Big Boy Birthday Ice Cream Cake

Today we’re making a rich, chocolatey ice cream cake worthy of the most sophisticated of grownups.

About this Big Boy Birthday Ice Cream Cake Recipe

Our youngest boy is turning four this weekend. For his birthday he requested a big boy chocolatey ice cream cake. Taking him at his word, we made an ice cream cake that had not one, not two, not three, but four kinds of chocolate involved. Our favorite dark chocolate cake is layered with fudge sauce, toasted cake crumbles and ice cream, and topped off with a layer of whipped cream. Once the cake is frozen, a rich ganache is poured over — just in case you didn’t get enough chocolate in.

As if to feed in to our mom guilt, this cake, which should have fed 8 according to the original recipe, seemed rather to feed 16. I guess that’s what we get for not throwing him a real birthday party. The birthday boy, however, seemed pleased as punch with his huge balloon, chainsaw toy (god help us), and this decadent cake.

Recipe Facts

  • Yield: 12-16 servings
  • Active Time: 2 hours
  • Freezing Time: 4 hours to overnight


For the Dark Chocolate Cake

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 3 tbsp hot coffee (feel free to use instant espresso powder)

For the Hot Fudge

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 4.5 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Cake Assembly

  • 2 pints ice cream, softened slightly
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled, divided
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • maraschino cherries for decorating


Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease one 8-inch cake pan and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  3. Cream butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg, beating well after each addition.
  5. Beat in vanilla and coffee.
  6. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  7. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in thirds, alternating with sour cream, and beating on low speed after each addition.
  8. Stir in water and coffee until blended.
  9. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  10. Bake 30-35 minutes in the center of oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave the oven on.
  11. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
  12. When cake is cool, using a serrated knife, slice off the top quarter of the of the cake and pulse in a food processor until crumbs form.
  13. Bake the cake crumbs until crisp, 10-15 minutes.

Make the Fudge:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the cream with the brown sugar, cocoa powder and corn syrup and bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer 1 minute.
  2. Remove from heat and add in chocolate, butter, and salt. Whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

Assemble the Cake:

  1. Line a six-inch cake mold with an acetate strip.
  2. Trim the cake to fit in the mold.
  3. Using an offset spatula, smooth the hot fudge evenly over the cake and top with half the cake crunchies.
  4. Freeze 20 minutes until set.
  5. Using a spatula, spread half the ice cream over the cake. Freeze 20 minutes to set.
  6. Using an offset spatula, smooth the remaining half of the hot fudge evenly over the cake and top with the remaining cake crunchies. Freeze 20 minutes until set.
  7. Using a spatula, spread the remaining half of the ice cream over the cake.
  8. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat 3/4 cup of the cream with the sugar until it holds soft peaks. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the whipped cream over the cake, reserving the rest of the whipped cream for decoration. Freeze 2-4 hours or overnight.
  9. Make the ganache by heating the remaining cream until barely simmering. Pour over the chocolate and whisk to combine. Let cool for approximately 30 minutes, until roughly 80 F.
  10. Remove the cake from the ring and peel off the acetate strip. Transfer the cake to a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Working quickly, pour the ganache onto the center of the cake in one fluid motion, letting the excess drip down the side.
  11. Freeze the cake until the ganache is set, approximately 30 minutes.
  12. Meanwhile, whisk the reserved whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe whipped cream around the top of the cake and garnish with maraschino cherries. Serve immediately.