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Kids in the Kitchen

No-Bake Ice-Cream Cake

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Let the kids whip up dessert—without heating up the oven. Try this mistake-proof idea!

No-Bake Ice-Cream Cake

Prep time: 15 minutes

Chilling time: 4 hours

Total time: 4 hours and 15 minutes

Serves: 8

No-Bake Ice-Cream Cake

No-Bake Ice-Cream Cake

Prep time: 15 minutes

Chilling time: 4 hours

Total time: 4 hours and 15 minutes

Serves: 8

The first time my sister and I made a cake together, I was 12 and she was 10. My mother, busy running a household that included 11 of us children, had entrusted us to make a younger sibling’s birthday cake, and had even bought a cake mix for us to prepare. We followed the instructions carefully, beating together the vegetable oil, water, and eggs with the electric mixer and greasing two layer pans with butter. But no matter how long we beat these ingredients, we failed to produce a batter. Finally, we showed the contents of the bowl to our mother, who of course diagnosed the problem immediately. We’d ignored the initial step in the directions, which read: put the cake mix into the mixing bowl! Problem solved, we proceeded, and our cake turned out just perfectly. We added lots of frosting and sprinkles!

Many years and many cakes later, I still love keeping baking projects super simple. So, if you want to make a fancy, showy dessert with little effort, this cake is perfect. It’s a tall, festive affair that layers two kinds of ice cream and two kinds of cookies with a ready-made pound cake. The topping is delicious, store-bought chocolate sauce that hardens into a shell. You can make this cake a few days ahead of time, freeze, and serve for a special occasion or no occasion at all—just when you’re looking for a dessert to make with your kids that the whole family will love.

What Kids Learn
  • The best and coldest spot to store ice cream in the freezer
  • How long frozen food lasts when the power goes out
  • The time it takes to thaw frozen cake in a microwave oven
  • Why recipes should be followed exactly as written
What You’ll Need
  • 5 medium-sized chocolate-chip cookies
  • 5 chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 1 (16-ounce) frozen pound cake
  • 2 cups softened vanilla ice cream, divided
  • 1 cup softened chocolate ice cream
  • 1 (7.25-ounce) bottle chocolate shell ice-cream sauce
  • Multicolor sprinkles for the topping
What to Do
  1. Have your junior chef place the chocolate-chip cookies and the chocolate sandwich cookies into separate re-sealable sandwich bags. Let her use the palms of her hands, or her fists, to smash the cookies into crumbs. (Set the bags aside.)
  2. Thaw the cake in the microwave for about one minute.  (It should be soft enough to slice, but not so soft that it will break apart.)
  3. Slice the cake into thirds, horizontally. (The easiest way to do this is to stand the cake up on its long side and slice down with a sharp serrated knife so the slices will be more even.)
  4. Line a large platter with plastic wrap. Help your child carefully place 1 layer of cake onto the platter.
  5. Supervise as your baker-in-training spreads 1 cup of the vanilla ice cream evenly over the pound cake. Let her evenly sprinkle the ice cream with the crushed chocolate-chip cookies.
    Teachable Moment: 3 Ice Cream Texture-and-Flavor Savers
    • Keep an open box of baking soda in the freezer to absorb odors from other foods and keep your ice cream from picking up any scent from last night’s dinner.
    • Place ice cream as far back in the freezer as possible, where the temperature is coldest. Never store ice cream in the freezer door—and don’t leave ice cream at room temperature any longer than you absolutely have to.
    • Make sure your storage container is closed properly. Store homemade ice cream in an air-tight, freezer-proof plastic container.
  6. Help your pint-size baker place the second slice of pound cake on top of the first. Have her spread the chocolate ice cream on top of that, and sprinkle this layer with the crushed chocolate sandwich cookies.
  7. Arrange the third and final layer of cake over the crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. Press down gently. Let your little chef spread the remaining 1 cup of vanilla ice cream over the top, squeeze the chocolate ice-cream sauce on top of that, and then add the multicolored sprinkles.
    4 Freezing and Storage Rules Every Pint-Size Cook Should Know
    • Let food cool before putting it in the freezer. Hot food causes the internal temperature of the freezer to rise—and the food inside to start defrosting.
    • In a power outage, do not open the freezer. If a freezer door is closed, food inside should remain frozen for about 24 hours.
    • When in doubt, throw it out. That’s the rule when you can’t recall how long ago you froze an item or don’t know if it’s still edible.
    • Or avoid that problem completely. Carefully wrap, label, and date all food before freezing. And here’s a useful tip: label pre-cooked food with, say, a black marker, and uncooked food with a different color marker to make identification easier.
  8. Wrap the cake in a double layer of plastic wrap. Freeze for 3 to 4 hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer about 20 minutes before serving.  Slice with a serrated knife.

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