Semi-Homemade Five Layer Ice Cream Cake

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I hardly ever turn the television on before 8 p.m.  When I am home by myself during the day, I really appreciate the dead silence, especially when I am working on my computer.  I like to hear the roar of the refrigerator and the clink of the ice dropping into the ice bin in the freezer.  There is enough craziness going on in my head that I really don’t need television or even radio to distract me.  However, occasionally if I am cleaning or cooking, I’ll flip the TV on.  I’m sure we can all agree that daytime TV is down right lousy and even depressing if you ask me (Soap Operas…seriously?).  I usually go right to Food Network or the Cooking Channel and catch Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa or Sandra Lee.  Sandra Lee has always intrigued me because she offers such a realistic guide to cooking great food.  I love the name of her show which is essentially her culinary point of view;  it’s called “Semi-Homemade Cooking.”  She whips up a lovely meal and usually a specialty drink with fresh ingredients combined with specially selected store-bought ingredients to create a unique, seemingly “from-scratch” meal.  Really, it’s the way most of us cook anyway, right?  I feel like her show validates this strategy!  So as an ode to the idea of “semi-homemade cooking” I convinced myself that this ice cream cake, however easy and reliant on store-bought products, is worth sharing!

IMG_3797We celebrated my husband’s birthday this past week.  He’s not a big sweets guy but he’s come to love the homemade ice cream cakes that the girls and I come up with each year for his birthday (he’s a sucker for ice cream).  Usually I buy an Oreo pie crust and fill it with some type of candy filled ice cream — voila, an ice cream cake!  But this year I thought I’d be a bit more creative and try to layer brownies between the ice cream.  I was making this up as I went but I must admit, it turned out great!  Give yourself plenty of time to make this cake (or bake the brownies the day before).  I didn’t let my brownies cool long enough and some of my vanilla ice cream layer melted into the brownie. Still, it was a lovely indulgent birthday treat and I’d make it again in a second!

Semi-Homemade Five Layer Ice Cream Cake (Serves 10-12)

1 pkg brownie mix (preferably Ghirardelli — and ingredients needed to bake the brownies such as eggs, oil etc.)

pinch of kosher salt

1 gallon of vanilla ice cream

1 gallon of coffee ice cream (choose whatever ice cream flavors you like but something a little savory helps cut the richness)

1 container cool whip (get regular or extra creamy)

chocolate syrup or hot fudge or click here for an easy chocolate ganache recipe

optional:  crushed candies or cookies on top (i.e. Oreos, M & Ms, Reese Pieces, Butterfingers etc.)


Prepare brownies as directed but add a pinch of kosher salt to the mix (salt helps break up the sweetness).  Pour into an 8 in round cake pan lined with parchment paper (trace the bottom of the pan and cut to fit).  Also spray sides of pan with cooking spray.  Bake brownies as directed.  After a few minutes, flip the cake pan over and remove the brownies from the pan.  Let brownies cool for at least an hour.  Take ice cream and cool whip out of freezer about 10-15 minutes before you are ready to use it.  Carefully slice brownies horizontally so you have two thin layers.  Assemble the ice cream cake in a 8 inch round pan but make sure it is pretty deep (like a spring form pan).  Layer as follows: one layer of brownie, one layer vanilla ice cream (I usually use 1/2 of each gallon of ice cream), one layer of brownie, one layer of coffee ice cream, one layer of cool whip (use entire container).  Drizzle chocolate syrup or ganache on top of the cool whip and use a knife or toothpick to swirl it through the cool whip.  Add crushed candies and cookies if desire and freeze for at least 1 hour before serving.