Intro: Fourth of July Ice Cream Cake
Each year, my family has a big get-together for the 4th of July. We have lots of random (but good) snacks sitting out all day, and we'll have bought a couple hundred dollars' worth of fireworks for after dark. But what we have never had is a good after-fireworks celebration treat. That is, until I made this cake this year.
Step 1: Basic Ingredients
- 1.5 quarts each of strawberry and vanilla ice cream
- 1 white (or yellow) cake mix
- Blue food coloring
For the crust:
- 9-10 graham crackers (enough to make about 1.5 cups when theyre crushed)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 stick butter
If you do make this, I recommend reading throught the whole instructable to make sure you have everything, since Ill be giving some necessary recipes later on.
Step 2: Make the Crust
One of the key parts to this cake is having a springform pan. It makes molding and unmolding the cake so much easier. If you dont have a springform pan, I recommend getting one. They're pretty cheap, and if you want to continue making cakes and other desserts, you'll find it very useful.
To prepare the pan, cut a narrow piece of parchment paper (if you dont have that, wax paper will work as well) that is about half an inch taller than the sides of your pan. You can stick the ends of the paper to the pan with a small dab of oil or grease of some kind. You will also need to grease the bottom of the pan a little to keep the crust from sticking.
For the crust, the first thing you want to do is to crush the graham crackers. I suggest doing this by putting the crackers in a sealable bag, sealing it, and then going over it with a rolling pin. You want the cracker crumbs to be not much bigger than 1/16th of an inch. Mix this with the sugar, and then mix in the butter (you want the butter to be melted, by the way). It will still feel quite dry at this time. You just want it moist enough to clump together when you squeeze it in your hand.
Now press the crust into the bottom of the pan. Try to get it as even and as smooth as possible, then bake it at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Let it cool afterwards (I cooled mine rapidly by sticking in in the freezer after letting it sit for a few minutes).
Step 3: Pouring the Creams
While the crust is cooling, let the strawberry ice cream sit out for about half an hour. When it gets a bit soft, you need to microwave the ice cream for about 60-90 seconds on high. The goal is to get the ice cream to a very spreadable/pourable consistency.
After it comes out, parts of the ice cream will be very soupy (like the edges) while other parts will still be fairly hard (like the center of the tub). To get it all the same consistency, dump the ice cream into a bowl and stir it with a spoon. At this point, it will start to have the consistency of a milkshake. Pour it into the pan at this point, making sure it gets all the way to the edges. Try to smooth the top as best you can (it doesnt have to be perfect, since this is only the first layer). Now you'll need to freeze it to get it hard again, about 30-60 minutes. This is so that the vanilla ice cream doesnt mix into the strawberry when you're pouring it in. If you dont freeze the strawberry, the effect will probably look something like this, which could be pretty interesting looking.
Now, for the vanilla, do the exact same thing as for the strawberry, just make sure to smooth the top as best as you can, and get it as level as possible for the cake.
For an extra bit of texture, you can crush some more graham crackers and put it between the strawberry and vanilla. I would have done that, except I thought of it after I had already poured the vanilla.
Step 4: Make the Cake
Now you need to make the cake from the cake mix. If you're reading this instructable, you're probably smart enough to be able to mix the batter by yourself, so I wont go into any detail on that end. But what you need to do is to mix some blue food coloring into the batter so it gets a nice blue tone to it (if you're using a yellow cake mix, it will be more of a teal color). I ended up using probably close to 1/4 of a teaspoon of coloring with mine (thats just an educated guess. All I know is I used quite a bit). And I recommend using a 9x13 pan to bake the cake in, since it gives just about the perfect thickness of cake for you to use.
After it has baked, cool it in the pan and then turn it out onto a cookie sheet, top side up (this will require flipping it once you've turned it out of the pan). You should level the top at this point to make the cake about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick. You can do this by using a cake leveler, or if you dont have that, dental floss strung tightly between two skewers or toothpicks.
Step 5: Cutting It Up
This is the part where having a springform pan is really handy, since the sides can be separated from the bottom. You need to take the pan apart and leave the ice cream and bottom in the freezer. You should only do this part once all of the ice cream is nice and hard (you dont want ice cream running all over inside your freezer).
Make sure the side of the pan is locked closed again, and place it on top of the cooled cake, so that it is tangent to 2 sides of the cake. Using a sharp knife, cut the cake using the inside edge of the pan as a guide. Pull the excess away from the outside, but don't move the pan away from the cake. Take one of the excess pieces and slip it underneath the pan so that it is resting against the side of the rest of the cake, and cut the excess away as before. Keep doing this until the entire circle is cut out.
To put the cake on the ice cream, you should first peel away the parchment/wax paper if you haven't already done so. The best way to make the cake stick is by brushing a little bit of water onto the top of the vanilla ice cream, either by using a pastry brush or just dipping your finger and running it over the ice cream. This melts the top of the ice cream just a little, enough to help the cake adhere to the surface. Since the cake should just be in 3-4 large pieces, you can just pick it up gently and place it onto the ice cream. If theres any overhang, just trim it off with a knife. After this, just slip the pan sides back over the cake and lock it in place, and put it back in the freezer.
Step 6: Cream the Icing
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (you can get any brand. I usually get the generic store brand just because its cheaper)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extract
- 1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
*NOTE: the mixture tastes pretty awesome at this point. Go ahead and try it out.
While it is still whipping, pour in the cream slowly. It will start getting fluffy pretty quickly. It will be done when the mixture holds a stiff peak, after about 60-90 seconds. Just after you add the cream, be sure to stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure everything gets incorporated.
After everything is mixed, put plastic wrap over the bowl and place it in the fridge to chill. The longer that the whipped cream is out, the softer it will get. If it gets too soft, it will be a pain to work with.
Step 7: Ice the Cake
Now that the cake and icing are all chilled out, its time to ice it. When you first take the cake out of the freezer, you need to take it out of the pan. Do this by unlocking the sides as before. If you have a couple cake rounds (large cardboard discs), use them. If not, you can just use 2 plates to take the cake off of the bottom of the pan. Because the cake part of the cake is frozen solid, you can invert it without harm. Put one plate or cake round on the top and flip it over. The bottom should peel away easily. Then just put the second cake round or plate on the bottom, and invert again. The crust should be on the bottom, and the blue cake on top now.
I also recommend putting a few pieces of was or parchment paper underneath the crust to catch any spills from the frosting. If you dont do this, you can just slide the iced cake onto another cake round or plate, like I did. Now, using a spatula, take several large dollops of the whipped cream frosting and plop it on top of the cake (about 1/3 of the frosting). Spread it down the sides, amking sure its even all the way around. Make it thick enough that you cant see the ice cream or cake through it. Smooth the sides and top out as best as you can (it doesnt have to be perfect), and put it back in the freezer and the whipped cream in the fridge to stiffen up again.
When icing it the first time, make sure to work quickly, because both the ice cream and the frosting will get soft pretty quickly.
After it hardens, you will want to frost the sides a second time. Once again, put a fair amount on the sides, so that you have something to work with when smoothing it. Don't frost the top this time, though, since we'll be working on that next. Once the sides are done with the second coating, smooth them to the best of your abilities. I smoothed them fairly well by going over the seams lightly several times with the edge of my spatula, until there weren't any major lines showing on the sides. And once again, when done, put it in the freezer to harden.
Step 8: Making the Flag
For the top, I wanted a nice, smooth, bright white base for the flag to be put on, so I used Cool Whip. yep, thats it, nothing special. I just softened it, put it in a bowl, and stirred it to get it to a spreadable consistency. Then I just dollopped most of it onto the top, and smoothed it to the edges. With this part, try to get it as smooth as possible, since it will be the part thats showing the most.
Now, the flag should be added before its frozen, while its still soft. What I did was just cut a piece of paper into a rough template (for lack of a better word), and I used red and blue decorator sugars, a little less than a quarter cup each.
I recommend using my pictures as a better guide for this part.
Cut a corner out of a piece of printer paper (to make the template for the blue part), and then cut the rest of the paper into 3/4 - 1 inch strips, for the stripes. Just lay the corner down so that the bottom-right corner is near the center (you can just eyeball it). The line the strips next to and underneath it, making sure they go all the way to the edges of the cake. Cut some little pieces to extend them, if needed (like I did). Now just sprinkle the red sugar over the exposed areas, and press down a little to make sure they stick to the frosting. Remove the paper, and admire your handiwork so far.
For the blue area, I just lined up two strips of paper perpendicularly (is that a word?) as I did, and sprinkle the blue sugars on. Once again, remove the paper, and you have basically finished the cake.
*NOTE: when removing the papers, make sure to do it so that the excess sugars fall into the approved areas. If they get into the white, thats ok. You can just go back over that with some more icing after its frozen again.
Step 9: Finishing Touches
Now honestly, this step is completely optional. I realized just now that my cake looked just fine as it was. So doing this is up to you.
Here's where we do some piping. This is to make the borders and stars.
You can use whatever method you like to pipe, I just happened to have a Wilson Dessert Decorator (basically a plastic piping bag on steroids) that had a small circle tip and a star tip. I used the circle tip to make the stars (and pulled them into points with a toothpick), and Used the star tip to make the bottom and top borders. The bottom border is Just a line going around the base, while the top border is a zig-zag, going from the top to the sides and back the top, in a zig-zag pattern. When I did this, I used the rest of the whipped cream frosting from earlier. It had gotten really soft, so it ran a little before I could freeze it. It gave it a very interesting saggy pattern that I honestly kinda like. However, I recommend using buttercream frosting for this piping part. It sets up better than whipped cream.
This picture is after it has been frozen, and is the final look of the cake before tomorrow.
Step 10: Finished!
Now is the time to just sit and admire your work. This is the first time Ive ever actually done an ice cream cake, and it wasnt too bad doing it. It was fairly easy, in fact.
After the party tomorrow, Ill upload some pics of the cake being cut into. If anyone actually decides to try this (or use this method to make a cake of their own), upload your pics! Id be interested in seeing how you do making an ice cream cake.
(P.S. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!)