Brownies and Ice Cream With a Twist

A last minute dessert turns into the best ice cream cake ever.

ice cream cake

It’s usually my responsibility to bring a dessert to family dinners. Often, I wait until the last minute to decide, since it depends on my mood. Do I want to go all out? Or keep it simple. Am I in a baking mood? Pie or cake or cobbler. Intricate, which may mean shopping for ingredients, or using whatever’s in the pantry. Who’s going to be at dinner? Who likes what? For my nephew, Jason, it’s not dessert if it’s not chocolate. If we’re going to be at my sister Judy and bro-in-law Jon’s, it means nothing frozen like ice cream cake. Their freezers are always jammed. But once I forgot.

It had gone completely out of my head that the day was D-Day. “Dinner Day” had just sorta crept up on me. I had about two hours to come up with dessert for 10. (Bringing a commercial dessert is verboten.)

I raided my own kitchen, flinging open cabinet doors and drawers. Checked the freezer for pie shells, but had nothing interesting to fill them with. Saw two half-gallons of ice cream, chocolate and dulce de leche. Aha! Time to make an ice cream cake, but no time to bake the cake. Hmmm … definitely time enough for brownies and …

A box of Duncan Hines family size double chocolate brownies from my “emergency” reserves would do the trick. It took no time to beat it up, spread it in a 9- by 13-inch glass pan, and get it into the oven. While it baked, I softened the ice creams and set out other ingredients I thought I might use.

When the brownies came out of the oven, I put the pan on a cooling rack and sprinkled the top with chocolate chips. As they melted, I used a small spatula to spread them like icing, edge to edge. Once cooled, I spread a thick layer of chocolate ice cream over the surface and set the pan in the freezer to refreeze the ice cream. Meanwhile, I put a large jar of caramel sauce in the microwave, just enough to loosen it up, but not to let it get warm.

ice cream cake

As soon as the first ice cream layer was firm enough. I poured the caramel sauce over the top and spread it out evenly. Over the sauce went tho soft dulce de leche ice cream, letting streaks of the caramel surface as I pressed the layers together, then popped it back into the freezer.

I debated about how to decorate the surface, rummaging through drawers until I found a bag of toffee that made the decision easy. (Candy bars, mini chocolate or butterscotch chips, or nuts would be good alternatives, too.) I used a heavy rolling pin to bash the toffee into bits, sprinkled it over the surface of my Brownie Ice Cream Duo Cake—et voila!

With no space in Judy’s freezer, how did I keep it from melting during dinner? Easy! I filled a cooler with freezer packs, carefully set the pan, wrapped tightly in heavy-duty foil, on top of them, then inverted a flat sheet pan over the cake, leaving enough space for a final layer of frozen packs. (If it had been winter, I’d have just left it in the car.)

Hey, all it take is a little ingenuity, imagination and a few handy ingredients. If you can plan ahead of time, you can come up with your own combination of ingredients. It easily becomes a very special birthday cake if you personalize it with a name on top. This was the best ice cream cake we ever ate.

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Joan Bernstein lives in Manorville on land that has belonged to her family for over 100 years, but she grew up on the water in Center Moriches. As a youngster, clamming, crabbing off the dock, snapper fishing and power boating kept her busy when she didn't have her nose in a book. She has bred pedigree Tonkinese cats for the past 40 years. "Eat locally" is her byword whether she's at home or in Russia.