Guilty pleasures: the things you love but do not like to admit you love, feel too refined to love, feel too informed to love. This is for you… ladies who read People magazine in the check out aisle because “you’re bored,” but may just have picked the longer line on purpose… girls who cook gourmet everything, but may just have a giant container of Kraft faux-parmesan cheese hiding at the back of their fridge because Caesar salad just isn’t the same with the real stuff… devotees who set the PVR to catch every last-minute of Nick and Sharon on YnR for a sister-in-law who’s coming to town, but may just ‘preview’ it before she gets there. These are guilty pleasures: the things we indulge in because they make us smile, but would prefer they stay secret because of what they might say about our nature if we said them out loud.
Here are mine, judge me as you see fit… I religiously watch The Vampire Diaries – Elena is now a vampire, people, I am dying for season 4 to start; I have seen all the Step Up movies – I am perfectly aware that there is no plot, but let’s be honest, I am not watching them for their compelling storylines; I am a sucker for hashbrown casserole – the real kind with frozen faux-potatoes and cream of sodium soup, none of those imposters with real potatoes encased in homemade sauce; I sing along to Justin Bieber’s “Baby” when I am in the car alone – I may seat-dance too; and Dairy Queen ice cream cake – all that creamy cold preserved goodness infused with artificial colors, that is for me.
An ice cream loving friend of mine loves dessert just as dearly as I do, so I love to bust out a heavy-duty dessert for him on his birthday because I know he will really and truly appreciate it. So, this year, I took my inspiration from the DQ cake that I secretly hold above almost all other confections, save perhaps this macaron and the passion fruit tart at Duchess.
If you have ever had a DQ cake, you know that the most important part is the middle layer – the fudge with crunchy chocolate bits. The ice cream is really a venue in which to show case this part. I mean, the ice cream is good, but it isn’t the star of the show.
So, I had to imitate the crunchy bits encased in fudge. And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I had to make sure I mastered this bit. Once I had figured out that part, the rest fell in to place. I needed a cake base (which the masters at DQ do not need with their fancy soft serve machines) but I needed a chocolate-place to build from. Then I needed ice cream, but I wanted something that was sort of a ‘grown-up’ take on the original, so I went for a coffee-cardamom mix which I think is deadly with chocolate. And so the other ice cream was easy, chocolate. I also wanted to make it look pretty but without the traditional piping around the edge that every one picks off and doesn’t eat because it tastes gross. So, I wrapped chocolate around it and covered the top in meringues because Canelle et Vanille did it and everything she does is beautiful.
And so, the cake came to be… and my friend, the dessert lover? He loved it. Yay, mission accomplished.
Here are the layers (top to bottom) and the recipes they are adapted from:
Meringues – Canelle et Vanille – but I piped them into tiny kisses rather than lines
Chocolate Wrap – Miri Leigh – this is the best description of how to do this that I found, and once I did it – I may have done a little victory dance around the kitchen
Chocolate Ice Cream – My Baking Addiction – This recipe used up the egg yolks from the meringues… I did not add the chocolate chunks
Chocolate Crunchy Bits – Canelle et Vanille – this chocolate streusel method is pure genius
Chocolate Fudge – My Father’s Daughter – easy to do and the consistency once frozen is perfect
Coffee Cardamom Ice Cream – Canelle Et Vanille rather than add a vanilla bean, I heated the milk with 5 crushed green cardamom pods and then allowed to steep in the fridge for 3 hours and then added two tsp espresso powder to the milk when heating it up prior to tempering the eggs
Chocolate Buttermilk Cake – Canelle et Vanille
These recipes allowed me to build 1 x 8″ cake and 3 x 3″ cakes in their respective rings so I had enough for the birthday man and for my dad… who, when I told about the cake, candidly demanded he be included in the tasting process.
When assembling the cake, make sure to freeze for at least 20 minutes after adding each layer. When you add the streusel, press it lightly into the fudge layer. Before serving, place in the fridge for about 10 minutes to soften slightly.