“Carvel” Ice Cream Cake and a Birthday


Wednesday was my dear C.’s birthday and this is all he wanted… a Carvel style ice cream cake. No presents, no birthday party, no crowds, just an ice cream cake. He is a man of simple needs. C. and I are what people refer to as an “unexpected couple”. I suppose at first glance, we do not match. He is very private and would kill me if I revealed too much personal information, but I do want to say that he lifted me and carried me through some of the worst times in my life. He has a character that I admire, strong as I would like to be, an independent spirit.

So back to the cake… In case you are not familiar with Carvel, it is a franchise of ice cream shops mostly located in the East Coast. I never knew about them until I moved to Florida and never saw one in Colorado where we lived before. They are known for the ice cream cakes that are decorated with bright colors (most popular is a whale design) and have layers of ice cream, chocolate cake and “chocolate crunchies”. The chocolate crunchies are essential. I have never seen a list of the ingredients they use in their ice creams and cakes, but judging by looks, I presume they have many ingredients in them that I cannot even pronounce (and I hope the Carvel Corporation does not suit me for saying this). Guilty pleasure.

Since this was C.’s only request, I gladly made him two ice cream cakes. I built them in individual ring molds so there was no need to cut and it was easier to eat. The first cake had a chocolate buttermilk cake base, vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate streusel to emulate the Carvel crunchies. The other cake had the same chocolate buttermilk cake base, double chocolate chip ice cream and chocolate meringues.


Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Makes quarter sheet pan

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Cream the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time. Scrape the bowl so all ingredients are well mixed. Add the flour with the baking soda and while the mixer is mixing these, add the buttermilk. Mix until all ingredients are combined.

Spread batter on a quarter sheetpan and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Let the cake cool. Cut 3 inch circles with a cookie cutter. We will build the cake in a ring mold that size.

Vanilla Ice Cream

500 grams whole milk
130 grams heavy cream
40 grams glucose or corn syrup
150 grams of sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped
180 grams egg yolks

In a saucepan, combine the whole milk, cream, vanilla bean, glucose and sugar together. Bring to a boil. Have the egg yolks lightly whipped on a bowl and when the milk comes to a boil, temper it into the egg yolks. Whisk. Add the custard back to the saucepan and cook stirring constantly to 84 degrees Celsius.

Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and chill it over an ice bath. When it has cooled, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let it cool overnight and the next day churn in the ice cream machine. Freeze.

When ready to build the cake, take the ice cream out of the freezer and place it in the refrigerator to soften a bit and until it is pliable.

Chocolate Streusel

50 grams unsalted butter
50 grams sugar
50 grams almond flour
40 grams flour
10 grams cocoa powder
pinch of salt

Cream all ingredients together until a ball forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until it hardens. When it is solid, grate it with a large grater or even through a food grinder. You will get little pieces of streusel. Refrigerate right away.

When the pieces of streusel are hard again, spread them on a sheetpan and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes. Let the streusel cool and store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Double Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

750 grams half and half
150 grams egg yolks
150 grams sugar
225 grams bittersweet chocolate (58%), chopped
50 grams bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a saucepan, bring the half and half and the sugar to a boil. Place the egg yolks in a bowl and when the half and half is boiling, temper it into the egg yolks. Bring this mixture back to the saucepan and cook to 84 degrees Celcius. Pour this over the chopped chocolate (225 grams) and whisk until the chocolate melts. Strain the custard through a fine sieve and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, churn it in the ice cream machine and at the end of the churning, fold in the finely chopped chocolate. Freeze.

Chocolate Meringues

150 grams organic egg whites
150 grams sugar
150 grams powdered sugar, sifted
25 grams good quality cocoa powder, sifted

Whip the egg whites until they are almost fully whipped. Slowly start adding the granulated sugar while the mixer is still running. Whip until we obtain a shiny, stiff meringue but make sure not to overwhip or it will dry out.

Sprinkle a third of the sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder and fold with a spatula. Repeat until all the powdered sugar and cocoa powder have been folded in.

Place meringue into a pastry bag with number 4 pastry tip and pipe lines onto a sheetpan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 200 degree oven for an hour. Let the meringues cool and then, store them in an airtight container until ready to use.


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48 Responses to ““Carvel” Ice Cream Cake and a Birthday”

  1. Peabody says:

    I don’t blame him, I love Carvel cakes.

  2. nadia says:

    Aran this looks so yummy I came close to eating my screen! It is exactly what My husband asks for on his birthday, Carvel cake that is all he wants..I never understood it because i think they taste plain, My grandmother use too make the best Ice cream cake ever. Aran- I will be surprising him with this sometime soon- the photographs are sinful!

  3. monica says:

    With a cake like this, any birthday, is a happy birthday. Gourgeous, and delicious.

  4. This looks so much better than the original!

    My husband’s favorite pound cake comes from a baking mix in a box – he even carries one of them (more if we had room) back with him from GErmany whenever he has a chance ;-) .

  5. I am bookmarking this one. Funny, I had a Carvel cake not too long ago and I was surprised how ultra sweet and synthetic it tasted to me now… tho I ate every last bit of it!

  6. Bea says:

    Gorgeous looking cakes. You spoiled him! I had never heard about these cakes before, i must say too!

  7. Y says:

    Looks delicious, Aran! I wish my boy would request ice-cream cake for his birthday. He wants a Playstation 3 this year :P

  8. Miss C. says:

    oohhhhhh…yummm…Your creations make me crave for ice cream and it’s winter down here!

    –Christy

  9. Stunning! I don’t love Carvel…and there’s one right down the street. BUT, I would totally love your rendition. You never cease to amaze me!

  10. Wow, much nicer than the original. The little meringues look delicious!

  11. Bridget says:

    Aran..this looks divine! Ice cream cake is my husband’s favorite, too. :)

  12. Camille says:

    Happy Birthday to your husband!

    The cake Looks rich and creamy and absolutely delicious…giving me ideas for my husband’s birthday next month.

  13. Marianna says:

    This cake looks amazing!! I’m going to have to do some research on Carvel cakes- must admit I’m not familiar with those!

  14. Warda says:

    Happy Birthday, C!

    Never heard of this cake before. But you can never go wrong with an ice cream cake. Lucky man and lucky little family :)

  15. Candace says:

    Your hubby is a lucky lucky man! I better not show this to mine! :) It looks absolutely yummy!

  16. What memories you have brought back for me, Aran! Carvel cakes are my absolute favorite. I had one every year for my birthday when I was a girl. You can still find them here in the grocery store freezer, but they’re not the same. Thanks for this recipe. I will try it.

  17. Victoria says:

    My birthday is coming up. Unless you want to make one of these for me, I’m making it for myself!!!!! Wow. I think I’m going to call C “YMDIBYAL,” which stands for you might deserve it, but you are lucky. Anyway, congratulations to you and Happy Birthday to YMDIBYAL.

  18. You’ve certainly given the Carvel people a new bench mark to aspire toward!

    I’m glad you have such a nice match in your hubby – its nice to hear.

  19. Kristen says:

    Happy birthday to your hubby! It seems you two are perfect for each other.
    What a gorgeous cake!

  20. what a beautiful looking cake. A dream for a chocoholic. Happy Birthday to you hubby, i’m sure he must’ve loved it.

  21. Gloria says:

    I would like the same Aran, look beautiful, really beautiful, mine is June,9 (Im kidding).
    But really sometimes didn’t lovely other persona make you the Cake, here Im the 9,June and the twins are 13 June Do you believe, so normally I clebrate the twins. Besos, Gloria

  22. JILL says:

    Tell “him” we said happy birthday. It’s funny how some parts of the country know Carvel and have so many memories and other parts of the country have never heard of them! As you know, we don’t have Carvel in Colorado, but I know what they look like (kinda like a DQ cake) and your’s is nothing like it. Your’s is amazing! You know I’m not a huge icecream fan, but this is right up my alley. “C” is a lucky guy and he knows it. JILL

  23. giz says:

    I’ve never had a Carvel cake :( – but I’m thrilled that I haven’t seen them here in the great white north – my seams would be splitting for sure. I admit, I do have to try making this cake though – it does look pretty darned terrific.

  24. mimi says:

    i love carvel cakes even if i haven’t had one since in over twenty years! but yours look divine and delish, what a lucky guy! homemade crunchies!

  25. Such a lovely cake. Sounds like a perfect happy birthday to me!

  26. Tartelette says:

    Never had a Carvel ice cream but I am pretty darn sure I would like it :)
    Happy belated birthday to C.!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    happy birthday to “C”! i’m practically drooling looking at your pictures. i can only imagine how good it tasted! please never underestimate how unbelievably talented you are aran!
    ..deena

  28. cookworm says:

    What a beautiful cake. I’ve never had a Carvel cake, but it seems hard to top yours! Also, nothing wrong with non-traditional couples – you can just call yourself an iconoclast. ;)

    Love the new design by the way- it’s very clean and suits your wonderful photographs very well!

  29. Mrs.French says:

    Hmmm, if this would be a possibility I think I would be completely happy with just this on my birthday too. C seems like a pretty fantastic guy! Happy Birthday to C!

  30. Bakerette says:

    Looks amazing. There’s something so simple and child-like about it, yet at the same time so sophisticated. “Crunch” is such a fun sensation & ice-cream such a fun dessert but you’ve made it into an elegant classy masterpiece. C should be happy to have you -and the cake of course :)

  31. Feliz cumpleaños a C
    Que voy a decir yo si estoy enamoradísima de otro “reservado”

  32. Esti says:

    Zorionak C!

    Si es tan reservado, quizá es que tiene corazón vasco, quién sabe, ja, ja…
    Mi marido también se muere si hablo de él más de la cuenta!!

  33. C.L. says:

    Aran,
    These look more than Birthday worthy! Your husband is a lucky man :) Absolutely beautiful!

  34. Gefeliciteerd met het verjaardag van je man! The Dutch congratulate not only the birthday boy or girl, but also their partners/spouses, their immediate family and friends. So congratulations on the birthday of your hubby!

    I’m curious as to why your vanilla ice cream includes glucose, could you elaborate on that?

    Both cakes look out of this world, by the way! Carvel has got nothing on you!

  35. Aran says:

    thanks everyone… i have conveyed all your wishes to the mister.

    mari- the glucose allows the ice cream to be more “pliable”… creamier might be a better adjective and it eliminates a little bit the forming of ice crystals. you can of course use all sucrose but that bit of glucose helps a lot especially for when making ice cream in my rudimentary ice cream machine.

  36. linda says:

    It looks so beautifully dark and mysterious. I love the look of the chocolate meringue, especially with the silver balls.
    Your husband is lucky, at least you listen to a wish ;)

  37. Ginny says:

    I love them too…but I think yours look alot better!

  38. Tammy says:

    that looks so yummy! i have just come across your blog and I’m hooked!

  39. nicisme says:

    I know you don’t need anyone else lining up for a slice, but I’m going to join the end of the queue!
    Looks fabulous!!!

  40. Ton mari ne peux t’en vouloir de dévoiler ces goûts là et de nous les faire partager. Tes deux gâteaux sont splendides, j’aimerais bien les faire. Il me faut traduire la recette en premier.

  41. PheMom says:

    I’ve never heard of Carvel, but your cakes look and sound insanely good! WOW!!

  42. Bron says:

    Stunning cakes Aran, absolutely! He is one very lucky birthday boy.

  43. not one, but two kinds of ice cream cake–what a lucky guy! the crunchies are the best part of a carvel cake.

  44. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  45. mai says:

    Coming out of lurker-dom to say how fantastic these cakes look!! I know I’m 2 years late, but have just starting reading all your posts. So I have a question about the almond flour in the chocolate crunchies. What can I substitute for it to make it friendly for those with nut allergies?

  46. Grass says:

    I’m working on an ice cream cake for a few friends, and am wondering how you went about preparing the chocolate shell? I’m worried that the chocolate may discolor if I freeze it, but I can’t figure out any other way.

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