Ice cream cake has always been the epitome of summertime and birthdays to me. It has all the things that a birthday party needs: cake (or in this case, brownies!), ice cream, something crunchy, and lots of gooey fudge.
What’s the Best Way to Assemble This Cake?
While ice cream cake might seem like an ambitious project, it’s really just an assembly job. I baked a from-scratch brownie for this, but a boxed brownie will do the job just as well.
Assembly starts with the brownie base that’s been baked and cooled. Then comes the ice cream! We add one layer of ice cream, followed by a layer of chunky crushed cookies, and top that with another layer of ice cream. Finally, the cake gets a glossy covering of fudge sauce.
The fudge sauce is so easy, thick, and rich. It’s slightly more spreadable than other versions, but I wanted to be able to spread it cold, so it wouldn’t melt the cake.
What Is the Best Pan to Use?
A springform pan is the easiest pan to use for this cake. It’s a cinch to remove the cake from the pan, no flipping! Plus, you can both bake the brownie layer and build the cake in one pan.
If you don’t have a springform pan, feel free to use a round cake pan or a 9x13. Just make sure you place parchment paper in the bottom of the pan with enough hanging over the sides so you can lift the cake out of the pan. Or keep it all in the pan; pour the fudge sauce over the top; slice, and serve!
What Is the Best Ice Cream to Use?
I went vanilla here, because it’s classic, and that visual contrast cannot be beaten. Plus, Oreos and ice cream are forever a match made in heaven, and they provide the perfect crunchy texture.
But that said, the ice cream can literally be any flavor you want. I am always into a coffee and chocolate combo, but strawberry ice cream with crushed peanut butter cookies would be interesting and fun. Let your food brain run wild!
Make This Ahead of Time
This cake is great to make ahead of time. You can bake the brownie layer up to a month in advance and freeze it. Wrap the entire pan well in two layers of plastic or foil.
You can also assemble the cake in advance, but I wouldn't do it more than a week ahead, because I wouldn't want the cake to get freezer burn (or absorb any weird freezer smells).
You can freeze the cake with the fudge topping if you want. Either way, freeze the assembled cake in the pan, covered well with a layer of plastic and foil.
The Best Way to Slice an Ice Cream Cake
Since this cake is frozen, use a hot knife to slice it. This will help the knife move through the frozen ice cream layers easily and give you clean slices.
To do this, I boil a kettle of water, pour into a tall vessel wide enough to fit the blade of my knife all the way to the hilt, then dip the knife in for about 15 seconds; dry it with a towel; then slice. It works like a charm and is actually very satisfying. Repeat the steps each time for super sharp, perfect slices.
Love Ice Cream and Cake? Try These Recipes!
- If classic is your style, this Vanilla Birthday Cake is calling your name!
- More of a chocolate kinda person? I get it—try this luscious Sour Cream Chocolate Cake.
- Gluten-free? No problem. We’ve got you covered with this tender GF Vanilla Cake.
- Looking to connect your kid-at-heart self with your adult self? Try this Oreo Cookie and Coffee Ice Cream.
- Break from the usual chocolate and vanilla, and make this Cinnamon Ice Cream.
Note: We updated this recipe on September 6, 2021 to modify the brownie base.
Brownie Ice Cream Cake with Fudge Sauce
This cake also works in a 9” x 2-3/4” springform pan. Bake the brownie layer 20 minutes.
- For the brownies:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the ice cream cake:
- 1 gallon vanilla ice cream, or any flavor you like
- 6 ounces Oreo cookies, crushed (about 15 cookies)
- For the fudge sauce (Makes 2 cups):
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or chips)
- 1/4 cup water
- Pinch of kosher salt
Prepare the oven:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and line a 10-inch springform pan with parchment.
Make the brownie batter:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Keep an eye on it; you want it to get hot enough to start sputtering. As soon as it sputters, add the chopped chocolate all at once. Swirl the pan to coat the chocolate with the melted butter. Remove from heat and let sit for about 3 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt.
As the chocolate sits, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
With a silicone spatula, stir the butter-chocolate mixture until melted and smooth. (If parts of the chocolate are not melted, return to the pan to low heat and stir constantly until all the chocolate is melted.) Stir in the brown sugar; the mixture will be gritty. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth, then add the vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture to create a smooth, satin-y batter.
Bake the brownie:
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with an offset metal spatula (the layer of batter will be thin). Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. The center will feel soft but not squishy if you touch it gently with your fingertip. Do not overbake the brownie, which will make cutting through the finished ice cream cake difficult.
Cool and freeze the brownie base:
Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
Once cooled, place in the freezer for about 1 hour. Unmold the frozen brownie base, invert the pan, and peel the parchment off the bottom of the brownie before replacing the brownie back on the base of the pan and securing the side. We are freezing the brownie and pan together so both are very cold when we add the ice cream layers.
Crush the cookies:
Put the Oreos in a ziptop bag, seal it, then smash them with a wooden spoon or rolling pin until you have chunks that range in size from small fragments to chunks the size of dimes and nickels.
Prepare the ice cream layer:
About 15 minutes before the brownie layer is done freezing, let the ice cream stand at room temp for about 10 minutes until it’s soft enough to scoop but isn’t so soft that it is melting. Scoop the ice cream into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle until the ice cream is an even texture and soft enough to spread.
You can also let the ice cream soften a little more and mix it by hand. The mixing helps homogenize the texture and makes the ice cream easier to spread, while also making sure you don’t get weird, icy spots when it refreezes.
Add the ice cream layer and freeze:
Spread half of the ice cream over the frozen brownie, top with the crushed cookies, and spread the remaining ice cream over the top. Freeze for about 5 hours or until solid.
Make the fudge:
While the cake freezes, make the fudge sauce. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the condensed milk, chocolate, and water.
Microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring between each until the fudge is smooth. Stir in a pinch of salt and let the fudge cool to room temperature. Cover and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to spoon over the cake.
Unmold the cake:
Once the cake has frozen, remove the springform collar. I use a hair dryer to do this: I just point it about 2-3 inches away from the outside of the pan, and rotate the pan. This melts the outside just enough to remove the collar. You can also use a paring knife to loosen the cake from the pan, and place it on a serving dish.
Top with fudge:
The fudge will have thickened, but it should still be spreadable. Pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup cooled fudge onto the center of the cake. Use a spoon or spatula to gently push it to the edges until the top is completely covered and some fudge drips down the side.
Add more fudge if necessary. Serve the cake immediately after topping with the fudge.
Alternatively, you can top the cake with the fudge and freeze it again. The fudge will not be saucy, but it will take on a truffle-like texture once frozen.
Cut and serve:
Dip a knife in hot water. Dry the blade, then cut the cake into slices. Freeze any leftover cake slices wrapped well in plastic.