High Country Baking: Ice cream cake is a perfect summer dessert and is easy to make ahead of time
High Country Baking
Editor’s note: High altitudes make cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Coffee, toffee and chocolate: three of America’s favorite tastes. Combine them in an ice cream cake, and you’ve got a winner. It’s simple to make, and it can wait in the freezer for four days before serving … a perfect summer dessert.
I use Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers for this recipe. The fastest way to grind them is in a food processor. Don’t have one? Break them up, put the pieces in a plastic bag , close the bag, and crush them with a rolling pin or heavy pot. Chop the toffee bars the same way. Ben and Jerry’s makes several highly flavored coffee ice creams: I usually pick one of theirs for this recipe.
While the cake requires little active time, it must be frozen between steps, so make it at least two days before serving.
Classic Summer Ice Cream Cake
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Make in an 8-inch springform pan
Base and Filling
1 cup (about 5 ounces) finely ground chocolate wafer cookies
Generous ¼ (one fourth) teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
2-3 tablespoons, unsalted butter, melted
1 cup coarsely chopped chocolate-covered English toffee bars
1 (one) pint coffee ice cream
White Chocolate topping
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Generous ½ cup finely chopped real white chocolate
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Dark Chocolate Drizzle, optional
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1. Make base and filling: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the center. Generously grease the pan with butter. Blend the cookie crumbs and cinnamon (if using), add the smaller amount of melted butter and stir/pulse (if using food processor) until crumbs are completely and evenly moistened. Let mixture sit for a few minutes (to further absorb moisture). Squeeze some in your hand. It should just hold together; if it doesn’t add more melted butter, a little at a time, until it does. Take care, too much butter will make the base rock-hard and difficult to cut. Press the mixture into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until set and aromatic, about 8-10 minutes. Cool completely. At this point you can cover for up to a day.
2. Sprinkle half of the chopped toffee over the cooled crust; set the other half aside. Scoop the ice cream into a mixing bowl and quickly stir with an electric mixer on low speed or by hand until smooth. Spread it into an even layer over the toffee-lined crust, cover, and freeze until firm, at least five hours or overnight.
3. Make the white chocolate topping: Heat the cream and butter on stovetop or in microwave until th 0e butter melts and mixture simmers. Remove from heat, add the white chocolate and let sit while chocolate melts. Add vanilla; Stir until smooth and shiny. Cool until it thickens but is still pourable. Quickly pour over the top of the cold cake, tilting the pan so it covers it completely (if necessary, spread with an offset spatula). Freeze, covered, until topping firms up (it won’t get hard), at least 3 hours. Sprinkle remaining ½-cup of toffee over the topping; gently press it in. Freeze, covered. Serve within 4 days.
4. Make drizzle, if using: Heat cream until close to boiling, remove from heat and add chocolate, submerging it completely. Let mixture rest so chocolate melts and stir until smooth and shiny. If any of the chocolate isn’t fully melted, heat the mixture at a low temperature, stirring often, until the desired consistency is reached. Let mixture cool and thicken slightly, and then drizzle it decoratively over the filling.
5. Remove the cake from the pan a few hours before serving. Dip an offset spatula or knife in hot water, dry it and run it between the cake and the inside edge of the pan. Wet a kitchen towel with hot water and wipe around pan sides several times, unlock the pan, and carefully remove the sides. Smooth cake’s sides with an offset spatula. Place on a serving platter, cover and freeze. When ready to serve, slice with a thin, sharp-bladed knife dipped in warm water and dried between cuts.
Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards, Next Page Bookstore in Frisco and Breck Books in Breckenridge). Her recipes have been tested in her Frisco kitchen, where she’s lived since 1991, and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.