Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ice cream thesis

For his birthday the man of the house requested ice cream cake. Now ice cream cake always makes me think of the heavily processed multi coloured cakes you get at a McDonald's party or the ever popular Coles 'party cake'. While I agree these cakes have their merits, such as sending small children into a sugar induced coma, I don't really think they add much class to an event and certainly don't say 'I love you sweetheart so I got you this scrumptious cake to show you how special you are to me'. Rather they seem to say something more along the lines of 'I forgot it was your birthday so I ducked out to Coles at the last minute and this is all they had.' Considering I was attempting to imbue a sentiment akin to the former message I decided a home made ice cream cake was in order.

Now let me tell you, dear readers, making an ice cream cake from scratch is not for the faint hearted. You need to allow yourself at least two days and be prepared to wash a phenomenal amount of dishes in no way proportionate to the size of the cake you will finally produce. But if you're prepared for this fasten your seat belts and read on.

Of course you can make the cake ahead of time as it is going to be frozen which will make your life easier. I chose to begin my cake the night before I needed it because sometimes I am well… stupid. If you want to make your life even easier and are prepared to completely cheat you can always buy a punet of ice cream and just assemble the cake. This will avoid most of the dishes but I tend to think this defeats the purpose of making a cake rather than buying one.

The cake I made is primarily composed of mint ice-cream made with home grown mint from our garden and rippled with dark chocolate. The recipe is from David Lebovitz's book 'The Perfect Scoop' (this book rocks and is pretty much the bible if you want to make home made ice cream). The cake has a chocolate cookie base and is topped with dark chocolate ganache.

Preparing the Tin

I used a 6 inch tin because I think small cakes are cute. You could make a bigger cake but just make double the amount of ice-cream (maybe two flavours layered would be nice). I would probably recommend using a spring form tin or at the very least a tin with a base that is removable. If you are daring/insane it is possible to make with a regular cake tin - it just requires a bit more preparation, some prayer and a probable spatter of expletives as you finally attempt to unmould the cake. Whatever the tin you will need to line the entirety (base and sides) with baking paper. If you are using a standard tin I would also recommend inserting a cardboard base below the paper and another long strip of cardboard underneath everything and folded upwards so it protrudes above the sides of the tin. This will give you something to grip and pull on when the time comes to get your baby out of the tin.

The Base

Crush 100g choc ripple biscuits into crumbs. you could do this in the food processor or (my method of choice) just pop them in a zip lock bag and pound them with a rolling pin. Pour 40g melted butter over the crumbs and mix until moist. Pat the crumbs into the base of your lined tin. Cover the base directly with glad wrap and put in the freezer for at least one hour.

The ice cream - Fresh Mint Ice cream from 'The Perfect Scoop'

This makes approx. 1 litre ice-cream

1 cup whole milk

150g sugar

2 cups heavy cream

Pinch of salt

80g fresh mint leaves (this is HEAPS - a perfect way to use up an overgrown mint plant)

5 large egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar and 1 cup of the cream and salt in a small saucepan. Add the mint leaves and stir until they're immersed in the liquid. Cover, remove from the heat and let steep at room temperature for an hour.

Strain the mint-infused mixture through a mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Press on the mint leaves to extract as much flavour as possible, then discard the leaves. David (can I call you David or should I stick to Mr Lebovitz?) says the milk will be a lovely shade of emerald. Mine certainly wasn't even close to a colour I would describe as emerald… a slightly yellowy/green pus colour maybe? The flavour was definitely there though so I wouldn't worry too much.

Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and put the strainer on top.

Rewarm the mint-infused mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mint liquid into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, the scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over a medium heat, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge (overnight) and then freeze in your ice cream maker.

If you want to put chocolate through it, simply pour 100g of melted chocolate in a very slow drizzle into the ice cream machine during the last 5 minutes of churning. Be careful not to pour it onto the mixing blade. It hardens and shreds into chips as it stirs.

Add the ice-cream to the tin (obviously take the plastic off the base first), cover directly with another layer of plastic wrap (try to smooth out any air bubbles) and freeze for at least two hours.

The Ganache

Melt 100g of dark chocolate with 100g of heavy cream over a double boiler stirring constantly until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature then pour onto the ice cream layer of the cake. Put a layer of plastic wrap directly onto the ganache and freeze for at least another two hours.

Unmould and serve!


  1. Looks divine and bet it tasted incredible. Lucky man of the house! I am in awe having never attempted ice-cream. I have bad memories of something Mum made involving evaporated milk - lots of ice crystals - not the best.

  2. I'm impressed - you made your own icecream! I hope the man of the house was very appreciative!