Making homemade gluten-free ice cream cake at home is so easy and even more delicious than store-bought. Caramel-swirled ice cream sandwiched between layers of tender gluten-free chocolate cake then frosted with whipped cream and caramel drizzle. You can also use your favorite kind of ice cream and forgo the caramel sauce to give it your own spin!
This post is sponsored by Safeway, a year-long partner of Snixy Kitchen
When Zoella was first born, a friend brought lasagna and a small cake to the hospital to celebrate. After we’d all eaten dessert, Lucas was snacking on kumquats when our friend revealed she’d never had one. We insisted she try one, but she declined, saying with all sincerity , “No thanks, I have a really good taste in my mouth right now.”
She probably doesn’t even remember saying it, but now, almost four years later, we still quote her whenever something is extra delicious.
Like this caramel-swirled chocolate gluten-free ice cream cake with crushed pretzels and roasted peanuts on top. I want to keep that really good taste in my mouth as long as possible. It’s acceptable to eat cake as your only meal for a full day, right? I just don’t want to ruin the taste in my mouth.
As you may already know, I’m partnering with Safeway this year. I’m joining for a Northern California blogger tour aimed at inspiring me to create recipes that feature some of their specialty products or initiatives that you might not already know about. You can find all the recipes inspired by these tours here.
This month we toured Alvarado Street Bakery and Lagunitas, complete with an ice cream cart and sundae bar co-hosted by Tillamook. There was admittedly a lot of gluten I couldn’t taste on the tour, but I was surprised to learn that Lagunitas actually had an option for me! They’ve released a hoppy refresher, which is an IPA-inspired hoppy sparkling water. It’s gluten-free, alcohol-free, calorie-free and super satisfying!
We’d seen the hoppy refresher in an ice chest at a BBQ before but were too skeptical to try it. Now that I’ve tried it, I’m sold. It’s the perfect drink for those who can’t drink beer, with a light hoppy beer scent and flavor profile.
Using Tillamook’s vanilla bean ice cream for the filling, I sprinkled salty peanut and crushed pretzel as decoration to pair with beer or, in this case, hoppy sparkling water.
I pulled salty peanut-pretzel flavor combination from Yossy Arefi’s Salty Peanut Pretzel Ice Cream Cake that Alanna and I made and styled for The New York Times last year. That ice cream cake has a pretzel crust underneath (instead of cake) and swirls of peanut butter throughout
Here, I’ve added chocolate cake layers, swirls of salted honey caramel sauce, and left the beer snack toppings as an optional garnish!
Does ice cream cake have cake in it?
Ice cream cake can be made of just ice cream or can include layers of actual cake. For an ice cream only cake, you may add various mix-ins like caramel, peanut butter, or chocolate, or use different flavors of ice cream to create layers.
For an ice cream cake with actual cake layer, you can opt for just one layer of cake topped with a layer of ice cream, or sandwich the ice cream between two layers of cake. I opted for a higher cake ratio here to cut the creamy sweetness a bit.
How to make gluten-free ice cream cake
To make a gluten-free ice cream cake, it’s best to start two days before you want to serve the cake. Ice cream melts pretty quickly, especially if you use a high-cream brand like Tillamook. The good news is, ice cream cake takes very little hands on time, just a little planning in advance!
On the first day, you’ll bake and cool the cake layers and caramel sauce. Once cool, you’ll assemble your cake into layers and pop it in the freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight to firm up.
The next day you’ll frost and decorate the cake. While you decorate the cake, though, the ice cream will start to soften again, so you’ll need to pop it back into the freezer for another 2-4 hours or overnight to firm up before slicing.
On the third day, you slice and eat the cake. If you let it sit at room temperature for 3-5 minutes, it’s just a bit softer and easier to slice, while still firm enough to hold its shape!
How do you soften ice cream for a cake?
To spread the ice cream layer of an ice cream cake, you need the ice cream to be soft to create a smooth layer that will “stick” to the cake. Scoop the ice cream into a large bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula, pressing it against the sides until it’s smooth, but still very thick, almost like mashed potatoes. Now the ice cream is ready to spread into an even layer!
How do you store ice cream cake?
Make sure you store your ice cream cake well to avoid freezer-burn. There’s nothing worse than a cake that tastes like freezer!
When freezing the assembled pre-frosted cake, cover it in plastic wrap or foil. If you’re making the cake far in advance, make sure to create an air-tight seal of plastic wrap then a layer of foil.
After you’ve frosted the cake, let it freeze uncovered for 30 minutes to firm up then carefully cover the cake in plastic or foil to keep it from getting freezer burn. Don’t frost your cake more than 3-5 days in advance because the longer it sits in your freezer without an airtight seal, the more likely it will taste like your freezer when you go to serve it. Instead, if you need to make the cake further in advance, seal and wrap up the cake right after you’ve frozen the layers overnight, but before you frost it!
Finally, slice and freeze any leftovers in an airtight container (as if there will be leftovers…).
More Ice Cream Desserts
- Lavender Earl Grey Blackberry Ice Cream Floats
- Hibiscus Ginger Ice Cream Float
- Double Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches
- Fruit Basket Ice Cream Cake from The Pig & Quill
- Brown Butter Churro Ice Cream Sundaes from Heartbeet Kitchen
- Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae Pie from Hummingbird High
- Chocolate Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches from Dessert for Two
Gluten-Free Ice Cream Cake
- 2 8-inch gluten-free chocolate cake layers, baked and cooled
- 1.75 quarts vanilla bean ice cream (I used Tillamook vanilla bean ice cream)
- 1/2 cup salted honey caramel sauce, recipe below (or use store-bought caramel sauce)
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- Optional, for serving: 1/4 cup each unsalted dry roasted peanuts and chopped gluten-free pretzels, 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt
Salted Honey Caramel Sauce
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Prepare the gluten-free chocolate cakes. Use this recipe to bake two 8-inch gluten-free chocolate cakes. Remove the cake from the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, make salted honey caramel sauce while the cakes bake. Combine the sugar and honey is a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring just until the sugar is evenly moistened. Stop stirring and cook until the sugar caramelizes - it will be a deep amber color and smell nutty. Immediately pour in the cream, butter, salt, and vanilla. Be careful as it will bubble rapidly from the cold cream. Stir with a whisk until smooth and cook for 1 minute. Transfer caramel to a bowl and chill while the cakes bake and cool, stirring occasionally.
- Once the cakes and caramel are cool, pull the ice cream out of the freezer and scoop it into a large bowl to soften. After it sits for 5 minutes, stir the softened ice cream to make it smooth and spreadable.
- Prepare the pan for the ice cream cake. Use either an 8-inch springform pan or the same 8-inch pan you used to bake the chocolate cakes. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Line the sides of the pan with a 4-inch high ring of parchment paper, wax paper, or an acetate strip.
- Place one chocolate cake at the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread half of the ice cream onto the cake. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of caramel sauce over the top and use a chopstick or the back of a utensil to swirl the caramel into the ice cream. Spread with remaining ice cream into a smooth layer, stopping 1/4-inch below the top rim of the baking pan so there's room to stack the second cake on top. Place the second cake on top and gently press it to seal the cake and ice cream together. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and freeze overnight or for at least 5 hours. If making the cake in advance, wrap up the entire cake airtight with plastic wrap and then again with foil.
- Remove the cake from the pan. If you did not use a springform pan, you may need to run a knife around the outside to help loosen it from the pan. The cake should be frozen enough that you can turn it upside down to help remove it. Place the cake on a cake plate and freeze while you prepare the whipped cream frosting.
- Whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium bowl with an hand mixer just until firm peaks form, being careful not to over-whisk.
- Remove the cake from the freezer and use the heavy cream to spread a thin crumb coat on top with an offset spatula. Return the cake to the freezer for another 5 minutes to help the whipped cream set. Repeat two more times until the cake is evenly frosted and smooth.
- To decorate, drizzle remaining caramel around the top edge as pictured about. Pipe flower decorations around the top edge of the cake with a large closed star tip. If desired, sprinkle with chopped dry roasted peanuts, crushed gluten-free pretzels, and a pinch of flaky salt.
- Chill for up to another 2 hours before serving to set the ice cream again before slicing. If decorating more than a day in advance, let it chill for 2 hours then wrap it up carefully with plastic wrap then a layer of foil, trying to avoid bumping your decor.