on top of it so that the ice cream wouldn't melt. and though the board is perfect for regular cakes, wood doesn't transfer cold so well.

my mother came up with a wonderful solution, she bought a full sized sheet pan that i could use. and yet it was not a perfect solution, because a full size sheet pan is not meant to be used outside of commercial kitchens. the sheet pan was too big to fit in my freezer.

and so we had to trouble shoot some more, and figure out a solution. and eventually we did, though i'll admit it made for a less than elegant execution.

i started the ice cream cake making process by lining my huge cake pan with plastic wrap. then i took cartons of ice cream (the flavor of choice happened to be rocky road), peeled off the cardboard container and sliced it into half inch thick pieces. i laid those in the bottom of the pan, and used the heat from my hands to melt everything into one giant layer. then i covered it with more plastic wrap and put in back in the freezer to harden.

the next day i took out the pan and spread marshmallow fluff over the first layer. i used marshmallow instead of the normal fudge because i thought it worked better with the rocky road flavor. then i spread a generous layer of cookie crunchies on top of the fluff. did you know that cookie crunchies are hard to find in a regular store? and did you know, if you do have to turn to a restaurant supply store, they only sell them in 10 pound boxes? it's true, i know from experience, which is why i could be so generous with the crunchy layer. then i covered my work and put it back in the freezer to set.

once the cake was hard again, i cut more blocks of ice cream to make the bottom layer, exactly like i had done with the first layer. i then froze it overnight before i turned it out onto my cake board and covered it with white chocolate whipped cream frosting. yes, i used the wooden board, covered with parchment, because the board fit in my freezer. plus it was easier to travel with. the parchment meant that all i had to do was slide an offset spatula under it and slide it onto the full sheet pan at the reception.

it was a great plan, except for the fact that the wedding coordinator decided to be help and set the ice cream cake up. but she didn't remove the wooden board first, and by the time it was noticed, the cake had already begun to melt. not that it was really her fault, because there had been a breakdown in communication. she didn't know my plan, and i didn't know of her help. still, the cake was a hit, even though it was a bit soft. and there was more than enough to go around.

still, i don't think i'll be making another ice cream cake anytime soon. though i do have a lot of cookie crunchies on my hands. but i think i can come up with some creative uses for them.

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