Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Cake

Whenever I’m planning summer parties, this impressive beauty always comes to mind.  I believe I have made it at least one time every summer for the past 10 years!  And every time it is served, the compliments flow like crazy!  And crazy it is, as we are basically talking about a layered ice cream dessert!  As simple as that sounds, it’s the layering of flavors that makes it so unique.  Rich and creamy dulce de leche ice cream, tangy strawberry sorbet, a toasted hazelnut graham cracker crust and a drizzle of caramel.  

It’s truly perfect for the summer, a refreshing dessert that can be made in advance.  It’s really versatile also as I have changed the recipe many times; mango sorbet instead of strawberry, coconut ice cream instead of dule de leche, macadamia nuts instead of hazelnuts, raspberry sauce instead of caramel.  And, someday when I finally open up my brand new, never used ice cream maker, I will really make this dessert totally from scratch!

The ingredients can be pricey and it does take some time to devote to the softening, layering and freezing of each layer.   But my efforts are always rewarded by the smiles I see on my guests’ faces!   I decided for this cake to make chocolate covered strawberries to top the cake instead of serving the cake with sliced fresh strawberries as in the recipe below.   I placed the chocolate covered strawberries on top just prior to presenting and serving as they should not be frozen. 

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Cake

Adapted from Bon Appetite, April 2001

5 whole graham crackers, broken up

1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts

1 tablespoon sugar for the crust plus 1/3 cup sugar for marinating the strawberries 

1/8 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 pints dulce de leche ice cream

2 pints strawberry sorbet

2 1/2 pounds strawberries, sliced

1 tablespoonChambord liquor

Purchased caramel sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine crackers, nuts, 1 tablespoon sugar, and salt in processor. Blend until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter; blend until mixture is evenly moist. Press mixture over bottom (not sides) of 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Bake crust until golden, about 8 minutes. Cool completely and place in freezer.  Begin to slightly soften both the ice cream and sorbet by placing in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes.  Stir the soften ice cream well to avoid lumps that will cause the layers to be wavy when spread. 

Carefully spread 1 1/4 pints ice cream spread over crust. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Spread 1 pint of slightly softened sorbet over the ice cream. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Spread 1 1/4 pints slightly softened ice cream over sorbet. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Spread 1 pint slightly softened sorbet over ice cream. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Spread 1 1/2 pints slightly softened ice cream over sorbet for top layer. Cover; freeze until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 1 week.

Stir berries,Chambordand 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl. Let stand until berries release their juices, about 30 minutes. Cut around cake to loosen. Release pan sides. Cut cake into wedges; arrange on plates. Spoon berries atop wedges; drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired.

I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


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