Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Toffee Trifle Ice Cream Cake

Most of my recipes have a story behind them, and this one is no different.  

My mom's chocolate trifle is a dessert like no other.  

Looking so beautiful in a glass trifle dish, the layers of coffee-soaked chocolate cake, whipped cream, chocolate pudding and heath bar bits were almost too pretty to sink a spoon into.   


But then desire for the moist cake, the creamy pudding and whipped cream and the crunchy toffee overcomes you.  

You breathe in its sweet and sticky aroma.

You can't stop thinking about what it would taste like.  

You dip a finger into the whipped cream and lick it off.  

You steal a piece of toffee and savor the sweetness on your tongue. 

And then you can't stand the anticipation any longer.

You take a spoon and dip it in, all the way down through all the layers.  

If mom wasn't around, you'd probably eat it straight out of the trifle dish.

But you politely scoop it into a bowl, gaze at it in awe and respect for a few seconds and then take a bite.

And it's everything you imagined it would be...

When I was planning the menu for our BBQ dinner party last night with a few friends, I had originally planned to make the trifle exactly as my mom used to make it.  But then I started thinking about ice cream.  It's summer, after all, and I missed the boat on posting any ice cream recipes during the national ice cream month of July.  And now with the cooler nights and shorter days, it will soon be fall.  So I decided there was no better way to end the summer than with a truly spectacular ice cream cake.  After all, we still have plenty of hot weather ahead before the leaves start to fall.

Before you ask, I did not make the ice cream.  Perhaps that would be more blog-worthy, but I don't have an ice cream maker, and honestly, with the time it took simply to build the ice cream cake, I can't imagine adding the hours needed to make homemade ice cream as well.  

I'll tell you a little secret.  My mom didn't actually use coffee to soak the cake, but she's made me promise not to divulge her secret ingredient.  I didn't use coffee either, although you certainly could.  While shopping for ingredients, I found a bottle of caramel syrup, the kind you might add to a latte, and used that to soak the cake.  Yummy!  I could have eaten that caramel-soaked cake straight out of the cake pan with a spoon.  And after it's pressed into the layers and frozen, it takes on a delicious brownie-like texture.

Making this ice cream cake takes a little patience, since you'll need to stop and freeze each level as you go, and once all the layers are built, it will need to freeze overnight.  But believe me.  It's worth it.

Now if only a few more people would stop by today and help us eat it!  Jamie and I were trying to decide what to call the cake, and among a few other ideas were "don't-skip-the-gym-this-week ice cream cake" and "the-50-thousand-calorie ice cream cake".  But in the end, I just want to name it after the flavors, the dessert and the memories which inspired me.

And the best thing about having half an ice cream cake left in your freezer?  Sharing a piece for breakfast.  :)

Who wants to stop by for some dessert tonight?

Chocolate Caramel Toffee Trifle Ice Cream Cake
  • Devils Food chocolate cake mix
  • 1 16-ounce container Cool Whip, thawed
  • 2 half gallons ice cream, different flavors (we used Heath Bar ice cream and Chocolate Cheesecake ice cream)
  • 1 bag heath bar bits
  • 8 tablespoons caramel syrup (or coffee)
  • 6 tablespoons caramel topping
  • 6 tablespoons chocolate syrup (I didn't use this, but wish I had!)
  • 10-inch spring form pan
  • 7-inch spring form pan
 Bake the cake in a 9x13 pan according to the directions on the box and cool completely in the pan.  Take a fork and crumble the cake into crumbs.  Drizzle with the 8 tablespoons of caramel syrup or coffee and toss with a fork to moisten.

Thaw the heath bar ice cream for about 15-20 minutes, or until it's spreadable but not too runny.  It may be helpful to transfer the ice cream to a large bowl and stir to smooth it out for spreading.

While the ice cream is thawing, spray the sides only of the spring form pans with non-stick spray, then cut pieces of parchment or wax paper and press against the sides of the pan.  Trim to fit.

It's time to build your first layer.  Scoop two cups of the cake crumbs into the 10-inch pan and 1 cup of cake crumbs into the 7-inch pan.  Press down firmly with the back of a spoon to cover the bottom of the pans.  (If the cake sticks to the spoon, spray the back of the spoon with non-stick spray.)

Scoop 2 cups of ice cream into the 10-inch pan and 1 cup of ice cream into the 7 inch pan.  Spread evenly.

Drizzle each with 1 tablespoon of caramel topping (and chocolate syrup if you're using it) and a generous sprinkling of heath bits.  I got a big glob of caramel topping in one spot, but no worries!  It doesn't have to be perfect.  The beauty of this recipe is how the imperfection of the layers still look completely amazing.

Scoop 1 cup of cool whip into the 10-inch pan and 1/2 cup of cool whip into the 7-inch pan.  Spread evenly.

Freeze both pans for 1 hour.

Now build your second layer.  Thaw the chocolate ice cream to a spreadable consistency.  I built the second layer a little different from the first, since I used all of the chocolate ice cream for this layer. Start with the cake, 2 cups for the 10-inch pan and 1 cup for the 7-inch pan.

Now spread 2/3 of the carton of chocolate ice cream in the 10-inch pan and 1/3 of the chocolate ice cream in the 7-inch pan.  Finish with the caramel topping, heath bits and cool whip, as you did for the first layer.  After completing the second layer, freeze pans for 1 hour.

For the third and last layer, I filled the 10-inch pan to the top with two cups of cake crumbs and the rest of the heath bar ice cream.  Then I filled the 7-inch pan to the top with 1 cup of cake crumbs and just topped with cool whip.  Spread both layers so that they are smooth and even.  For the final layer, I only sprinkled the 7-inch cake with heath bits.  

(After both pans are filled, you should still have about 1 1/2 cups of cool whip and a few heath bar bits left for garnish.)

Cover the pans with plastic wrap and freeze overnight, at least 8 hours.

When you're ready to assemble the cake, press down gently on each cake to make sure they are very firm.  Set the 10-inch pan on a plate or cake pedestal.  Carefully, remove the sides of the pan and peel the wax paper off the cake.  (The 10-inch cake will remain on the base of the spring-form pan.)

Take the 7-inch cake and carefully remove the sides of the pan and peel the wax paper off the cake.  Take a sharp knife and gently slide it under the cake, between the cake and the base, to loosen it from the base.  The whole cake should lift off the base pretty easily.  Once you've removed the 7-inch cake from its base, center it on top of the 10-inch cake.

Take the remaining cool whip and using a pastry bag or piping gun, pipe the cool whip around the base of the top cake in a pretty pattern.  I used a star tip on a piping gun to achieve this look.  Sprinkle with the remaining heath bits and you're done!

Freeze until ready to eat, and if desired, drizzle with more caramel topping before serving.