Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentine's Day Dessert - Ice Cream Cake

As I prepared to write this blog post, I was faced with a pressing question:

What is the best possible thing to make for Valentine's Day?

The answer is - without a doubt:

Next Sunday is Valentine's Day and my sweetie and I will probably try to squeeze in a quick dinner out somewhere nearby. Next weekend promises to be a busy one, so we'll have to take a pass on long, lingering gazes over candlelight and opt instead for a quick meal at one of our favorite local places. Add a glass of red wine to the mix and I'll be content.

But if we were hosting a party, or if all three of our daughters were home for the big day, I'd be sure to prepare something festive, sweet, and - most likely - pink.

As it happened, all three of our daughters *were* home this past weekend. Although we hadn't expected a full house, we were nonetheless delighted to hang out as a family. Lucky me and lucky them -- I had a dessert to prepare for this blog. And so I adapted one of their all-time favorites for Valentine's Day.

When the girls were little, none of them liked traditional bakery cakes. They still don't. Ice cream cakes from Baskin Robbins, however, were (and are) universally loved around here, but they can be expensive. Back when the kids were little, I decided to make my own ice cream cakes. I experimented with box cakes but found the consistency of the cake part too weak to hold up the ice cream. So I changed to brownies. I prefer Betty Crocker and I always add an extra egg (to make it a bit more fluffy and less gooey).

For the girls' birthdays we always used Chocolate Chip Mint (which they insist is properly termed Mint Chocolate Chip) but for Valentine's Day we needed something pink. None of us cares much for strawberry ice cream, so I searched high and low and finally found raspberry (not sherbet).

Here's my super easy, delicious and fit-for-a-crowd Ice Cream Cake

1 box Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies
1/2 gallon ice cream - your choice of flavor (some now come in 1.75 quarts. That's fine, too)
1 12 oz tub of Cool Whip Frozen Whipped Topping, thawed according to package directions (this takes several hours, so be sure to take this out of the freezer and relocate it to the fridge the day before, if possible)

Remove ice cream from freezer to allow it to soften/melt a bit.
Prepare brownies according to package directions, adding a third egg if desired for a more cake-like consistency. Bake in a 9 x 13 pan, again according to package directions.
Allow brownies to cool for about a half hour, then pour softened/melted ice cream on top of brownies. Spread it out and smooth. Cover with foil and freeze until the ice cream solidifies (several hours).

Remove from freezer and spread the Cool Whip over the top. I don't always use the entire tub, but I use more than half, which is why I buy the 12 oz size.
Return to freezer.

The ice cream cake will be ready to be cut and served in an hour or two. Delicious and pretty, too!

author of Eggsecutive Orders, third in the White House Chef Mystery series

Don't forget Jenn's contest!

cupcakes? Love mysteries? Remember to enter your suggestion for the name of a fictional cupcake and have your name and cupcake written into the mystery novel BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF! (The sequel to SPRINKLE WITH MURDER, which just
received a *Starrred Review* fromPublishers Weekly!). Send proof of your pre-order of SPRINKLE WITH MURDER, along with your name and cupcake name to Jenn at jennmck@yahoo.com LET’S GET THE PARTY STARTED!
Julie here again...
Speaking of cupcake fun, my daughter and I were goofing around before the season opener of LOST last week. We made silly cupcakes.
We created islands, planes, smoke monsters, numbered cupcakes... you get the picture. Most were pretty amateurish, and not worthy of posting here (especially with a cupcake-master present) but my daughter did make one that I thought was particularly fun. It's the comic book character, Jughead. For those of you LOST fans -- get it?

LASTLY -- We've been awarded another blog award!
This one from Ingrid of The Conscious Cat

The Over the Top Blog Award

The rules state that we must complete the questions with one word answers! This is fun...

Your Hair? – Highlighted
Your Favorite Food? – Chocolate
Your Hobby? – Reading
Your Fear? – Pinecones
Something You Aren’t? – Athletic
Where Did You Grow Up? – Chicago
Your Life? – Wonderful
Your Mood? – Optimistic
Your Favorite Color? – Yellow


  1. I know what you mean about Valentine's Day reservations! My husband's birthday is Valentine's Day, and we almost never go out for dinner that night. He hates crowds too much. He also hates chocolate, so the whole day is really a wash.

    That doesn't mean I won't make that ice cream cake sometime in the future--it looks delicious!

  2. This looks SO easy, Julie. I'm going to have to try this one this week. The kids are likely to eat most of it. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. Wendy - I hear you about the crowds on Valentine's Day. We'll probably try to get out in that gray area between lunch and dinner when the crowds thin down a bit. If your husband hates chocolate, I'll bet you could adapt this cake - maybe a pound cake would make a good base. You could experiment!

    Elizabeth - it is so easy. I love making these because people ooh and ah like it's a big deal. We've added fudge in the middle sometimes, too, but we all prefer it just brownies and ice cream ;-)

  4. Love the cake, that could be used for so many holidays. And the cupcake is adorable. I have to ask, fear of pinecones?

  5. I love your one word answers! You certainly are optimistic and "sunny." Love the cake idea. A bombe without a lot of fuss. Egg-sellent!

  6. Mason - yep, pinecones. Weird, isn't it? But when I was very young and shopping for Christmas trees with my family, I used to pick up the pinecones that had dropped. I had my hands full once when my mom -- in an effort to provide a "teachable moment" -- said, "Do you know that pinecones are alive?" (meaning they were seeds, of course) I shrieked and dropped them. I even had nightmares about them after that. Nowadays I no longer panic when I see one, but I still do my best to avoid touching them ;-)

    Avery - thanks! LOL - Egg-sellent - Love it!
    Can't wait to see your answers, too!

  7. Julie, the Jughead cupcake is fantastic! Your daughter is an incredible artist. I don't think I could have brought myself to bite into such artwork!

    I had the same question Mason had about a fear of pinecones. Amazing how childhood fears stick with us.

    ~ Krista
    who lives where there are lots of pinecones!

  8. Thanks, Krista - I'll have to tell her. My youngest daughter created Jughead, and she'll be so thrilled to hear that. My eldest daughter is the real artist of the family, but I think this daughter is not too far behind ;-)
    I wish I could completely rid myself of the pinecone fear, but -- oh well -- our quirks make us interesting, right? ;-)

  9. No No No ... never eat out on Valentines Day... Much better to wait a few days, or a few days earlier. terrible service, busy, crowded, rushed...

    find a man who cooks

  10. Dave -
    Sigh... too late! My darling husband can manage eggs and bacon, but not much else. But, hmmm.... you've given me an idea. Maybe he'll consider cooking on Valentine's Day a challenge, and take it on! ;-)

  11. We've been doing Dairy Queen ice cream birthday cakes the last few years for my kids. Your homemade version sounds easy and delicious. Plus, they can pick out their favorite ice cream :)

  12. Janel - Dairy Queen sure has some great cakes, but again... expensive. I love being able to pick our own flavor and there's plenty for everybody to have seconds ;-)

  13. Great idea on the ice cream cakes, Julie. I too, prefer ice cream over cake, and this sounds like a delicious compromise.
    We're going to the nearest Applebee's for Valentine's, but we're going early (4'ish) so we don't have to wait for a table. This is a combination anniversary/Valentine's dinner for us, since Chris was unable to eat anything much on our anniversary due to his nasal surgery. By the 14th, he should be all healed, and I'm looking forward to my usual dessert at Applebee's, the maple blonde brownie!

  14. Hey, Shel - Happy Anniversary, a little bit late. You can also make it a triple event by celebrating Chris's successful surgery. It's so great to have faces to match names - thanks so much for coming out to DeKalb. That was great! Tell Chris his southsider friends say hi ;-)

  15. Brilliant idea to use the brownies for the base. My husband's birthday is in March and ice cream is one of his favorite foods (that and fudge, lol), so I am definitley going to give this a try! The pinecone story is priceless BTW and the jughead cupcake WOW - spot on!! I hope you and your Valentine have a great one.

    ~ Cleo

  16. I want some of that cake NOW!!! My goodness,
    it looks fabulous. LOVE your daughter's
    Jughead cupcake -- it's REALLY good.

  17. Thanks Cleo - enjoy making this and -- even more -- eating it! It's one of our favorites, for sure!

    Hey Jenn... coming from the cupcake master it means a lot! I'll let her know what you said.


  18. Thanks, Julie, I'll pass on the message to Chris. I had a blast meeting y'all; and hope to get together again at one of the events for the new series, or possibly if you'll be at the Printer's Row Lit Fest in June? Elizabeth Casey invited me to that one, so unless Chris has to work overtime that weekend, we're going to do our best to make it.

  19. I can't wait to try this ice cream cake. Guess what I'm taking to the next potluck at work! Your pinecones story was priceless. It reminds me of Jim's favorite lamb story. He was little having Sunday dinner at his snooty aunt's house, and when he said this is really good roast beef, Aunt Lou, she said, "That's not roast beef, Master James, that's Mary's little lamb." Shrieks, tears. But, today, Jim does eat and enjoy lamb. Could have traumatized the kid for life.

    Lesa - www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com

  20. Nothing wrong with simplicity with the results ar this good! YUM

  21. Perfect combo- brownies and ice cream. It really gets no better than that!