I was embarrassingly deep into adulthood before I discovered that you can eat ice cream cake during non-birthday times. And that is what's known as a GAME CHANGER.
I grew up on Carvel, the East Coast-based ice cream chain and reputed originator of soft serve. Throughout my childhood and teen years, founder Tom Carvel's gravel flecked voice was a regular fixture on local television ads, reminding frozen dessert fans that "Wednesday is sundae" and updating them on the seasonal varieties of a cake called Cookie Puss. (You can imagine the annual excitement around Cookie O'Puss time.) I never had a birthday that was not marked with a Carvel cake — perhaps a Cookie Puss, perhaps a Hug Me the Bear.
The real star of the Carvel lineup, however, was Fudgie the Whale. Originally created as a Father's Day tribute — "a whale of a cake for a whale of a dad" — and frugally fashioned from the same mold as Carvel's Santa Claus cake, Fudgie soon proved so popular he eventually became a year-round staple.
After I became a grownup, I stopped eating ice cream cakes for a long time. Then when I started my own family, birthday cakes were baked, not picked up at the ice cream shop or the frozen foods section of the supermarket. Eventually, though, my daughters attended enough children's birthday parties to discover Carvel — and Baskin-Robbins, and Friendly's — and they naturally demanded a piece of the action for themselves. And it turns out that a Cookies n' Cream cake just for the hell of it on a Tuesday night is a pretty great way to wrap up the day.
But with my older kid away at college and my spouse now away half the time caring for his mother, a whole cake going cardboard stale in the freezer feels like too much. Yet I find that I long more than ever for the innocent cheer that only a Fudgie or a Cookie Puss can provide.
Working from an Uber Eats video that deconstructs the famous Fudgie and a recipe from Sarah Hearts, I've discovered one can easily put together a dessert that efficiently evokes the spirit — if not the exact iconic shape — of the Carvel classic. Best of all, homemade means custom made, so my baby whale is just straight up chocolate ice cream and Oreo crumbs, no vanilla necessary. You can make yours with any combination of your own favorite flavors. The only hard part will be summoning the patience to wait for it to firm up. I find pouring the residual cookie crumbs down one's throat to be an excellent way to pass the time. And besides, making it yourself still won't take nearly as long as waiting for your birthday to roll around.
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Makes four ice cream cakes
- 1 pint of your favorite ice cream, softened
- 1 cup of your favorite cookies, crushed into crumbs
- Jarred hot fudge sauce, at room temperature
- Reddi-Wip, canned frosting, sprinkles or decorating gel (optional)
- Line a muffin tin with 4 liners.
- Divide half of the ice cream evenly into the 4 cups, smoothing it gently down.
- Sprinkle a layer of cookie crumbs over the ice cream, gently patting it down.
- Scoop the remaining ice cream evenly into your 4 cups. Smooth the top so it's flattened.
- Stick the tin in the freezer to firm up, at least 30 minutes.
- Working quickly, take the tin out of the freezer, remove the cakes and put them on a cookie sheet. Spread a layer of the fudge sauce on each cake. Don't spread too thickly or it will slide off. Return to the freezer for another half hour.
- Remove the tin from the freezer and take the liners off the cakes.
- Working quickly again, press more cookie crumbs around the sides of each cake, covering as completely as possible. Return to freezer for at least an hour.
- Immediately before serving, take the cakes out and decorate to your liking. Sprinkles or a blast of whipped cream are easiest.
- Serve and eat right away.