At the outset, I feel compelled to note that everything but the cake in this Faux Fried Ice Cream Cake is “faux”– there’s no real frying (sauteeing at the most), and there’s no ice cream. But there is cake, and it’s a decadent, delicious cake at that, I promise. It’s inspired by an actual ice cream cake from Sprinkle Bakes, one of my favorite baking blogs.
I was first introduced to fried ice cream as a teenager when I went to a Mexican restaurant with my high school Spanish Club. It was, of course, ice cream that had been rolled in a crumb coating and deep-fried just until the outside got crunchy, leaving the inside frozen. Really tasty (what’s not to like?), but a lot of trouble to make without a deep-freezer and a fryer.
However, if you take crushed cornflakes and sauté them in a little butter and brown sugar, they take on an amazing caramelly-buttery flavor that’s reminiscent of the fried ice cream coating from days of yore. It’s incredible served over actual ice cream, but since ice cream desserts don’t travel well I decided to incorporate it into a 9×13″ cake, perfect for those end-of-summer barbecues where you won’t necessarily have a freezer handy.
I admit it, I used a boxed cake mix for the base of this cake– I didn’t have the energy to go creaming butter and sugar and whatnot, so I just added a little cinnamon to a standard yellow cake to punch up the flavor a bit. Trust me, when people taste the homemade frosting and topping, they won’t even notice the cake mix!
1 yellow cake mix, prepared according to package instructions, except add 1 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon to the mix.
Frosting (shamelessly stolen from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe— thanks Mel!)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened slightly. Butter should be softened but not melty– it should still have a little resistance when you push it with your finger.
- In a saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth.
- Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it looks like hot pudding. This could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, depending on your stove, heat, etc.
- Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature.You can also refrigerate it, but it needs to come back to room temp before you proceed with the next step.
- Once the mixture is at room temp, beat in the vanilla in a stand mixer (paddle attachment) on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for five minutes, until it is light and fluffy.
- If the consistency is too loose to be spreadable, chill until workable.
Fried Ice Cream Topping
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups crushed cornflakes (not 3 cups cornflakes, crushed– it’s 3 cups after crushing)
1. Melt the butter in a skillet, add sugar and salt, and cook over medium-low heat until bubbly. It’ll look like a lot of butter, but don’t worry! It’ll incorporate once the cornflakes are added.
2. Add the crushed cornflakes and stir, cooking until they smell toasty and caramelized (about 5 minutes).
3. Remove from heat and spread over a sheet pan to let cool completely.
Caramel sauce or dulce de leche
Honey (or chocolate sauce if you’re in the mood)
1. Reserve 3/4 cup of frosting and put into a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
2. Remove the cake from its pan and slice in half horizontally, making two layers.
3. Replace the bottom layer in the pan and spread half the frosting over it. Sprinkle a handful of the fried cornflakes over the frosting, and drizzle extremely liberally with caramel sauce or dulce de leche. You want to still see some of the frosting through the cornflakes on this layer, so the next cake layer sticks well.
4. Replace the top layer of cake and spread the remaining frosting over it. Generously pour more fried cornflakes over it, packing them down to make a thick layer covering all of the frosting. Drizzle honey over the top– not as much as the caramel sauce, but just enough to get the flavor.
5. Use your reserved frosting to pipe rosettes over the top of the cake. Garnish with maraschino cherries.
- One thing I will admit is that if you make this in cake form (as opposed to cupcake), the ratio of frosting to cake is a little bit low. I made these once before as cupcakes and they were incredible– instead of slicing the cake horizontally just core the cupcakes out and drizzle the caramel/dulce de leche inside. No need to add frosting or cornflakes on the inside, because you’ll be putting enough of both on top. Put a nice round dome of frosting on top to mimic the shape of a fried ice cream scoop, and pack the cornflakes on before drizzling with honey. I’d go so far as to say I recommend making this recipe as cupcakes instead, but since I don’t have any occasion to do it again I have no photos of the process…
- If you don’t have a star tip or piping bag, you can replace the decorative frosting rosettes with canned whipped cream. Just make sure you serve them right away if you do, or the cream will deflate.
- Extra fried cornflakes can be kept in a ziploc bag and used as ice cream topping with a drizzle of honey.
- This cake is also excellent with a side of pineapple– it has all the flavors of pineapple upside-down cake, with an extra crunch!
- The cake can be a bit dry straight out of the fridge, because that’s what happens to cold cake. Let it come to cool room temp before eating and it’ll be a lot more moist-tasting.