This is more of a building project than a cooking project. A building project where you eat about 600 calories worth of bricks and mortar. You have to fuel the hard work, right? It’s just that soft, melty ice cream is one of the most tempting things in the world to me. But it’s worth saving some of the ingredients for the actual cake. Because slicing into a piece is really festive and pretty. And the layers of crunch, fudge, and fruit, and ice cream taste so great together.
While I was making the cake and skimming off a little extra ice cream for myself here and there, this segment on the science of pleasure came on NPR. It explained that the combination of creaminess and crunchiness is highly pleasurable and addictive (they get into it about 25 minutes into the show, which, eerily, was exactly the time the first spoon of ice cream went into my mouth.)
Note: The times needed to firm and soften the ice cream will vary from flavor to flavor and brand to brand – adjust accordingly.
Preparation time: about 5 hours (including freezing time), 40 minutes active time
1 pint each of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry ice creams. (You will probably will just need 1 ½ cups of each, but if you’re like me, you might find that the whole pint seems to disappear during preparation.)
1/3 cup crushed amaretti cookies (about 7 cookies) View this photo
¼ slivered almonds, toasted and cooled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Fudge: (adapted from Alice Medrich’s hot fudge recipe in her book, Bittersweet)
6 ounces chocolate (with 60% cacao content), chopped (or chocolate chips – I like Ghiradelli bittersweet chips)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup strawberry jam, thinned out with a teaspoon of water if too thick to easily spread into a thin layer.
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Sprinkles, shaved chocolate, or toasted nuts
- Line the bottom and sides of a bread loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang to make ease the removal of the finished cake.
- Prepare amaretti crust. Process amaretti ingredients together in a food processor until well-ground and thoroughly combined.
- Spread the amaretti mixture into the bottom of the pan, creating an even layer that reaches into the corners and edges. Place in the freezer until crust is firm, about 30 minutes.
- While crust is firming, transfer vanilla ice cream to refrigerator so that it can soften.
- Spread about 1 ½ cups of vanilla ice cream evenly over the bottom layer of amaretti and nuts. You should have a ½-thick layer of ice cream. Freeze for 30 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, prepare the fudge: Set up a double boiler just touching a pot of barely simmering water. Combine fudge ingredients in the double boiler, stirring until melted. Continue stirring occasionally until fudge is hot and silky smooth, but not boiling (about 160°F if you have a thermometer). Remove from heat, set aside and cool slightly, for about 5 minutes.
- Take pan out of freezer. Since the fudge is still pretty warm and can turn the vanilla ice cream to mush, you’ll need to work quickly and decisively. Drizzle the fudge in ribbons over the ice cream, distributing it as evenly as possible. You can even out the surface of the fudge with a small offset spatula, but try not to disturb the ice cream, which is already beginning to melt. Move pan to freezer and transfer chocolate ice cream to the refrigerator to soften for 30 minutes.
- Spread chocolate ice cream over hot fudge layer. Freeze for 30 minutes.
- Spread strawberry jam in an even layer over chocolate ice cream. Allow jam to firm up in freezer and strawberry ice cream to soften in the fridge.
- Spread strawberry ice cream over strawberry jam layer. Place in freezer to firm up.
- To remove cake from pan, briefly run hot water around the pan, making sure not to splash any water directly on the cake. Or, place the cake pan in a large pan of hot water for a minute or so. Pull up the plastic wrap and lift cake out. Transfer on to a serving platter.
- Prepare whipped cream. Put cream, sugar, and vanilla in a small, deep mixing bowl. Whip until slightly firm peaks form. Use a pastry tube with a flower tip to form 8 rows of flowers across the top of the cake. Add sprinkles or other garnish, if desired. If freezing the leftover cake or if you prefer to prepare the whole thing in advance, the whipped cream tastes good frozen, too.