This ice cream cake takes the cake of all ice cream cakes (get it?). With three layers of thick fudge, chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cup ice cream, and a crunchy pretzel crust, this sweet-salty combination is incredibly indulgent.
Stop EVERYTHING right now and get ready to dive into the most indulgent, delicious, incredible, rich, salty-sweet, fudgy ice cream cake of your life.
I can’t believe I made this recipe back in June (!!!) for my brother’s birthday and am just posting it. Blogger fail, huh? Big time because it’s incredible and deserved to be shared with you RIGHT then and there.
But it’s here now so we’re moving forward and focusing on the positives.
First being, the way the salty-sweet combo comes together. Second being the epic level of fudginess in this cake. THREE layers. Third being, the textures: crunchy pretzel crust, thick, smooth fudge, and creamy ice cream.
This peanut butter cup ice cream cake is really the genius creation of my brother (the then birthday boy, remember). His request: an ice cream cake that’s sweet and salty, with peanut butter cups.
The result: this.
You see, we used to do DQ ice cream cakes for our birthdays for a long time. But now, now we’ve gone homemade and much, much, much more epic.
Let’s dive into the layers, because the layers are what make this cake indulgently delicious. They each deserve the spotlight.
1. Pretzel Crust
We’ve all had an ice cream cake with Oreo crust. It’s great. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good ol’ ice cream crust.
But this pretzel crust?
It makes this ice cream cake.
It adds crunch, texture, and the salt balances out all the rich sweetness so perfectly. Even better? It’s…you guessed it… it’s easy to make!
Use a food processor to blend up the pretzels into a small crumb. There will definitely be non-crumb sized pieces, which is fine.
Mix together with melted butter and press in the pan. Voila! Go ahead and stick this in the freezer for a few minutes, so it firms up and is ready for…
Did I mention that this cake is fudge-tastic? That was an absolute requirement.
FUDGE FUDGE FUDGE.
And it’s oh, oh, oh so good.
I don’t know what it is about hot fudge and ice cream together, but the combination of thick, chocolatey fudge and cold, creamy ice cream is one of the best out there.
So there’s a layer of fudge at the base of the cake, right on top of the crust. Naturally, we need to get it in at every layer, so we do. It’s going to go after each layer of ice cream – which means it’s also on top.
The Chocolate Ice Cream
Why not add more chocolate to this fudge ice cream cake? Go big or go home.
I recommend using high quality ice cream to keep it top notch. It’s creamy, chocolatey, deliciousness. Simple as that.
Oh, then go ahead and put that other layer of fudge on before the…
Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
GAH, have more beautiful words ever been read?
The beauty of mixing up your own peanut butter cup ice cream for this cake is that you get to make it as peanut-butter-cuppy as you want. YES YES YES. Dreams do come true.
I use about 12 peanut butter cups, which yes, might seem like a lot, but my friends, this is an ice cream cake and we are NOT cutting corners.
Chop ’em up, mix ’em in the vanilla ice cream, and spread ’em around.
Oh, then put a layer of fudge on top (after the final freeze) because OBVIOUSLY we’re adding more fudge. You have been paying attention, haven’t you?
Now, you can top the cake however your heart – er, stomach – desires. I like to add some chopped peanut butter cups and pretzels, to keep the sweet-and-salty theme going.
If you’re feeling extra indulgent, add some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups whole. Regular size, or mini (they’re so cute!).
And if you’re really really really feeling indulgent, drizzle on some sea salt caramel.
Yes, we did this on the bro’s birthday. Yes, it was incredible and amazing.
I did leave it off of the recipe, and photos, but do not let that stop you. I am in full support of drizzling/pouring/spooning on all the sea salt caramel.
BECAUSE THE SALTY SWEET COMBO REALLY IS A TASTE-BUDS DREAM COME TRUE.
Ok, enough shouting. Let’s discuss some tips and then get to “baking”.
Tips for Making Ice Cream Cake
Since this ‘cake’ is literally just all ice cream, and no ‘cake’, it’s important to have your freezer ready.
A cold freezer with space for your springform pan is essential.
You’ll freeze each layer of the cake in between additions. Doing this makes it easier to spread it each, and ensures less melting.
Using a springform pan makes serving the cake a breeze and I hiiiighly recommend using one (plus, you can make cheesecake in it, so it’s a win win pan to have). Pop off the outside and either remove the cake from the bottom, or be a rebel like I can be and gently cut it on the pan.
You can see the layers beautifully then, and it removes the stress of getting each piece out of a pan.
Soften the ice cream a little before spreading. I recommend taking the ice cream out of the freezer for about 10 minutes before adding it to the cake.
The slightly softened ice cream will spread easier, resulting in a more uniform layer and saving you some muscle work. It also helps when you mix the peanut butter cups and vanilla ice cream.
Add the final layer of fudge before serving. I’ve found that letting the cake completely freeze through (for several hours or overnight) solidifies the cake and then allows the top layer to go on without slipping all over.
You can then freeze the fudge for another 30 minutes or go ahead and serve. Of course, after you’ve added your toppings.
Remove the ice cream cake from the springform pan , cut it up, and dig in! Your friends and family are going to fall in love with this indulgent, fudgy, creamy ice cream cake instantly – and so will you (you may not even want to share…and that is a-ok!).
Need more ice cream desserts?
- Chocolate Crunch Ice Cream Pie
- Mini Ice Cream Cake with Banana Creme Anglaise
- Brookie Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches
Triple Fudge Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cake with Pretzels
- 4 1/2 cups pretzels
- 10 TBSP unsalted butter melted
- 3 cups hot fudge topping divided (room temperature or chilled in the fridge)
- 3 cups chocolate ice cream
- 3 cups vanilla ice cream
- 12-14 peanut butter cups chopped
- In a food processor, blend the pretzels until a small pebble size crumb forms. Pulse in the melted butter until combined. Press the pretzel crumbs into the bottom of a springform pan, pressing slightly up the sides. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to set up.
- Spread 1 cup of fudge on top of the pretzel crust. Freeze for an additional 15 minutes (this freezing helps the ice cream spread easier).
- Remove chocolate ice cream from the freezer about 10 minutes before adding it to the cake. Spread the chocolate ice cream on top of the first fudge layer. Freeze for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Spread 1 cup of fudge on top of the chocolate ice cream. If the ice cream didn't freeze through enough, it may start melting as you add the fudge and come through during the spreading. That's ok, just work around it or continue spreading (but this is why the additional freeze is recommended after each layer). Place in the freezer for 15 minutes while preparing the next layer.
- Remove the vanilla ice cream from the freezer for 10 minutes to soften slightly. Stir in the chopped peanut butter cups until thoroughly combined. Spread on top of the fudge layer and return to the freezer for "the big freeze". Freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight (preferred).
- Before serving, spread the final 1 cup of fudge on top of the cake. Top with additional peanut butter cups and/or pretzels as desired. Freeze again for 30 minutes if you want the fudge to be more firm, or serve immediately. Drizzle with salted caramel if desired.