This vanilla ice cream cake recipe is so easy to make – complete with chocolate crunchies and all.
In December, we have a few birthdays to celebrate. Since my family prefers ice cream cake over regular birthday cake, I usually buy one from the supermarket or our local ice cream store.
But as this past December was closing out, we still had two tubs of vanilla ice cream left over from THANKSGIVING, of all things.
The practical side of me had a really hard time with the idea of going out and buying an expensive ice cream cake when I had ice cream languishing in the freezer.
So, I thought – why not try my hand at making my own. Even though I had to buy a few things to make it happen, I figured in total I would save money and use up ingredients that I had on hand.
Happily, the recipe came out really well and tasted delicious.
But keep in mind that the images that I am sharing with you are real life photos – meaning they are not all staged and magazine-y.
Honestly, when I make something good, it doesn't really last very long in our house – certainly not long enough to photograph perfectly – which is a good thing, I think.
I also don't plan to make a homemade vanilla ice cream cake on a daily or weekly basis – because I don't need all those calories.
So here goes.
Things You Will Need To Make This Vanilla Ice Cream Cake Recipe
How to Make a Homemade Ice Cream Cake
The first thing you will need is an 8 inch springform pan. I imagine a nonstick version would be a good choice, but mine is ancient and does not have a nonstick coating.
I used two 1.5 containers of vanilla ice cream in total.
Make the First Layer
The first thing I did was to thaw one tub of the vanilla ice cream on the counter until it was still frozen but soft enough to mix into a smooth consistency. You don't want it to melt into a liquid.
This would be my first layer.
Make the Chocolate Crunchies
While the ice cream was thawing, I worked on making a layer of chocolate crunchies to go in between the two ice cream layers.
The easiest way to crush the chocolate graham crackers is to seal them in a gallon sized ziploc bag, place the bag on a large cutting board to protect your counter and pound them up a bit with the smooth side of a meat mallet.
Dump the chocolate graham cracker crumbs into a small mixing bowl, squeeze in the Magic Shell, and mix it all up.
Then smooth it into the bottom of the springform pan in an even layer.
Next sprinkle half of your chocolate crunchies mixture in a nice thick layer on top of your first vanilla layer.
Now place these in the freezer for an hour or more so they can firm up for a bit.
While this is happening go about your day – this vanilla ice cream cake recipe involves some waiting between phases.
You can leave the other half of your chocolate crunchies mixture out at room temperature until the next step.
Make the Second Layer
Once enough time has passed for the first ice cream layer to become full frozen, you can put the second tub of vanilla ice cream out to soften up.
Using the same method, when the tub of ice cream is at the right consistency, dump it into mixing bowl and smooth it out by stirring with a stiff spatula.
Spread this ice cream evenly on top of the crunchies layer in your springform pan.
Now top this ice cream layer with the other half of your chocolate crunchies.
Put the pan back in the freezer to firm up and set again.
Once the entire vanilla ice cream cake is frozen up nicely, you can make the whipped cream frosting for the sides – but make sure to keep the cake in the freezer until you are ready to frost it.
Make the Whipped Cream Frosting
Whisk it on high until there are stiff peaks. Then whisk in about 3 tablespoons powdered sugar and one teaspoon vanilla.
I don't like to make the frosting too sweet because there is enough sugar in the ice cream and the crunchies. But if you prefer a sweeter taste you can add more sugar.
Next dissolve 2 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin (my box of gelatin had 4 individual packets inside – one of these packets is about 2 teaspoons exactly) in 3 tablespoons of hot water. This gelatin mixture should be a liquid consistency – if not, put in the microwave for a few seconds.
Whisk the dissolved gelatin into the whipped cream.
Remove the Cake from the Pan
Now, take the ice cream cake out of the freezer and unbuckle the springform pan. Loosen the edges with a plastic knife if necessary and remove the outer ring.
I left my homemade vanilla ice cream cake on the disk from the springform pan because I didn't want to mess it up by trying to separate the two. But if you are not serving the cake at home, then you may need to try your hand at removing the bottom disk.
Frost the Ice Cream Cake
Take your whipped cream frosting and carefully spread it evenly all over the sides of the cake.
Try not to get too many crunchies mixed into the frosting. It's a little tricky.
Use a piping bag or silicone frosting bulbs to pipe a decorative edge around the top and bottom of the cake.
Once you have frosted the ice cream cake, place it back in the freezer for the frosting to set.
As you can see, there is a lot of waiting and in and out of the freezer with this recipe. But, it is relatively easy to make. There is no baking involved at all.
Print This Recipe
- 2 - one and a half quart containers vanilla ice cream
- 3 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers (about half a 14 oz box)
- 1 7.25oz bottle chocolate ice cream topping that hardens when it gets cold
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
- 3 tablespoons hot water
- Soften 1 1.5 container of vanilla ice cream until it is still frozen but of a spreadable consistency.
- While ice cream is softening, crush chocolate graham crackers in a Ziploc bag using the smooth side of a clean meat mallet.
- Pour the crushed graham crackers into a small mixing bowl and squeeze in one bottle of chocolate ice cream topping that hardens when cold. Mix well and set aside.
- Dump the softened tub of ice cream into a large mixing bowl and stir with a stiff spatula until smooth but still frozen.
- Spread this softened ice cream into an even layer in an 8 inch round springform pan.
- Spread half of the chocolate graham cracker mixture evenly on top of the ice cream layer.
- Put the springform pan containing your first ice cream and crunchies layers into the freezer to set for about an hour or so.
- Once the time has elapsed, put your second tub of ice cream out to soften (keep the first layer in the freezer until your second layer is ready).
- When the ice cream is the right consistency, repeat as above - dump the container into a large mixing bowl, stir, and spread in an even layer on top of the first two layers (ice cream and crunchies) in your springform pan.
- Top this second layer of ice cream with your remaining crushed chocolate graham crackers mixture.
- Place the ice cream cake back into the freezer for an hour or more to freeze and set.
- When the time has elapsed, start to make the whipped cream frosting. Keep the cake in the freezer until you are ready to frost.
- Using the whisk attachment for your stand mixer, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
- Whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla.
- In a small bowl dissolve the powdered unflavored gelatin in the hot water to a liquid consistency (place in microwave for a few seconds if it is not liquid).
- Whisk the dissolved gelatin into your whipped cream.
- Remove the ice cream cake from the freezer and unbuckle the springform pan. Carefully dislodge the outer ring using a plastic knife around the edges if necessary.
- Place the ice cream cake on a serving plate and spread the whipped cream frosting around the sides evenly.
- Using a piping bag or silicone piping bulb pipe a decorative edge around the top and bottom of the cake.
- Put the cake back in the freezer for about an hour and let the frosting set.
- Serve and enjoy.