Homemade Ice Cream Cake

The family was going to get together to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and her Grandmother, as always, volunteered to purchase an ice cream cake from so as to not get sued please insert national chain of your choice here.  I find most commercial ice cream cakes to be pretty mediocre.  The ice cream is either rock hard or a melting flavorless mess and the quality of the cake and icing are worse than mediocre.  Then to top it all off the price that they charge is way way too high.

This year I put my foot down and said that I would make the cake.  So as to keep peace in the house and appear to be the “compassionate” father, I consulted with my daughter about what she wanted in an ice cream cake.  She explained, in the tone and manner that only 16 year old girls seem to have mastered, that birthday cakes MUST have chocolate cake and chocolate icing.  Her favorite ice cream flavor is Moose Tracks so that MUST be incorporated into the cake.  Now that I have been given my marching orders it is off to the kitchen.

Whenever I am confronted with making a classic type of dish I go to consult a stack of “old fashioned” classic cookbooks that have been either handed down or collected over the years.  For a chocolate cake that would stand up to being make into an ice cream cake my first choice is an old ring-bound promotional cookbook from Hershey’s.  This is the Hershey’s book that my Mother received at the end of a tour of the Hershey’s factory (back when they gave real factory tours not the crappy Disney style ride they use today) in Lancaster, PA during the summer of 1969.  The rest of the world was at Woodstock while I was with my family touring a chocolate factory.  To paraphrase Jerry Garcia, what a strange, strange trip it’s been.

The Hershey’s book did have a recipe for ice cream cake but it called for using a buttercream frosting.  I thought about it for a while and decided to use a chocolate ganache to coat the cake layers.  By using a ganche I solved two issues:  1) a 16 year old wants a more “mature” type of cake and ganache is more “mature” than buttercream and 2) the ganache would serve as insulation so if the ice cream started to melt it would not turn the cake into a mushy mess but it would retain it’s cakey texture.

Printable recipe

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

Inspired by a recipe from a Hershey’s promotional cookbook


2 cups sugar

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cups cocoa

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs – at room temperature

1 cup milk

½ cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray and line 2 9” round cake pans.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients.
  3.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium until well combined. About 2 minutes.
  4.  Stir in the boiling water till smooth.  Batter will be very thin.
  5.  Pour into prepared pans and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6.  Cool in cake pans about 15 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.

 Ice Cream Layer

  1.  Take a 1.5 Qt container of ice cream, your choice of any flavor, out from the freezer and let soften on the counter for about 10 minutes.
  2.  Using the same size pan you used for the cake layers, cover the inside of the pan with plastic wrap.  Let the plastic hang over the ends of the pan.
  3.  Pack the ice cream into the lined pan and smooth the top.  Move the ice cream back to the freezer to harden for at least an hour.


  1.  1 c. heavy cream
  2.  2 Tbsp. butter
  3.  2 Tbsp. sugar
  4.  12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces

Place heavy cream, butter and sugar into a saucepan. Stir frequently and bring the mixture to a boil.

Place the chocolate pieces in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for about 5 minutes so as to allow the chocolate to melt. Mix thoroughly, making sure all the pieces of chocolate are combined.  Let cool to room temperature.

To Assemble

  1. Pour the ganache over the two cake layers.  Coat the entire top and sides of each layer.  Let the cake layers set up by chilling in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. When the cake layers have set up (the ganache has become stiff) remove the cake from the refrigerator and the ice cream from the freezer.
  3. On a serving platter or a cardboard cake round place a layer of cake, then top with the ice cream, then finish with the remaining cake layer.
  4. Place cake back in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

 Remove cake from freezer 10-15 minutes prior to serving.

Yield 12-16 slices.