I had two homeroom birthdays this week and when I asked the second student what kind of cake he wanted, he hesitated and asked, "Are we allowed to have ice cream cake?"
At the time, it seemed like a fine idea. "Sure," I told him, and made a note to myself to buy a Carvel cake from the grocery store.
Once, when I was a little girl, my Brownie troop took a field trip to our local Carvel store. At the time, all the gleaming stainless steel equipment seemed so so modern. We oohed in amazement when they showed us how the ice cream mix came freeze-dried in gallon cartons and aahed in astonishment when they poured it in the hopper of the soft serve machine and just added water. How incredible that in a matter of moments, it turned into the creamy and delicious concoction we all loved.
It was then they shared what I am sure was a trade secret-- the crunch between the layers of their delicious ice cream cakes was simply a sprinkling of that very same dry mix (!) At the end of the tour, they gave each of us a flying saucer and sent us on our way.
Last night, I dashed through the grocery-- after school, after writing club, after the gym, and before coming home to cook dinner-- in search of a Carvel cake. I admit I was looking forward to it; even after forty years and a significantly expanded palate, there's something indefinably tasty about that freeze dried ice cream, and I hadn't had one for a long time. I opened the freezer to gauge what size would be best for the 15 kids in my homeroom and was shocked to see the price tag. Just the wee eight incher was twenty bucks and the next size up was thirty. I considered the precedent I was setting and quickly decided that I was definitely not prepared to spend a possible $450.00 on birthdays should this trend catch on. It was a quandary though-- I'd already promised an ice cream cake.
Back in the 70's, after that visit to Carvels, my mom started making her own ice cream cakes. She'd seen the technique, and she used a spring form pan and a hand mixer to beat slightly softened ice cream to the proper consistency before spreading it in layers. As for the crunch? She used cookies and candy crushed up in the blender. Everyone raved about those cakes.
Putting the cardboard box back into its freezer case, I stepped across the aisle. There, an entire half-gallon of ice cream was on sale for $2.50. I knew just what to do.
My students were thrilled with the cake and quite impressed that I had made it myself. Win Win Win.