Brownie Ice Cream Cake is the best make-ahead cake for summer celebrations. With a base of soft brownie, two types of ice cream, and chocolate hard shell on top, this recipe is the absolute best!
Meet the homemade dessert recipe that is about to be the hit of every single summer gathering. With so many delicious flavor combinations, I’ve been making this cake for almost every celebration this year. I love that I can make it a few days ahead and freeze it right up until it’s time to serve it. The base of the cake is what really makes this recipe stand out. You may notice it as a twist on my favorite Easy Chocolate Cake - it’s made in one bowl and turns into a softy, fudgy brownie in the freezer.
This cake is made in a 9-inch springform pan which keeps all of the layers straight and beautiful and makes it easy to store. You can choose any of your favorite ice cream flavors (ideas below!), making this an easy-to-customize dessert that is perfect for any summer celebration. Here’s how you make it.
How to Make It
- Line a springform pan with parchment paper - This will make the frozen cake easy to remove.
- Bake brownie base - Make a simple one-bowl brownie and bake it in the springform pan.
- Add first ice cream flavor - Let the first ice cream soften. Spread it out over the brownie. Freeze until nearly set, about 1 hour.
- Add hot fudge - Warm the hot fudge slightly in the microwave and pour it over the top of the ice cream. Freeze to set, about 30 minutes.
- Add second ice cream flavor - Let the second ice cream flavor soften. Spread it out over the hot fudge. Freeze until set, about 2 hours.
- Finish and serve - Take the cake out of the freezer about 25 minutes before serving. Just before serving, remove it from the springform pan, drizzle with chocolate hardshell. Slice and serve!
- The ice cream should be very soft and spoon-able before you add it to the cake. This is especially true for the first layer because the ice cream will stick to the brownie as you spread it. To soften the ice cream, leave it at room temperature or defrost it in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the consistency of pudding.
- Use high-quality ice cream (see below for ideas).
- Slice the entire cake at once to avoid defrosting and refreezing. Freeze individual slices so that you can take them out as you want them.
Homemade Magic Shell and Homemade Hot Fudge
This recipe works just as well with store-bought versions of these toppings as it does with homemade. However, if you’d like to make these from scratch, I’ve included instructions in the recipe below. These are based on my favorite Hot Fudge and Magic Shell.
Because the ice cream has to be softened and refrozen to assemble the cake, use a rich, creamy variety of ice cream with a high content of milkfat. Ben and Jerry’s, Häagen-Dazs, and Tillamook will all work soften and refreeze without sacrificing any creamy texture. Lighter ice creams, especially slow churn and low-calorie varieties are more likely to turn icy and unpleasant when refrozen.
Work quickly and in stages, putting the ice cream cake back in the freezer between each step.
If the ice cream cake has not been sliced, cover or wrap the cake well and store it in the freezer. If the ice cream cake has been sliced, freeze the individual slices on a parchment-lined sheet pan until solid, about 2 hours. Then transfer the slices to a freezer bag or other container.
Just like anything in the freezer, air is the enemy and will cause freezer burn. The more tightly you cover the ice cream cake the longer it will stay fresh. Most ice cream cakes will be best if served within a week or two but can be safely served for up to 3 months.
Remove the entire ice cream cake from the freezer 20 minutes before serving. This will allow it to soften just enough to be easily sliced.
I've never made this with a vanilla cake base, but I'd recommend using this vanilla cake recipe if you wanted to try it.
Flavor Combination Ideas
- Peanut Butter + Chocolate
- Red Velvet + Sweet Cream
- Cookie Dough + Peanut Butter Cup
- Mint Chip + Chocolate
- Strawberry + Chocolate + Vanilla
- Chocolate Chip + Peanut Butter
More Summer Desserts
- Vanilla Cake Roll with Nutella Cream
- No-Bake Strawberry Cream Pie
- Sweet Cornmeal Cakes with Peaches and Cream
- Funfetti Cake Batter Milkshakes
Brownie Ice Cream Cake Recipe
- 9-inch Springform Pan
- Mixing Bowl
- Parchment Paper
- ½ cup All-Purpose Flour
- ½ cup Sugar
- ⅓ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- Pinch Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Cooking Oil (vegetable, canola, grape seed or avocado oil)
- ½ cup Water
- ¼ teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Ice Cream Cake:
- 2 pints Ice Cream (see note)
- 1 10 ounce jar Chocolate Fudge, store-bought (see note for homemade)
- ½ cup Magic Shell Topping, store-bought (see note for homemade)
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C.
- Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. (Note: For best results, I like to press a piece of parchment paper between the two parts of the springform pan before I close it and then spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray. This is optional, but makes the cake super easy to remove from the pan after freezing.)
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Add vegetable oil, water, and vanilla and stir just until no dry spots remain.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes.
- Let the brownie base cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. While the base cools, take the first pint of ice cream out of the freezer and let it soften on the counter.
- Give the ice cream a good stir and then spread it out over the brownie base. (Note: Be sure that it is evenly soft and spreads easily to avoid pulling up pieces of brownie as you spread it.)
- Transfer the cake to the freezer, uncovered, for 20 minutes to let the first layer of ice cream firm up.
- When the first layer of ice cream is fairly firm, stir the hot fudge (if it is really firm, you may want to microwave it for a few seconds to soften). Drizzle the hot fudge over the first layer of ice cream and return the cake to the freezer for 20 minutes to set the fudge. Meanwhile the second pint of ice cream out of the freezer to soften.
- Give the second pint of ice cream a good stir and then spread it out over the fudge layer. (Note: For an even surface, be sure that this pint of ice cream is very soft before spreading it. You may even want to defrost it in the microwave and then stir it really well before adding it to the cake.)
- Cover and freeze the ice cream cake until set, at least 2 hours (and up to a week).
- Remove cake from the freezer 10 minutes before serving. Take the cake out of the springform pan and drizzle with magic shell.
- Slice and serve.
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