Allergy Friendly Customizable Ice Cream Cake
This is a special recipe post for me because it was inspired for my husband Erik’s birthday which was this week. He LOVES ice cream. Like, he needs an intervention for it. My mom is the same way and I think that’s why they’ve been BFF and gang up against me since they met.🤔. Erik is truly the most wonderful dad and husband (and super easy on the eyes 😏) and he deserves to have a post just for him.
Anyway, ice cream is always a white whale for those who are dairy or egg allergic. I have been making ice cream for years and years for work and it is certainly not allergy or vegan friendly by any stretch of the imagination. Real ice cream is made a custard base called crème anglaise, which is French for “English cream”. It is a milk/egg/heavy cream based custard cooked gently over the stovetop, then chilled and run in an ice cream machine. Actually, in a traditional French kitchen brigade, the job description of glacier exists, and that is the chef that creates frozen desserts! Made in the style the way I’m showing here is called a gateau glacier or torte glacier, which is basically an ice cream cake.
What elevates a layered dessert is always the addition of assorted textures and flavors. Smooth, crunchy, cakey, rich, sweet and a hint of salt combine to make your taste buds the happiest. My layered ice cream cake works from the bottom up with a layer of cake, ice cream, cookie crumbles, more ice cream, cake and finally, a rich chocolate ganache layer for fudgy icing heaven!
I made this completely allergy friendly and the BEST part is that it is completely customizable to your tastes and safe needs. The possibilities are endless! The components of this particular cake are our family’s favorites that are safe for Casey. I’m offering links and recipes here from the rest of the website as a template from the one I made but feel free to mix and match cake, cookies, ice cream or toppings to what YOU and YOUR family love.
Be safe, be well, and life is short so eat dessert first…safely! Oh, and happy birthday to my main squeeze! 💙👩🏻🍳🎂
**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs**
Ingredients and Substitutions/Equipment
IMPORTANT NOTE – The most important thing to note for this recipe is to have everything prepared before you start. The ice cream melts quickly and anything too warm will obviously affect it. You also have to watch for the ice cream setting up too much before another layer is added, the layers need to settle into each other so there are no large gaps.
Ice cream – The star of the show in this post! Casey’s safe ice cream is Oatly brand. Even though Casey is allergic to all seeds, he can tolerate refined or certain seed oils. It does contain rapeseed oil, which is not safe for all so as always, please check what is safe for your needs! Coconut milk ice cream is safe for him but unfortunately a former favorite brand started adding pea protein so that’s out now. 😞 We really love Oatly! I make him homemade ice cream but truth to be told, it’s cheaper and less time consuming to buy. You’ll need 2 pints of ice cream, either the same or different, it’s up to you!
Cake layers – Any cake you love is fine, you’ll need two thin layers, NOT two full cake layers. So, basically one cake cut in 1/3 or ½ to make thin enough layers for the base and top. Make your cake flavor complimentary to the ice cream flavors. The cake should be baked and cooled enough to slice. I like refrigerating overnight. Don’t trash the crumbs! They can decorate the top of the cake or save in the freezer to make cake pops.
Cookie layer – Again, whatever cookie you love works great, whether it’s homemade or store bought. Safe Oreo type cookies work great for cookies and cream, or chocolate wafer are always delicious with coffee ice cream.
Add in layers – If nuts are safe, go ahead and add them in to the layers! Certain fruit, sprinkles, marshmallows, or soft candies work well. Be aware of what you’re adding though-some candies and fruit will freeze so hard that you will crack a tooth biting into it! For example, if you want to add something like an M&M candy, use minis instead of regular size.
Ganache layer – This is my favorite layer! A thick last topping of fudgy ganache is a bittersweet contract to the sweetness of the cake. As always, I use dairy free Pascha chocolate. In my opinion it is BY FAR the best dairy free chocolate out there.
Equipment – I used two specialty items for this that are not a deal breaker but does make it easier and nice to have if you enjoy baking and pastry creation on a more intermediate level. The first is an adjustable cake ring. This is a metal ring that can be adjusted to various sizes when building layered tortes or gateau (cakes) like this one. Adjustable is not necessary, solid sizes are sold but this is a bit more multi-functional. The other piece of equipment is acetate, which is a heavy food grade plastic to line cake rings or pans (NOT FOR OVEN BAKING!) or chocolate work. This is very common in a professional pastry kitchen as the lining makes the cake smooth and easier to unmold frozen/refrigerated layered cakes. Again, it’s not necessary but does make it a bit easier. Both are found inexpensively on Amazon.
A cake pan can be used as well, any diameter size is fine that fits your needs, but you would like to have one with some height, a 3” height is great. If this is being used, then rub a THIN layer of safe oil all in your pan with a paper towel and line with plastic wrap leaving overhang and smoothing out all of the wrinkles. The plastic will help the cake release once it’s time to unmold.
👇**Please refer to photos below for steps**👇
**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs.**
Allergy Friendly Customizable Ice Cream Cake
Author: Katie Martino Lopez
Prep Time: (depending on store bought vs. homemade ingredients) 30 minutes-2 hours
Chill Time: at least 8 hours, overnight preferable
Total Time: This depends on all ingredients, prepare to do this the day before or very first thing in the day with all components ready to go.
Yield: one 8” or 9” cake, 12-16 portions per cake (NOTE: all yields and amounts will be different for alternative size ring/cake pan)
Cake Layer – Any cake base will work! Store bought, boxed, homemade, it’s up to you. Here’s the recipe I use for dairy/egg/gluten free Depression or Wacky cake. So good and so easy!
Gluten Free Depression/Wacky Cake
- 1 ½ c. (210 g.) gluten free all-purpose flour blend with xanthan gum or regular all-purpose flour. For Chocolate Variation: use 1 ¼ c. gluten free/regular flour + ¼ c. sifted cocoa powder. Still add xanthan gum if your gluten free blend doesn’t contain it.
- ¾ c. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- scant (a little less) than 6 Tbls. vegetable or light olive oil
- 1 ¼ c. water (use a bit less water for regular all-purpose flour)
Note: Depression cake is usually made in the pan it’s being baked in, but I prefer to do it in a separate bowl just because I think it incorporates the ingredients better without over mixing.
- Preheat oven to 350. Have your pan prepared-either a 9” round or square or one regular (12) or one mini muffin pan (24 cups) for cupcakes. Line cupcake pan with liners. The large pan does not have to be greased.
- In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Whisk well to incorporate.
- Using the traditional Depression cake method, make 2 small wells and one large well on the surface of the dry ingredients. In this order, add the vanilla in one small, the oil in the large well and the apple cider vinegar in the other small well. Immediately pour the water all over the top and whisk to combine. Do not overmix but don’t leave lumps.
- Pour the cake batter into the pans or portion into the cupcake pan. Immediately bake approximately 35 minutes for the 9” pan and 25 for the cupcakes.
- Note: Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before unmolding icing-the cake will crack if it is too warm when unmolded.
- Pro Tip: If you are splitting and filling the cake, wrap and chill the cake overnight. The crumb will be less soft and not as messy to cover.
Cookie Crumb Layer – I chose to use straight up chocolate chip cookies for my cake. Oreos and chocolate wafer cookies would be great too. You don’t that many, maybe 7 or 8 crushed up. I always keep my cookie dough frozen in scoops so they’re ready to go and this made is even easier. I cut a scoop in 1/3’s to use for garnish on the top of the cake. BAKE THE COOKIES A LITTLE CRISPER AND DARKER! This is important because it will help retain crunch in the layer for longer than chewy cookies.
Here’s the link to my vegan/gluten free chocolate chippers:
Take about 7-8 regular sized cookies and place in a Ziploc bag, squeezing the air out. Make sure there is room in the bag. Take a ladle or heavy plastic kitchen utensil and whack the bag until there are large crumbs. Don’t make dust!
Safe Ice Cream – You will need 2 pints of ice cream for the cake, one per layer. Use whatever safe brand and flavors you like! I use Oatly.
Ganache Layer – If regular heavy cream is safe for you, then please use as well as regular semi/bittersweet chocolate. Coconut heavy cream or canned full fat coconut milk works best here, regular non-dairy milks are very thin and hard to set up. Alternatively, safe whipped topping or frosting can be used but sparingly.
Non-Dairy Chocolate Ganache
6 oz. (3/4 c.) non-dairy or safe chocolate, chopped or chips
6 oz. (3/4 LIQUID c.) coconut heavy cream or regular heavy cream
- Set chocolate aside in a small/medium bowl
- Heat cream to just boiling and pour over chocolate.
- Let sit for a minute or two for the hot cream to start melting the chocolate. SLOWLY whisk from the middle out, bringing the cream in to melt the chocolate. Do not overmix or it will be grainy.
- If lumps remain, place the bowl of ganache over a double boiler and stir very gently until it melts.
- Place plastic wrap directly on the surface and let ganache set slightly up at cool room temperature. It needs to be pourable but not hot or it will seep into the cake turning it mushy and melt the ice cream.
- Have all your components ready and make room in your freezer. There will be brief chilling in between steps. The ice cream can’t be too cold, or the layers will not settle properly, but it cannot be melting either!
- Prepare cake ring – On a parchment lined pan, place your cake ring or plastic prepared cake pan. If using acetate and a cake ring, cut the acetate to line the inside of the ring, overlapping a bit.
- First Cake Layer – Slice your cake into 2 thin layers, no more than ½” thick. Place one layer in the bottom of ring, trimming if necessary. If the cake breaks, don’t worry! Just patch it, nobody will see. Set the other layer aside. SAVE ALL THE CAKE SCRAPS! Freeze to make truffles or cake pops or garnish the sides of another cake.
- First Ice Cream Layer – Use your darker ice cream on the bottom because otherwise it will streak through the lighter color when the cake is cut. Pop the ice cream pint into the microwave and zap at 15 second intervals-it should be barely spreadable but NOT MELTED.
- Scoop the whole pint and spread as evenly as possible to the edges of the mold. Fill in any air gaps and holes.
- Pop in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Remove and sprinkle ¾ of the cookie crumbs in an even layer, reserving the rest for the top layer. If there are any very large lumps, press down gently.
- Freeze 10 minutes.
- Repeat step 4 with second layer of ice cream.
- Freeze 10 minutes.
- Add second cake layer, patting gently to even out.
- Freeze 10 minutes.
- Add about ¾-1 c. cooled ganache to the top of the cake layer, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle the rest of the crumbs on the top.
- Freeze at least 8 hours, preferable overnight.
- To Unmold– Remove cake from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften enough to remove from the cake ring/pan. Have your serving plate prepared.
- If using a ring, gently push up from the underside of the cake, rotating the pan as you go. When it releases, push it out and gently center on the serving plate. Don’t push too hard, you don’t want it to pop out and fall! If using a cake pan, gently pull up plastic wrap on opposite sides with two hands. Wiggle back and forth until it releases and gently remove plastic wrap. Gently center on the serving plate.
- You can use extra ganache to garnish or decorate as you’d like.
- Freeze until ready to serve.
- To Serve – Remove the cake from the freezer for 10 minutes to soften slightly.
- To cut, dip a heavy, long knife into hot water, wipe, and slice through the cake. I cut in half from 12 to 6, then rotate 90 degrees, then repeat 12 to 6. From there I cut each ¼ into either 2 slices or 3 to yield 8 or 12 servings, even 16. Repeat to cut desired slices.
- Freeze unused cake for up to 2 weeks.
- Again, this is completely customizable to all your needs and flavor preferences. Just think about how things will freeze and if flavor profiles are compatible.
- Remember to put your darker cake/ice cream flavors on the bottom of the cake. If you don’t the dark will streak through the light and it will kill the appeal of the layers.
- This may look daunting but it’s really not! It can be done so easily and gave a great wow factor! Take your time to plan it and it will be awesome!
As we all know, reading labels and preparing food when managing allergies is a job within itself with much responsibility. All the brands I use are ones that I have contacted, and Casey has eaten safely. That being said, I must remind…
Please do your own research when deciding which products and foods are safe for the allergies you manage. These are the ones that are safe for our needs but may not be for you. Everyone has different comfort levels with manufacturing and production procedures.
And, as a friendly reminder, always have 2 epinephrine auto injectors on hand!