Aaron’s birthday was last weekend and I wanted to do something very special. He loves ice cream cakes and I thought, as I often do, “Hey, I’ve never done this before, but I bet I can.” For the most part, I was right, but I also definitely learned some important lessons while making this. This was also made possible because Alberta Co-Op sells vanilla beans for $2 a piece (sooo much better than grocery store prices).
I got most of my help from those masters of ice cream, Ben & Jerry. The results are super decadent and worth the mess created while making it. I made a double recipe of the brownies because my cake pans are larger than those used in the original recipe. The double recipe is listed below.
Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cake from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book and Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker Manual (plus my brain):
Makes one fantastic cake
For the ice cream-
2 c. heavy cream
2 c. whole cream
1 2” piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 egg yolks
½ c. sugar
2 Tb. vanilla extract
1 c. crushed Oreos
For the brownies-
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate (I went Ghirardelli because it was a birthday cake)
1 c. butter
8 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. salt
4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
For the cake-
1 qt. heavy or whipping cream, cold
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ c. confectioners’ sugar
10 Oreo cookies
Make the ice cream ahead of time if you can. I didn’t, so I did the brownies first.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour two 10” cake pans. Do this well. Seriously. I had issues getting my brownies out of the pan. You’ll see this below.
Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Let cool in the pan to room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, you can quickly cool it in the refrigerator, but be sure it doesn’t get solid again. This method works really well.
Beat the eggs and salt in a mixing bowl until very fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture. Add the flour and fold just until blended. (It is important to fold in the chocolate and flour gently to keep the batter as fluffy as possible.)
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans completely.
Make the ice cream if you haven’t already. Perhaps give yourself a vanilla bean mustache before moving forward.
Combine cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add vanilla bean and heat until mixture almost boils, about 5-8 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
Meanwhile beat yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract in a small bowl until light yellow and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Mine wasn’t quite light yellow because I used natural sugar and that’s not super-white and refined sugar. Add 4 tablespoons hot cream/milk mixture and stir until combined. Gradually add egg yolk mixture to warm cream mixture, stirring continuously to prevent eggs from curdling. Cook over low heat until slightly thickened and mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 3-4 minutes.
Cool completely. Place mixture in a covered container and store in the refrigerator overnight. Or, if you’re like me and didn’t give yourself a lot of time, chill over an ice bath for about 30 minutes to make the ice cream right away.
When cool, scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add to ice cream mixture. Discard bean shell. Stir until well combined. Pour into freezer bowl of ice cream maker and freeze for 20 minutes. Add crushed cookies and freeze for another 5 minutes.
Turn the brownie cakes out onto a cutting board. This is where it got a little messy, but it was easy enough to slap them together again. Clean out one of the cake pans. Place one of the brownie cakes on the bottom of the pan. Spread a layer of about half the ice cream over the brownie and try not to leave any gaps. I recommend doing this in a sink as the ice cream will start to melt everywhere. Place the other brownie cake on top of the ice cream and repeat. Place the cake in the coldest part of the freezer and freeze for at least 2 hours. Overnight is best.
When the cake is hard, remove the outer part of the cake pan and transfer to a plate. Return to the freezer until it is hard, about 10 minutes.
While you wait for the cake to harden, bear or whisk the cream, vanilla extract, and sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Using a spatula, spread the whipped cream over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with more cookies.
This was super delicious, but I would change a number of things. For one, I think a single layer of ice cream between two brownie layers would be better than the two ice cream layers. I felt like that as the cake became softer to make it easier for cutting, the top ice cream layer became very thin. I think it would’ve seemed more ice cream cake-y with a thicker layer of ice cream. The other possibility would be cutting the brownie layers in half and creating more layers in general.
Also, the whipped cream topping, with a quart of whipped cream, makes way too much. You could get enough topping with half the amount of cream. Other than making it in the sink and just having more lead time in general, this cake was awesome. It was a big hit at Aaron’s birthday party and I’m so glad to have made something that awesome for his birthday. The brownies are super rich and very chocolaty. The ice cream was the best vanilla I’ve ever made. Overall, so worth the time.