The Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake Disaster

My son turned two last Saturday. Because we had a heat wave that week, there was no way I was turning on the oven to make him a cake.

I felt inspired by Aran’s post about the ice cream cakes she made recently for a birthday. Um, yeah. My cake had nothin’ on hers. (Seriously–go over and see them. She is so amazing!)

This is what I ended up with:

Oh, yeah, it sort of looks okay, right? From that angle. You can’t see the back though. And you can’t see the inside. I did love how the white chocolate #2’s turned out. They were a hit with my kids.

Let us move on to the inside. Doesn’t look too bad…but you have to hear the story.


I made an Oreo crust–Dorie’s recipe from the Peanut Butter Torte. And I made my recipe for Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. And I came up with a recipe for Peanut Butter Swirl. (See this post for more info on that…) I chopped a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for a yummy middle layer.

Everything was ready to go. The freezer had been cleared out. The crust had been prepared (I didn’t even want to bake that.) The ice cream was almost done churning. Perfect.


Then the power went off. For over an hour. That hour destroyed my cake! The ice cream lost all of its accumulated air from churning and melted. (It turned out icy.) The peanut butter cups and swirl sank to the bottom. The Oreo crust absorbed some of the ice cream soup and became too hard to cut.


And I share it with you because more often than not, I have these kinds of disasters. Just trying to keep it real. (Stay tuned for some awesome pictures of my kitchen. I decided to be brave and share.)

So, what did I decide to do? Top if off with bittersweet chocolate ganache.

The ganache stayed on the top just fine, but started slipping off into a puddle around the sides. That first picture above shows the front of the cake before all the ganache slipped off–the back looked like the picture below. Next time–and oh, there will be a next time–the ganache is only going on the top. Did I mention that this cake is RICH. Yet, notice how much of it was eaten over the course of a few days….the rest is still in the freezer for a rainy day.

See? Total disaster. But, a very yummy disaster. Of course my kids were happy to grab a spoon and dig in. They didn’t know that those hours of planning and assembling were not up to snuff.

Which reminds me of all the other birthday cakes I’ve made that haven’t worked–all for my kids’ birthdays. My daughter’s 1st birthday cake was so rubbery she wouldn’t even eat it. Then there was her 2nd birthday cake–white with raspberry filling and cream cheese icing. It was so bad even I wouldn’t eat it. (It’s one of my favorites!) And now this. Sniff, sniff.

Like I said, there will be a next time. And in any case, the components were all good. I blame the power outage. Yes. That was it.

Cake Components:

*1 1/2 quarts high quality store bought or Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (prepared as directed through the churning stage)–you can also use chocolate

*Oreo crust in a springform pan with removable bottom

*1 bag Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (the mini ones), chopped

*Half recipe for Peanut Butter Swirl (recipe below)

*Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)

*White Chocolate Decoration (recipe below)


Pour half of the vanilla ice cream over the prepared Oreo crust. Dollop half of the peanut butter swirl mixture on top. Drag a knife through the top to swirl the PB through. Top with the chopped PB cups. Pour remaining vanilla ice cream on top of that. Add the remaining PB swirl. Drag the knife tip through the top again to swirl the PB throughout.

Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the cake and place in the freezer to harden for at least three or four hours.

To serve:

If desired, spread ganache on top of the frozen cake and let harden for a few minutes in the freezer. Before releasing the sides of the pan, carefully go around the inside of the pan with a thin spatula or knife.

Let the cake sit for a few minutes at room temperature before slicing. (A chef’s knife works very well.)

Peanut Butter Swirl

1 cup natural peanut butter
1, 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2-4 tbsp. milk (for thinning)

Stir the peanut butter and condensed milk together, adding a little milk to thin it out. It should be the consistency similar to thick caramel sauce.

You will only need half of this recipe for a 1 1/2 quart ice cream recipe. Use the whole recipe for 1/2 gallon recipes.

To swirl into ice cream:

Freeze your ice cream of choice in an ice cream maker. Place 1/3 of the frozen ice cream in a freezer-proof container. Dollop spoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture evenly over the surface of the ice cream. Top with more ice cream, more spoonfuls of peanut butter, the remaining ice cream and the remaining peanut butter mixture. Use a thin knife or wooden skewer to swirl the peanut butter throughout the ice cream. (You may want to place the container in the freezer until it starts to set up a bit before swirling the peanut butter. You don’t want it to sink to the bottom.)

Let harden in the freezer before serving.

Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream until very hot, pour over chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes. Whisk well. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.

You can whip it a bit to make it thicker, but be careful not to overdo it or the ganache will be too thick to spread.

Use as needed.

White Chocolate Decoration

4 oz. good quality white chocolate (made with real cocoa butter, not the vanilla flavored kind)
1 tsp. unflavored vegetable shortening or unsalted butter

Chop the chocolate. Place in a small bowl. Add the shortening. Microwave on 50 % power at 20-30 second intervals until most of the chocolate has melted. Watch it–it may only take 30 seconds to melt. Whisk to remove any lumps.

Transfer the melted chocolate to a piping bag. Use as needed.

Note: I like to print a template off of my computer and place a piece of wax paper over the top. I pipe the decoration onto the wax paper, place it in the fridge to chill and use it as I need to.

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  1. thank you for taking one for the team and figuring out the pb swirl. I will love you till the day I die…

    Also, I made the sickest yellow butter cake for my birthday two weeks ago. It was absolutely repulsive. It tasted like rubber. At least yours tastes good and has cute 2s on it!

  2. It still looks good, but I hate when my food doesn’t work out. I think my self-esteem is too closely related with my cooking.

  3. oh no! no power for an hour! i feel your pain… but let me just say that despite the incident, the cake looks great to me and the flavor perfect for a birthday cake. And thank you for your kind words!

  4. Keepin’ it real! Oh no with the power! It still all ended up looking pretty darn good to me though, but I know how frustrating something like this can be. You’re a trooper!

  5. Darn power outage! The cake still looks good to me. My 2 boys both have August birthdays, so I’m thinking an ice cream cake is the way to go. Baking when it’s 105 degrees just doesn’t fly.

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