Ice cream cakes are one of the best summertime desserts out there. While a cold mousse or a simple strawberry tart might make the covers of food magazines, nothing lights up a gathering of hot, hungry people like a gorgeous ice cream cake – especially if there are kids involved. And, of course, I feel that a homemade cake is always better than an store bought one (especially considering that ice cream parlors are not necessarily known for the quality of their cake). When I outlined the process of making an ice cream cake the other day, it was a teaser for this recipe for the whole ice cream cake.
This cake uses mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate cake layers and topped with vanilla buttercream. In my book, it’s the best that ice cream cakes get. The green-tinted of the ice cream immediately lets guests know what flavor they’re in for and it looks quite nice set against the dark chocolate-colored cake.
I like this cake recipe for ice cream cakes because it is tender, has a good flavor, and stays very moist even after it has been frozen and refrozen repeatedly (since leftovers need to be kept in the freezer). I credit the cake’s excellent texture to the use of vegetable oil instead of butter. The chocolate/cocoa flavor of the cake is strong enough that you will never miss the “buttery” flavor of butter and vegetable oil does a much better job of preventing baked goods from drying out than butter does.
The frosting here is my real vanilla bean buttercream. The recipe makes just enough to put a thin layer all over the cake and it tastes wonderful with the chocolate and mint layers. It holds up quite well to freezing, too. When cold, it becomes quite firm, but like the ice cream layer, it becomes soft and easily sliced when the cake warms up even slightly.
This recipe makes a big cake – three 10×15-inch layers – so you might want to keep this fact in mind before you bake it. It is fantastic for parties, barbecues and pretty much any summer gathering where a freezer will be available for storage. If it’s too big, use my how to make an ice cream cake tutorial to make an ice cream layer for a smaller cake.
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake
Ice Cream Layer
2 gallons high-quality mint chocolate chip ice cream
Line a 10×15-inch jelly roll-type pan with plastic wrap. Lightly grease.
Soften ice cream until it is easy to scoop, then spread it into an even layer in the prepared pan.
Freeze for at least 6 hours, or until very firm.
Once it is firm, the pan can be removed and the layer can be stored in plastic wrap.
Chocolate Cake (make 2)
2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot water
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 10×15-inch jelly roll-type pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Leave some paper overhanging the edges of the pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined.
Pour hot water (not quite boiling) over batter and stir until smooth. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes, then use the parchment paper to transfer cake to a wire rack to cool completely. Do not remove parchment paper.
Repeat recipe to make a second cake.
2 cake layers
1 ice cream layer
1 recipe vanilla buttercream frosting
Place one cake layer on a large serving platter or cake board, using parchment paper to help move the cake without breaking it. Peel off parchment once cake is in place.
Top cake with ice cream layer and top ice cream layer with remaining cake layer.
Freeze for at least an hour, until firm and cold.
Meanwhile, make buttercream frosting.
Frost chilled cake with a thin layer of frosting and freeze until ready to serve.
Makes 1 cake. Serves about 30.
GidgetMay 16, 2008
Oh my gosh. That looks like heaven!!
SallyMay 16, 2008
Ha! What a tease! I’m making this for my son’s birthday party for sure. Thanks!
JenniferMay 16, 2008
That looks lovely. 🙂 And I like the “My Little Pony” plate. 😉
RecipeGirlMay 16, 2008
Yumm! Mint choc. chip is hubby’s favorite. Since this makes a huge one, it would be great for Memorial Day weekend!
NicMay 16, 2008
Looks wonderful. I think I’m going to try it for my 4th of July party this year. One question: How do you store a cake that size in the freezer? Do you have a larger Tupperware or just cover it with tin foil or what? That may be a dumb question, but I wasn’t sure what to do about that. Thanks!
NicoleMay 17, 2008
The cake doesn’t need to be covered in the freezer. The frosting (once set) makes a nice barrier to protect the cake, although once it has been cut and served, you can wrap the leftovers with some plastic wrap if you want to.
EmilineMay 18, 2008
Ohhh…this looks amazing. I’m going to try it. Our family loves mint-chocolate stuff.
Wheeler's Frozen DessertsMay 18, 2008
OOh that looks delicious … Mint + Chocolate is the best combo!
CakespyMay 18, 2008
This is a true work of art. In fact, I want to save it to use as reference the next time I do an acrylic painting! But of course, it also looks delicious. Mmmm.
Cap'n JackMay 19, 2008
AnnaMay 20, 2008
I was going to make a key lime pie for Memorial Day, but this looks so much better.
And hey, did you steal my plate!
NicoleMay 20, 2008
I did steal the plate, Anna. Sorry! Those my little ponies are just irresistible!
joelleJuly 12, 2008
Silly questions I have 1) can I do this with any cake such as from a box? and 2) after I move the cake in place how do I remove the parchment paper if its under the cake?
ElisabethJuly 17, 2008
I just discovered your site while hunting around for the perfect ice cream cake – I’m so glad I did! I used my own chocolate cake recipe, and made a smaller version in a 9-inch round pan…it was wonderful – everything I hoped my ice cream cake would be. 🙂 Thanks so much for this – I see lots of other recipes on here I can’t wait to try. I’ll be back often!
JulianJuly 21, 2009
this looks amazing. Iâ€™m going to try it.
I see lots of other recipes on here I canâ€™t wait to try. Iâ€™ll be back often!
irish chamber of commerceNovember 6, 2009
This is one wonderful and tasty cake.
KariAnnNovember 10, 2009
I made an ice cream cake (from another site) for my daughter’s birthday. Now my twins want one for their birthday. This one sounds great!! The only issue I have, or had with the other cake, was icing it. Do you have any tips on a better way to ice the area where the ice cream is so it actually stays on, instead of just smearing around and off the ice cream?? The previous cake was a boxed cake recipe and called for using 8 or 9″ by 2″ high round pans. Are the layers in your cake thinner? Maybe that makes the difference. Thanks!!
ChristinaDecember 6, 2009
This is the second time I’ve used this recipe for my cakes. I absolutely love it! Thank you so much! I love the chocolate cake b/c it’s perfect. Not too rich. The whole thing is amazing. I made the best ice cream cake, and now I’m making my mom’s birthday cake. Thanks a lot!
LauraSeptember 17, 2010
Ummm – I am in the middle of making this cake, and I was wondering about the ice-cream amount. The recipe calls for 2 gallons of ice cream . The cartons of ice-cream I bought said they each only held 1.5 quarts – so I bought 4 of them (making the total volume 1.5 gallons) thinking that I would be just a little short… But I could only fit two containers in my pan. So when you say gallons do you mean just two standard ice-cream containers? Or do I need to get a pan with higher sides, or just fill my pan to overflowing?
NicoleSeptember 17, 2010
Laura – It depends how much ice cream you want in the cake! I like to make this with a big thick layer of ice cream, but using less and making a thinner layer is definitely an option. So, I’d say either simply fill your pan up and use that thickness for the layer or pile the extra ice cream in and level the top off before chilling
MaryJune 15, 2011
I’m going to try this cake for my son’s birthday. I usually make my cakes the day of the occasion, but I’m considering making this the night before. Do you think that will be alright in terms of the cake keeping its flavor?
ConnorJuly 26, 2011
I made a version of this yesterday for my girlfriend’s birthday she LOVED it, thank you for sharing the recipe!
P.S. I got to write a guest post on Laura’s blog about it! Here is the link if you want to check it out:
RonnieSeptember 24, 2011
Also, instead of lining a pan with plastic wrap you can use a silicone baking pan and then just peel it off the ice cream once it sets. I do this all the time and it works great!
VanessaApril 21, 2013
Hi–this is a great recipe. I made the cake and it was delicious but I had trouble keeping the ice cream firm. I made the ice cream layer per instructions the night before, but when I removed it from the pan, it still felt a little soft. Do you think this had anything to do with the type of ice cream? It was a very good brand but now I wonder if the ingredients used made it softer? I checked my freezer setting and it was pretty high. In the end, a lot of the ice cream layer slid out and onto the sides of the cake rather than staying in the middle.
NicoleApril 22, 2013
The softness definitely has a lot to do with the type/brand of ice cream that you use, so you are right on about that. Some ice creams – usually because they have more air incorporated into them – are softer and easier to scoop. These ice creams will also stay softer after being frozen into a cake layer. Ice creams that are firmer to start out with produce a firmer layer – of course, this also means that they are a little harder to work with initially, since they take a little more time to soften when you want to form them into a layer.
I would switch ice cream brands next time, or just make a mental note when you buy a brand that is difficult to scoop straight out of the freezer, because that means it will be much easier to slice in a cake!
VanessaJune 30, 2013
Hi Nicole, I’ve been wanting to try your recipe since my failed attempt back in April. I decided to make it for a BBQ this wekend and carefully planned the logistics–including dry ice for transortation and making the ice cream layer almost a week ahead! The ice cream was very firm and gave me the chance to frost most of the cake before getting soft. I finished the cake last night and it turned out great. I’ve had trouble with the meringue frostings but that came out fine too. I’m very happy with the result and sure it’ll be a hit. Thank you!