Ice cream cakes are a blank slate for the imagination, with layers of cake, ice creams, sauces, and add-ins in any flavor combination that appeals. (Some, such as CHOW's Pistachio-Strawberry Ice Cream Cake, use a crumb crust or simply crushed cookies instead of cake layers.)
Hounds recommend assembling ice cream cakes in a springform pan, so you can remove the sides and serve from the base without having to unmold. If you bake a cake to use, bake it in the springform pan, split it into layers if you wish, and use the same pan to assemble the cake.
It's ideal to start at least a day before you want to serve the cake, because each layer must be frozen before adding the next. Freeze the bottom cake layer, then spread with softened ice cream and top that with sauce and add-ins, freeze, and add more layers of cake and ice cream as you wish, freezing each before adding the next. Most hounds frost the top and sides with whipped cream right before serving.
Oil-based cakes work better than butter-based ones, which tend to be dry when frozen, says jsaimd. Crushed Oreos are popular for sprinkling between layers, because they don't get too soft. Crushed Heath bars are another favorite addition. Or go another direction and add fruit between layers.
"If anybody wishes to make an ice cream cake but is a little lazy," says John E., use grocery-store ice cream sandwiches: Line the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with ice cream sandwiches, add a layer of crumbled cake or crushed cookies, then fudge or caramel sauce. Repeat with a second layer of ice cream sandwiches, pressing down on them before adding more cake and sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze.
If you really want to gild the lily, "I serve hot fudge sauce on the side with my ice cream cake," says TrishUntrapped. "Best of all worlds."
Discuss: Has anyone made an ice cream cake?