All chocolate, all the time: Brownie Ice Cream Cake

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Ah, summer.

Think berries. Fresh fruits of all kinds. Bounty from your garden. Lighter flavors, like lemon, vanilla, almond…

So, what’s this ridiculously chocolate ice cream fudge brownie cake doing here?Well, chocolate’s always in season. And the mantra for so many of us is, you can never have too much chocolate. So with ice cream season already in full swing, I figured it was time for one of the most successful birthday cakes I’ve ever made here at King Arthur:

Halley’s Fudge Brownie Ice Cream Cake.

Birthday parties are a regular feature of life in the King Arthur Web room. But this one attracted a larger crowd than usual.

Halley (center), our Web director, donned the birthday hat, blew out the candles, and carefully cut the cake – while her colleagues PATIENTLY waited. Trust me, no one was leaving till they got a piece of THE CAKE.

It’s a simple thing, really – brownies sandwiched around ice cream, topped with fudge sauce.

But simple as it is, for chocolate lovers, it’s a thing of beauty.

Yes, this cake is going to be messy.

The brownies are sticky and dense, the fudge sauce on top is warm, the ice cream starts to melt…

If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy a challenge; or someone who can’t live with drips, crumbs, and lava-flows, then please make something else.

But if you LOVE LOVE LOVE chocolate, and don’t mind the devil-may-care look of this ridiculously intense dessert – read on.

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First, since this is going to be a cake – not brownies – it’s best to line your 9” round cake pan with parchment. Grease the parchment, to be extra-safe; the last thing you want is a crumbled brownie-cake.

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Make our Guaranteed Fudge Brownies up to the point where you’re ready to pour it into the pan. Divide the batter between the two pans; each will hold about 25 1/2 ounces (if you’ve used the additional chocolate chips, as I did here; without chips, pour about 19 1/2 ounces batter into each pan).

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A scale makes it easy to evenly divide cake or brownie batter among multiple pans.

Bake the brownies for about 20 to 25 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven. When done, a cake tester or (clean) broom straw, inserted into the center, will come out almost clean; it should have wet crumbs clinging to it.

Brownie alert: It’s best to under-bake these brownies, as you want them to be as soft as possible when you cut the cake. So long as you don’t see any totally wet batter when you poke a knife into the center and peek – they’re done.

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Remove the pans from the oven, and run a flat spatula or table knife around the edge, to loosen the sides.

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After about 10 minutes, turn the brownies out of the pan onto a rack. Peel off the parchment, if you like; or just leave it till you’re ready to assemble the cake.

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While the brownies are cooling, get your ice cream ready.

Line an 8” round pan with parchment. You’ll see why shortly.

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Press about 1 quart of slightly softened ice cream into the pan. Our homemade Mocha Madness is a great match for brownies.

Ice cream alert: In general, the more air ice cream has pumped into it, the more quickly it’ll melt, the harder it’ll be to deal with in this cake. If you use store-bought ice cream, try to use one that’s denser/heavier than most, e.g., a quality Ben & Jerry’s-type ice cream.

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Here’s what happened when I didn’t line the pan with parchment, and tried to flip the ice cream out. WHOOOOOOPS.

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Cover the pan, and place it in the freezer for the ice cream to firm up. Leave the ice cream in the freezer till just before you’re going to serve the cake.

So, why bother to take this extra step of pressing ice cream into a pan? Why not just scoop ice cream onto the brownies before serving?

Because this gives you a nice, round layer. And you don’t have to waste time time hacking at hard ice cream trying to spread it evenly atop a brownie.

Next step: get ready to party!

This cake should be assembled right before you serve it.

Why not simply put it together and leave it in the freezer till you’re ready? Because the brownies will freeze rock-solid.

First, let’s make the fudge sauce.

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Put the following in a microwave-safe bowl (or saucepan):

1 ½ cups chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon espresso powder

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Add 1/3 cup heavy cream.

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Heat till the cream is bubbly. Remove from the microwave.

Yes, you can do this on the stovetop using a saucepan. Heat on a medium-low burner till the cream is bubbly, stirring frequently.

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Stir to melt the chocolate and butter. At first you’ll think, “Uh-oh, what did I do wrong? This is a mess…”

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Just keep stirring – trust me, all will be well in the end.

These next steps need to be performed quickly. Please read and internalize the directions and photos before you start, OK? You’re working against the ticking clock of melting ice cream.

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Peel the parchment off both brownie layers.

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Place one layer on a plate.

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Remove the pan of ice cream from the freezer, and place it in a pan of hot water for maybe 20 to 30 seconds, JUST to loosen the edges.

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Turn the pan over onto the brownie layer. Remove the pan. So far, so good.

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Peel off the parchment.

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Voilá! Nice even round of ice cream, centered atop the brownie.

Why use an 8” round of ice cream on a 9” brownie? I figured it would melt a bit and flatten down. It did melt; but it didn’t really flatten much. Feel free to pack your ice cream into either an 8” or 9” round pan.

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Place the other brownie layer on top. Let the melting begin!

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Spread the fudge sauce on top.

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Slice and serve. Swoon.

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Ten minutes after sending out an email with this subject line, “Fudge brownie ice cream cake now melting in the test kitchen.”

Ephemeral. Ethereal. Earthquake-like in appearance.

And OH-so-tasty.

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Just couldn’t end on that TOTALLY messy note. Here’s one last look at the cake at its best – check out the chocolate chips in the brownies… And the crushed Oreos in the ice cream.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Jeanne

    How do I print this recipe?

    There’s no recipe for this one, Jeanne. Just technique, designed to be used with any brownie recipe plus your favorite ice cream. You can, however, print our favorite brownie recipe, and the Mocha Madness ice cream recipe. Here are the brownies; and here’s the ice cream. Hope this helps – PJH

    Reply
  2. Janey

    I don’t think I could even cut a cake like this without a meat cleaver. This is the sort of decadence that transforms a birthday party into a Roman bacchanalia. Well, if you do it right.

    By the way, that brownie recipe—using the Barry Callebaut semisweet chocolate and Belcolade chocolate chips and Mexican vanilla—got my company a new contract. No kidding! Our clients ask for them by name!)

    Awesome, Janey – glad we could help! PJH

    Reply
  3. Wei-Wei

    Putting ice cream in a cake pan to harden. Genius. I thought you were going to bake it at first! o.O

    Awesomely decadent! Seriously, brownie, ice cream, cake, fudge, icing, Oreos… so sinful but so goooood. XD

    Wei-Wei

    Sinful indeed… chocolate intemperance! Thanks for your kind words, Wei-Wei – PJH

    Reply
  4. Rosa

    OMG, what a devilish cake! It would be very successful at my place…. Those Brownies look sooooo chocolaty. Addictive!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    Reply
  5. Trisha

    Yum, that looks fantastic!!!! I just made ice cream cake last month, although I went the freeze in advance route. In case you are interested, I made this recipe using your double dutch cocoa and ice cream from a local creamery:
    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Peppermint-Ice-Cream-Candyland-Cake-240698
    (I didn’t make the candy brittle and just sealed the whole thing with frosting so that we had a canvas for decorations.)

    Well, that certainly looks like a great option for those who love that peppermint/chocolate combo, Trisha – thanks for sharing. PJH

    Reply
  6. Vanessa

    MMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I have only dreamed of something like this :)

    Well, wake up and start heating up that fudge sauce! :) PJH

    Reply
  7. kat b.

    I hope you are going to provide a printable recipe. I tried printing and ended up with 21 pages — stopped printing, to save a tree. sounds so good, and I would like to make this for my nephews.

    Kat, so sorry! There’s no printable recipe, aside from the brownies and ice cream, which you’ll find linked from the blog. This is simply technique: Make brownies in a round pan, fill with ice cream, top with fudge sauce. So, do print the brownies, at least, and ice cream if you want: go to the recipes (linked from the blog), check “printable version,” and you’ll get a nice 1-page printout. PJH

    Reply
  8. Bridgid

    Ok, that’s it! I’m leaving New York to come to work for you guys! Which means I’ll be working for myself? It doesn’t matter, I need to be in a place where it is EXPECTED to test the goods, and in this case, well….how can one go wrong? Sign me up!

    Bridgid, we’re hiring… :) PJH

    Reply
  9. Marsha

    A trick that I have found useful in keeping home made ice cream scoopable after being in the freezer for a while is when mixing, add 2 tablespoons powdered milk and 2 tablespoons vodka before placing the mixture in the churn. This amount is for the 1 1/2 quart electric freezer. I usually have success with this method. When I make ice cream it stays around a while as I live alone and don’t have anyone to share with.

    Wow, Marsha, never heard of that – definitely going to try it next time. Thanks! PJH

    Reply
  10. Emily

    Delicious! Need some of that right now! Will have to experiment at home tonight! Thanks for the photos to drool over – your site is brilliant!

    Reply
  11. Jen

    I have made something similar before – baked the brownie batter between two 9 inch pans. Then when I assemble I place one brownie layer in the botton of a 9 inch springform pan, spread the ice cream layer on top (sprinkle with fudge or candies, etc), then place the second brownie layer on top of that. Stick the whole thing in the freezer to harden. And then just take it out to thaw a few minutes before it’s ready to serve. That method works well and would skip the step of freezing the ice cream layer individually!

    Reply
  12. Kate

    I think I might be one of the only people on the planet who doesn’t like the combination of chocolate and coffee! Could I leave the espresso powder out of the sauce without messing it up?
    Yes leave the expresso powder out-you want it to taste good to you. JMD @ KAF

    Reply
  13. Ariana from Chicago

    I love almost everything about this recipe. I am not a big fan of “assembling before serving” though…..Would a brownie recipe with oil as an ingredient work, so that the cake can be assembled and frozen ahead of time? I read that somewhere that the oil helps to prevent the cake from being too hard.

    Ariana, it makes sense that a brownie with oil wouldn’t freeze quite as hard. But, since I’ve never tried it myself, can’t say for sure just how hard it would be. Let us know how it goes – PJH

    Reply
  14. Emily

    A trick that I have found useful in keeping home made ice cream scoopable after being in the freezer for a while is when mixing, add 2 tablespoons powdered milk and 2 tablespoons vodka before placing the mixture in the churn. This amount is for the 1 1/2 quart electric freezer. I usually have success with this method. When I make ice cream it stays around a while as I live alone and don’t have anyone to share with.

    Wow, Marsha, never heard of that – definitely going to try it next time. Thanks! PJH

    Reply
  15. Michelle

    For someone who doesn’t love chocolate quite so much (not me!), what would be a good substitute for the brownie layers? I’m thinking a light cake wouldn’t work well, but would a pound cake recipe work? Or maybe I’ll just try his favorite blondie recipe.
    The cake might get a bit soggy under the ice cream but it would certainly taste delicious! A blondie recipe would also work well. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  16. Chantell

    I 2nd the use of a 9″ springform for the ice cream: Black Bing Cherry ice cream. I am making this for my child’s birthday next week! Thank you for the idea- it looks sublime!

    Reply
  17. Kathy Kaufman

    WOW! You made my day; I could almost taste its goodness. Obviously I am a chocoholic. Thanks for the brownie recipe; I am going to try it tomorrow. Thanks for all the goodies that you present to us!!

    Reply
  18. Leslie

    Thank you for pointing out the brownie and ice cream recipe. I’ve loaded them both in my KAF recipe box, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to get the fudge sauce in there, I can’t find a recipe for that. Is it possible to put that in recipe form?
    We have a very nice and very delicious fudge sauce already posted. Hot Fudge Sauce JMD@KAF

    Reply
  19. Melissa Foderaro

    I’ve been making this brownie cake for some time now and I find that putting a half gallon of ice cream in my stand mixer and whipping it till smooth and then layering the cake is easier.
    Another great idea. I LOVE our bakers community! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. Peggy

    I’d like a slice now! I made a similar style ice cream cake for my daughter’s birthday with marble cake. For the ice cream layer I put plastic wrap in the pan, pressed the softened ice cream in, wrapped it with the overhanging plastic and froze it. When it was time to assemble I pulled the ice cream out with the plastic wrap. No hot water bath required!
    Awesome idea Peggy, thanks for sharing!~ MaryJane

    Reply
  21. Tracey

    This looks fantastic! Have you ever made it with a blondie recipe? If I wanted to experiment, which blondie recipe would you recommend? Thanks!
    This one is a nice one. Blondie Bars JMD@KAF

    Reply
  22. Sue E. Conrad

    YOU’RE HIRING??!!? Hm-m-m-m, wonder if stowing away at KAF after our annual pilgrimage would get me to the front of the line!!!! Unfortunately, MY commute would be longer than Bridgid’s – St. Pete, FL versus NYC…………….and good luck with getting my hot-weather-loving husband to agree!! Ah-h-h, sure sounds like every baker’s dream.

    Reply
  23. Fay

    Here’s the recipe (extracted from the blog) for the Chocolate Fudge sauce:

    Chocolate Ganache Sauce
    1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
    2 tbsp butter
    1 tsp expresso powder
    1/3 cup heavy cream

    Place chocolate chips, butter and expresso powder in microwave-safe bowl; add heavy cream. Heat in microwave at full power, stirring at one minute intervals until cream is bubbly. Remove from microwave; stir to melt chocolate and butter. Spread while warm atop assembled cake.

    Reply
  24. Ann

    I just made this for my daughter’s birthday today. We called in our neighbors to help eat it, and everyone was happy!

    Thanks for posting really detailed directions for baking and construction. It made it easy.

    Yum!

    Reply
  25. Robert

    Can you share a coffee/espresso alternative with me. I don’t consume coffee products but would LOVE to try this recipe.

    Just leave it out, Robert – it’s strictly for flavor. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  26. Shon

    This is an awesome recipe! Another trick for the ice cream is to put the plastic bag as a liner into the pan, form the softened ice cream into the pan, cover and freeze. Then you can remove the ice cream, peel off the plastic and there’s no need to place the pan into warm water. Works great! Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe. It’s truly a keeper!

    Thanks for the tip, Shon – I’ll remember that! PJH

    Reply
  27. Robert

    What would happen if I used a Pastry flour or even Occident flour in the brownie recipe instead of all-purpose?
    The brownie needs the structure from the higher protein flour to hold together, it might be a bit too tender and crumbly with pastry or other flours. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  28. Joyce

    Hi! I plan to make this tonight. I use to make this years ago when the kids were young. For the freezing of the ice cream…use a springform pan if you have one.

    Reply
  29. Sarah

    I made this cake this weekend. So easy and it came out looking perfect and tasting pretty darn good too! I’m a huge fan of brownies, ice cream and hot fudge, but this was almost too heavy on the brownies and I’m pondering how to add more ice cream into the mix. Maybe I should just serve with whip cream next time!

    I’m also tempted by the suggestion in the comments to try blondies or even one layer of brownies and one layer of blondies.

    Reply
  30. ej4

    Good in concept, but this one didn’t hit home for us. It will still get eaten, but I’d definitely agree w/ Sarah – brownie to ice cream proportions were too heavy on the brownie for us. I’d consider making it again w/ half the brownies (two thin layers maybe??).

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      It looks absolutely delicious – chocolate cake and ice cream, what’s not to love, right? As you say, no need to worry or fuss as any cracks in the cake are easily overlooked, esp. after the application of hot fudge sauce. Thanks very much for sharing here – PJH

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