In retrospect, rolling in from a weekend away straight to Ben's birthday might not have been our best idea. We had planned on doing a small party over the following weekend, but we quickly realized while we were traveling that Ben was having a rough time with the trip. Sometimes we forget just how much our little guy has gone through in his first few years of life and for whatever reason the trip set off a lot of anxiety. I'm not sure if it was the airplane ride, or just the amount of people around, or something else entirely. No matter what, it quickly became clear that by the time we returned home he would be a complete wreck if threw a large birthday party.
Between adoption and the military we are experts at changing things up at the last second. We gave him a family party on his actual birthday instead. No crowds. Just pizza and cake. Heck, I didn't even make the pizza. (It's hard to remember when we are hyper-focused on getting the kids what they need, but Mama needs to take the easy road sometimes too. I might prefer my homemade pizza, but I know the kids are just as happy to have takeout. This is not something I am good at remembering.)
Ben really wanted a Ninjago cake, so since I knew there was no way I could make and decorate in the time I had so I went a different route. What's more refreshing in the summer than ice cream cake? It was fast, easy, and delicious....and I could pop a few Ninja figures on the top and be good to go. Thankfully, it was a hit with kids and grownups alike!
Of course, I couldn't resist fancy-ing it up a bit :) The caramel sauce and homemade whipped cream add a rich touch, and if I had been making this for grownups only I would have made it salted caramel sauce. It would be so easy to change up the flavors of this cake. Cookies and cream ice cream with an oreo crust? Strawberry and vanilla with a chocolate sauce layer instead of the caramel? So many options!
And because I can't resist a cute picture of the birthday boy...here's an action shot!
Ice Cream Pie
For the crust:
12 oz graham crackers (about 21/2 sleeves from a box)
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
For the Filling:
1 pint chocolate ice cream, slightly softened
1/2 caramel sauce
1 pint vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
For the topping:
1 1/2 heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
To make the crust:
Put graham crackers, butter and chocolate chips in a food processor and blitz until they are completely combined. Press into pie plate so that there is an even layer on the bottom and sides. My pie plate is on the small side and I didn't need quite all of mixture, so don't worry if you have extra. Place in the freezer for at least an hour until the crust is solid.
To make the topping:
Meanwhile, using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Take the crust out of the freezer. Scoop chocolate ice cream into crust and smooth into an even layer (about 1-2 inches deep). Pour caramel sauce over chocolate ice cream and even it out as well. Pop in the freezer for a minute or two so it hardens up a little. Scoop the vanilla ice cream and mold into another 2 inch layer. Add the whipped cream to the top and smooth out so that it completely covers the pie. If you want, drizzle some chocolate or caramel sauce over the top of the pie. Freeze for another hour until solid.
I used a warm knife and was able to cut straight from the freezer, but you could also just take it out a few minutes before you plan to serve it.