Have your cake...and save it too

There is no food quite so iconically attached to American birthdays as cake and ice cream. Ice cream socials rarely have cake, and weddings sure don't have ice cream very often, so this pair is surely most often a birthday tradition. But as much as we all like this duo, it can get old. And when you make a whole cake, there are always leftovers. Leftovers you don't know what to do with and leftovers that are often not eaten. But I have a delicious and incredibly easy solution for those problems that will actually have you wanting to have extra cake on your hands.

Mix them! Well yes, like Coldstone, but I had the idea back in Jan 2004 when I made this for Julia's birthday, so I like to at least differentiate the two if not take full-on credit. (Ref: Ann Arbor's Coldstone opened in mid-2005.) It's so easy and so good, and people will love you so much for it, they won't just want it for "leftovers," they'll want it the first time too. Ice cream birthday cake is as old as sliced bread, but birthday cake ice cream is new and better.

All you need is a frosted cake. Like I said, it can be leftover anything, but if you're making this special, you can even get away with a boxed cake mix and store-bought frosting (find the kinds with no weird trans fats, shortening or partially hydrogenated oils). You need about a pint of ice cream per quarter sheet pan for a very chunky ice cream, and about a quart per half sheet pan for a little more traditional ice cream texture. Get a relatively soft kind of plain ice cream. I recommend a chocolate vanilla swirl for anything reminiscent of chocolate cake with vanilla frosting or vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, but you can pick what sounds best to you. I also like to put sprinkles on the cake to add a little crunch to the ice cream later, but again, that is a personal preference.

When your cake is ready and you've softened your ice cream for at least 30 minutes, you're ready for action. In a large bowl scoop about a third of the ice cream. Add half of the cake, broken into manageably sized pieces. Then add another third of ice cream, the other half of the cake and top it with the last third of ice cream. And now, with a flat, plastic spoon, start gently mixing the ice cream through the cake, breaking up pieces as you go. This will take a few minutes since you'll have to go slowly at first, but be patient and keep going until you have a homogenous mixture. Now, with a larger spoon, scoop the ice cream into the ice cream container and maybe one other large freezer-safe, sealable container. Let it come together in the freezer for at least 30 minutes but up to overnight before serving.

You can bring this as a dessert dish for a party, serve it to kids at a birthday party, or sock some away in your own freezer for those special indulgent moments. The taste is new and memorable, and it adds just a little fun to an old favorite. If my skinny teenage girlfriend loved it and wanted lots more back in 2004, then I am sure it will be a hit for all ages. At least you won't have that old leftover cake sitting there that no one wants to touch anymore -- you'll have a fun dessert that people keep sneaking back to for more.

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